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.