The Huskies Took Down Kent State In A Refreshing Change Of Pace (From All The Losing, To Teams Both Good & Bad)

When I set my schedule of things to write about over the next couple weeks, I didn’t plan on saying anything about the first Husky football game of the season, for a few reasons. For starters, I have a lot of other things I want to write about this week, as the baseball season remains exciting and the NFL and Fantasy Football seasons get underway. Also, I was out of state and didn’t expect I’d have a chance to watch any of the Husky game. As it turns out, rather than being on the Pac-12 Network as I anticipated, it was on Fox Sports, and I was in a hotel lobby that happened to have that channel available.

But, really, it seemed like a no-win proposition. Either the Huskies lose – and kick off yet another season by fucking up against a lower-tier foe – or they win, but whatever, because that’s what was supposed to happen. I went into that game kind of expecting to be annoyed. Indeed, when I saw the line (Huskies by 22 or 23 points, with an over/under of 60 for the game), and I fully expected both unders to hit.

The taste in my mouth from last season was all-encompassing. Ultimately, my thought process was: what if it wasn’t the coaching staff? What if the players themselves just aren’t up to snuff? What if the O-Line is disappointing again? What if the quarterback play is going to forever be sub-par? What if the receivers stink and we can’t get any sort of running game going? What if the defense is trash and takes a huge step back?

I was ready for all of that. So, I was really fucking excited to see us get off to such a hot start. We took a 21-7 lead after one quarter, and continued to build upon it the rest of the way, en route to a 45-20 victory (yes, we covered, and yes, so did the over).

Look, I know it’s the Kent State Hot Golden Flashes, and that’s an outcome we’re supposed to expect. But, again, after last year, it’s just nice and refreshing to see a fucking competent offense for once. I was pulled between the TV and a game of Mahjong I was playing with my girlfriend and friends, but every time I looked over, the Huskies were doing something great. Hitting passes on time and down field, busting wide-open holes for the running backs, going for it on 4th down and succeeding. Scoring touchdowns instead of field goals! With a quarterback who knows what the fuck he’s doing, who also wasn’t under constant duress! What a fucking breath of fresh air!

I had my doubts about Michael Penix Jr., but he was clearly the way to go, at least in this first game. I know Dylan Morris had a tough go of it with an inept offensive coaching staff, but his decision-making was erratic at best and confounding at worst. Penix, on the other hand, was decisive and accurate and dynamic. 26/39 for 345 yards, 4 TDs, and most importantly, 0 INTs. He also ran for 27 yards; it would appear he can do it all. Again, the level of opposition and all that, but we saw Morris against the same type of teams doing much worse.

I honestly don’t know what to make of the running game. I didn’t feel like they got off to that great of a start, but I also think this was a statement game, where the team wanted to assert its new passing attack and let everyone know things are going to be different (for the better). It was nice to see the receivers you’d expect to be at the top of the stat sheet doing their things. I love our tight ends and all that, but it was getting to be God damned ridiculous that they were the only weapons in our passing game the last few years. We need receivers to be receivers, not just effective blockers on the outside.

I also don’t know a whole lot about the defense. I think Kent State brings a high-powered offensive attack with quick throws, so sacks were obviously at a premium. The secondary is largely new, and had some growing pains in this one, but acquitted themselves well in the end. It’s not going to be a perfect unit overnight. But, this was a great first game to build off of.

We were perfect on field goals, and didn’t punt often, so that’s nice. But, the coverage units were probably our biggest weakness. Gotta clean that up before we get to the meaty part of our schedule.

Overall, I’m happy. Great first game. Let’s see how we do these next couple weeks before trying to assess what the non-conference results mean for the Pac-12 games.

The Mariners Were On Fire While I Was On Vacation

You hate to max out your vacation time before Labor Day, but I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of my trips this year. The past 10 days or so were no exception, and I can see that the Mariners felt the same way, as they wrapped up a 6-game undefeated road trip while I was out of town.

Apparently, we have the Cleveland Guardians’ number. When I left, we were hosting them for four games, taking three. There was a 3-1 victory where Marco Gonzales got back on the horse and all the scoring was completed in the first inning for both teams. We followed that up with a 3-2 nailbiter in 11 innings. We had our only loss to the Guardians after that, with an uncharacteristic blown outing by Andres Munoz. Still, it was a narrow 4-3 affair. But, we came right back to take the series, winning a 4-0 shutout thanks to Robbie Ray’s 7 innings of dealing.

That set us on the road for the Tigers and Guardians again. We had no trouble destroying the Tigers: 9-3, 5-3, 7-0. We got to take a load off of Kirby’s arm in the first game (giving Flexen the 4-inning save). The Return Of Abraham Toro came with a 2-run homer in the later innings to give us the lead for good in the second game. And Logan Gilbert took advantage of a lot of runs early to throw 6 relatively easy shutout innings before giving way and saving his pitch count. Great job, everyone!

Even more impressive was the 3-game sweep of the Guardians on the road, especially when you factor in how – on Sunday’s getaway game – it took over 8 hours for the game to complete thanks to huge rain delays. We beat ’em 6-1 in the opener, on the back of another strong outing by Castillo. We shut them out again 4-0 in the next Robbie Ray start on Saturday. And we finished them off in that aforementioned rain game, where Kirby was limited to 3 innings before the 4 and a half hour delay. Even though technically the bullpen gave up our 3-1 lead late, it was awesome work by those guys to keep us in it and take on the burden of the day. It gave us enough time to rally in the 11th inning, with a Crawford RBI single and a Raleigh 2-run homer. Flexen got his second save of the week, as the last pitcher available.

At the moment – with yesterday’s defeat to the White Sox, thanks to what I’m sure was a miserable late return home Sunday night/Monday morning – we’re still in a virtual tie with the Rays for the top Wild Card spot. They are, of course, charging the slumping Yankees for the division title, so things could look a lot different by month’s end. Nevertheless, even with our hot run lately, we’re still 11 games behind the Astros for the A.L. West. So, don’t even think about that.

The good news in all of this is that we’re almost a lock to make the playoffs. Our odds of making it are, like, 99% or something. This is really happening!