Gotta love a little Friday night college football season kickoff!
If you follow me on Twitter, then you already know I had a lot of problems with how the Huskies looked yesterday. I thought our offensive line got their asses WHUPPED, I thought Jake Browning – while brilliant at times – looked a little off, I thought the defense looked just sort of okay in the first half, and I thought no one outside of Dante Pettis, Myles Gaskin, and Drew Sample really stepped up and asserted themselves on offense.
The Huskies, more than anything, looked rusty and unprepared! In the end, the 30-14 outcome might be the best thing to happen to them this season, as I definitely got the vibe that the Dawgs were maybe drinking a little too much of their own Kool Aid. Like they could just show up and blow out Rutgers by 50 points or something. Not so fast.
I thought Rutgers had a good offensive gameplan early. Pound the ball and follow that up with quick, short passes. Don’t hold the ball too long to let UW’s D-Line get home, and don’t throw the ball too deep to let UW’s athletic secondary make plays. The problem for the Scarlet Knights was that while the Huskies made adjustments (and started to tackle better, though our tackling throughout the night was hit-or-miss … literally), they never changed their gameplan, when it was painfully obvious the Huskies were never too concerned about Rutgers stretching the field. By that point, in the second half, it was a game of attrition and running out the clock.
Not for nothing, but as a huge underdog, Rutgers probably could’ve been a little more aggressive on 4th & short. But, given the spread was somewhere around 27.5 in favor of Washington, losing by only 16 points was probably a victory for a good chunk of people (gamblers) in the world.
Pettis hauled in 3 passes for 85 yards, and tacked on a punt return for TD late in the first half to give the Huskies their first lead. Without a second wide-out to take away some of the pressure, it might be tough sledding this season for Pettis, so I REALLY hope someone starts to step up soon.
Drew Sample had 3 catches for 63 yards, as he occasionally found himself wide open with lots of green in front of him. I thought he looked too quickly to go out of bounds on his first reception, so it was nice to see him barrel through some people later in the game.
Myles Gaskin was the star of the show, though. He caught 5 balls for 79 yards and a TD, making some brilliant diving/over-the-shoulder catches all over the field, really having the look of a true wide receiver. He would also rush for 59 yards on only 7 carries (mostly in the second half, when we finally got some running lanes going). If Gaskin can truly be this type of duel threat player for the Huskies, he’s going to REALLY help out this offense (and REALLY make himself a lot of money in the NFL as a LeVeon Bell-type player).
On defense, the Huskies could only muster the 1 sack (at the end of the game), because Rutgers was so focused on getting the ball out quickly. That did translate into 2 interceptions for Byron Murphy, redshirt Freshman. I thought our entire secondary showed up well in this one. Taylor Rapp was all over the place, cleaning up the front seven’s missed tackles. That Rutgers TD in the 4th quarter was almost another INT, our guy (don’t remember his name off-hand) just mis-timed his jump, but he had perfect position to make the play.
What’s most important about UW’s defensive play last night was, after a first, disasterous TD drive for Rutgers in the first quarter, they put the clamps down and nearly shut them out the rest of the way. That’s the UW football I came here to see!
I guess, for my part, I’ll say that it was probably unreasonable to expect the Huskies to fly all the way across the country and put a pounding on a team that would surely look vastly different than they did last year in Husky Stadium. Lots of transfer students, new coaching staff, new scheme. Plus, being at home always helps. I don’t know if Rutgers will be a bowl team like the dopey color guy was talking about, but I do agree that they look a lot better than they did last year. I think they’ll have more than 2 wins, but I think they’ll fall just short of the necessary 6 wins.
That having been said, I’m going to be rooting like crazy for Rutgers the rest of the way. If there’s one thing this Husky schedule needs, it’s a quality non-conference victory. So, if we can squeeze Rutgers into the Baha Men “Who Let The Dogs Out” Bowl come December, I’ll be one happy Dawg fan.
Next Saturday, we get Montana at home. Let’s do to them what I wanted to do to Rutgers.