According To Vegas, The Huskies Are Apparently The Third-Likeliest Team To Win The Pac-12

That seems high, right? We’re talking about a team with a new head coach, new offensive and defensive coordinators, and a new quarterback whose first college start will be whenever he steps onto the field on September 5th (assuming football is being played that day, of course).

Of course, there’s something to be said for what continuity we do have: Chris Petersen retired and a lot of guys just moved up one level within the organization (including Jimmy Lake, our new head coach). There’s also something to be said for addition by subtraction: Bush Hamdan being fired is almost definitely a plus, regardless of WHO takes his place. And, sure, I’ll buy that there’s a solid core of guys on this team that’s held over from last year; it’s not all about who’s under center in college football, not by a long shot.

The Huskies’ odds are 7/2, according to the William Hill sportsbook. That’s behind only Oregon (11/5) and USC (5/2), two teams who figure to be pretty great once again in 2020. They were 8-1 and 7-2 respectively in conference last year; the Huskies were a disappointing 4-5.

I don’t know if there’s ANY scenario where I’d be comfortable with the Huskies being rated this highly, but I’ll tell you this much: I don’t like these odds when we’re talking about extremely limited pre-season training camp/practice time! Of the three quarterbacks who have yet to start a college football game, I’d like them to compete a LITTLE bit before we hit the ground running against Michigan in the first week of the season!

Going forward, we’re talking about just the three games’ worth of warm-up before we go on the road to face prohibitive favorite Oregon. We also have to play last year’s Pac-12 South champions in the Utah Utes, this year’s Pac-12 South favorites USC, and a VERY strong Pac-12 North sleeper in Cal … ALL on the road. I could see us losing every single one of those games if things don’t pan out! That doesn’t even factor in going on the road in the Apple Cup, to face a Cougs team that’s absolutely STARVING to beat the Huskies for the first time since 2012!

To round out the betting odds, we’ve got:

  • Utah (5/1)
  • Arizona State (10/1)
  • Washington State (15/1)
  • UCLA (18/1)
  • Cal (18/1)
  • Arizona (25/1)
  • Stanford (30/1)
  • Oregon State (75/1)
  • Colorado (150/1)

If I had to risk the Taylor Family Farm once again on these longer shots, sign me up for Cal in a heartbeat. Utah strikes me as a fool’s errand. I don’t know if I buy ASU as a true contender (though, in the Pac-12 South, you never know). I also wouldn’t sleep on WSU. Feels like a longer shot than Cal, but ALL of their toughest games are at home, plus they somehow avoided USC on their schedule.

Regardless, unless the odds go way down, I don’t think I’d be comfortable putting any money on the Huskies as it stands now.

A New Era Of Husky Football

This spot is where I would normally have my Seahawks diatribe, but the Huskies had their bowl game, it was Chris Petersen’s final game, and we’ve got even MORE great news that came out yesterday. Why dwell on the Seahawks (when they’re going to lose to the 49ers, then lose to the Eagles or Cowboys in the first round anyway) when we can focus on happier, more hopeful things?

First and foremost, the Huskies throttled the Boise State Broncos, 38-7. We got off to our usual hot start – jumping out to a 24-0 lead early in the second half – and pretty much coasted from there. The defense continued its impressive finish to the season after back-to-back home losses to Oregon and Utah. In our final four games, we gave up a total of 47 points (11.75 per game) and more or less looked like the Husky defenses of the last few years. It was nice to see as we head into 2020 under new leadership.

Jacob Eason had a pretty good game, showing better touch out of a couple of his deep balls than I’d seen since the non-conference slate. He finished with 210 yards and a touchdown on 22/32 passing.

The game got a little frustrating in the second half, as we came out passing WAY more than we probably should have. When you’re up 24-0 (it turned into 24-7 on the very next Broncos drive, but it took them 11 plays and five and a half minutes to do it), you should be pounding the rock and draining as much clock as possible. Instead, I dunno, there were a couple of frustrating drives where the offense couldn’t do anything and it looked like Boise State might make a comeback. But, things settled down towards the end and we were finally able to get back on track and run out the clock.

I really liked what I saw out of Richard Newton, who had a nice 69 yards on the ground, one rushing touchdown, and another passing touchdown on a nifty trick play in the fourth quarter. I also thought Salvon Ahmed had a gutty performance, playing through some injury stuff, scoring twice. I could’ve even used more Kamari Pleasant, who looked explosive on his two carries for 14 yards.

It was a nice final game for Andre Baccellia, who caught 3 for 34 and a touchdown. I think a lot of us expected more out of his Husky career, but it was cool to at least get him a score on his way out. Terrell Bynum really led the way in receiving, catching 5 balls for 67 yards and a TD. Not really much else to get into from the receivers.

Defensively, Elijah Molden led the way in tackles, and REALLY came on late in the season. I hope he returns for his Senior year, because we could really showcase a guy with his talents. There was a good amount of pressure up front, but while it didn’t necessarily translate into a high sack number, we were able to force their quarterbacks into plenty of mistakes. Molden and Myles Bryant each had interceptions on the first two plays Boise State had in Husky territory (cool to see Bryant get one more – giving him 4 picks of his career (I thought he had more for some reason) – as he heads to the NFL next year).

Chris Petersen ends his Husky career with a record of 55-26; his .679 winning percentage is good for seventh all time (if you count Marques Tuiasosopo’s 1-0 record as interim head coach for the one bowl game he coached). If you count only the Huskies who coached 20+ games, Petersen is fourth all time (interestingly enough, just one spot ahead of Rick Neuheisel.

Coach Pete’s teams won two Pac-12 championships in six years, and played in three major bowl games (including one College Football Playoff game). Three straight years in major bowls is nothing to sneeze at; unfortunately we went 0-3 in those games, and only went 2-4 total in bowl games. These were GOOD Husky teams under Coach Pete, but they could never quite get over the hump on a national stage. Close, but of course, no cigar.

That’s unfortunately the legacy for him right now. Things could change, assuming all the talking points are correct: that Coach Pete laid the foundation for greater things to come and all that. If Jimmy Lake can keep it up with his recruiting, if he can develop those players, if he can turn them into wins on the field, championships in the conference, and wins in major bowl games, then I think we can paint Coach Pete’s tenure a little more rosy than we do right now. I won’t say he was a disappointment, but I will say that I kinda hoped for more.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s bigtime college football, if your goal isn’t conference titles, Rose Bowls, and National Championships, then what’s the point? Why should we continue to settle for less than the SEC and Big-10 and all the other conferences out there who have success? We should hold our revered head coaches to the same standard any other bigtime fanbase would hold theirs. You think Alabama fans are happy to be playing Michigan this year? You think they’re settling for a “good” season? No, they’re probably pissed off and hungrier than ever for next year!

That’s where we need to be, and I’m hopeful that Jimmy Lake is the guy to take us there. He already made me a fan for life by firing Bush Hamdan yesterday. I honestly have no idea why Hamdan was ever hired in the first place, other than he was a “Chris Petersen Guy”. I mean, he was a low-level assistant for Washington early in his tenure, then he was Quarterbacks Coach for the Atlanta Falcons, and that makes him qualified to call plays and design an offense for a major college program?

Washington’s offense was TOTAL SHIT under Hamdan, who was in over his head from Day 1, and I’m fucking glad he’s gone. He’s been the bane of my existence for the last two years, and I’m so happy that Lake’s first change was to rid this program of that bum. This gives Washington the entire rest of the bowl season to look for his replacement – as well as, interestingly enough, Jimmy Lake’s own replacement as the defensive coordinator. Do we make Pete Kwiatkowski the regular, full-time defensive coordinator again? That was his job before Jimmy Lake assumed control as co-coordinator and head defensive playcaller. If you want to talk about continuity within the program, that’s probably the best way to go. Offensively, on the other hand, I think we have to bring in someone from the outside. Preferably a more veteran coordinator who won’t be an immediate head coaching candidate for every other school in the conference.

I’ll admit, though, Saturday’s game was a little emotional. More than anything, I’m happy the Huskies could send Coach Pete off as a winner. There weren’t a ton of people expecting a Husky victory over a previously 12-1 Boise State team, but they hadn’t played anyone all year, and this just felt like the perfect opportunity to show why Chris Petersen made the change in the first place.

He could’ve stayed at Boise State his whole career; hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’d still be chugging along for the next decade or longer if he’d just stayed where the conference is small and the expectations are relatively low (a la Mark Few at Gonzaga). Unlike the Zags, however, you REALLY need to be in one of the Big 5 conferences to compete for a championship. Mid-majors in basketball go to the Final Four all the time; unless the NCAA Football side of things expands to an 8-team playoff, I just don’t see a mid-major football program cracking through. Indeed, even if it does go to an 8-team playoff system, and you find the occasional Boise State or TCU or Baylor or whatever in there, 8 teams means 3 games you have to win to win the National Championship; that’s going to weed out pretty much every single mid-major program who’s lucky enough to sneak in there.

Petersen knew that, and that’s why he came to Washington. Unfortunately, with all the good that comes with college football at this level (access to better recruits, better facilities, better stadia, etc.), there’s also tons of bad. All the recruiting games and bullshit, dealing with other schools poaching your players, all the nonsense with Pac-12 scheduling and our inept commissioner, and of course, the NCAA itself and the inherent bias towards programs east of the Rockies. Then, there’s all the media obligations, the ass-kissing of the high-level donors, the non-stop, 24/7/365 nature of the game and the news cycle and social media … I mean, it’s a SHIT-TON of bullshit to wade through, when all you really want to do is coach your players and play the game of football.

I can see why he wanted to at least take a break, if not retire for good. If he gets the itch again, I’m sure there’s a small school he can go to where the limelight won’t be quite so insane.

It was a pleasure having Coach Pete here. There were a lot of highlights in such a brief span of seasons. And, the University of Washington is definitely better having had him here.

Now, it’s time to look ahead to a new and exciting brand of football.

Huskies Need To Fire Bush Hamdan; Jacob Eason Needs To Move On

BURN IT ALL TO THE MOTHERFUCKING GROUND.

Or, you know, just those two things.

I’ve spent the better part of the 2019 season bashing Hamdan and defending Eason, but at this point they both just need to go away. With Hamdan, it’s obvious: he just doesn’t know how to call plays. I’m not saying that I would do a better job, because I’m a nobody college football fan. But, I know someone who TOTALLY SUCKS when I see him, and Bush Hamdan is among the worst play-callers and designers-of-offenses I’ve ever seen, and I had to suffer through Jeremy Bates with the Seahawks in 2010!

Now, obviously, the offensive coordinator is the usual whipping boy for every single football team that’s ever existed. But, I don’t remember Husky fans complaining NEARLY as much about Jonathan Smith when he was here. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • 2014 – 30.2 points per game, 56th in college football
  • 2015 – 30.6 points per game, 54th in college football
  • 2016 – 41.8 points per game, 8th in college football
  • 2017 – 36.2 points per game, 17th in college football

That’s all you really need to know about Jonathan Smith’s tenure. Now, on to Bush:

  • 2018 – 26.4 points per game, 89th in college football
  • 2019 – 31.5 points per game, 47th in college football

That’s bad-to-mediocre. I would argue in 2014 & 2015, those were rebuilding years where we were saddled with the previous regime’s players and breaking in a Freshman quarterback (respectively). By 2018 & 2019, we’re well established in the Chris Petersen regime, and should have no trouble putting up points. Oregon State scores more than we do this year, which is where Jonathan Smith is now head coaching, and it should tell you all you need to know about how pathetic this offense has been under Bush’s watch.

But, this year hasn’t been solely his fault. Jacob Eason is a 5-star prospect, and will be drafted in the first round or two in the NFL very soon based on his promise, but he’s not a good quarterback, full stop. He has a cannon of an arm, and he’s 6’6, so he’s literally everything the NFL wants out of a signal caller. But, he can’t run, and in the game today, if you’re not mobile, you’re automatically a liability (as it’s taking longer for NFL linemen to get up to speed than ever before). He’s also just medium-accurate at 63.5% this year (with a fair number of drops contributing to this number, I’ll admit). But, he has absolutely NO touch on his deep balls, which I find remarkable. He’s consistently over-throwing even our fastest receivers, and he puts too much mustard on even the intermediate-deep passes that should be completed for chunk plays. If you think of Russell Wilson’s rainbow arcs as the ideal for deep passing, Eason can seemingly only throw balls on a direct line, which necessitates him being PERFECTLY accurate to complete anything beyond 20 yards (which he rarely is).

I saw so many terribly-thrown balls in the Colorado game that, at this point, it’s just time to cut our losses and try someone new in 2020. Even if we have to go through another season of growing pains, so be it. I just don’t see the point in running it back with Eason again. Is he going to improve so dramatically at everything he sucks at? I mean, he doesn’t REALLY want to be here; he settled for Washington after it didn’t work out at Georgia. It should be a pretty clear red flag that someone who couldn’t keep a true freshman from taking his job with the Bulldogs wouldn’t be the type of guy to take Washington back to the playoffs. Plus, I mean, Jake Haener really took him down to the wire in training camp, and he had to settle for Fresno State when he transferred! It’s not like Washington’s receivers are going to be improved enough to blanket over Eason’s flaws (John Ross isn’t walking through that door anytime soon). And either we’ll have Year 3 with Bush Hamdan’s terrible scheme, or Year 1 with someone new, and therefore a whole new set of growing pains to work through.

If that’s the case, and it’s a new offensive coordinator, I’d rather he start fresh with a new quarterback so they can grow in the system together.

The bottom line is the Huskies are 6-5 and it’s all the offense’s fault. Not really, but give me this one. Washington has been trash against trash opponents and this year is a total, unmitigated embarrassment. I mean, what even was that Colorado game?! We should’ve beaten them by 30! Instead, we lost to a team that isn’t even going to make a bowl game. For anyone who’s counting, that’s TWO losses to teams who won’t be playing in bowl games (along with Stanford).

The only silver lining to this weekend is that Oregon lost. I know that drastically reduces our chances of a Pac-12 team making the playoffs – with Utah running the table being our only minor hope – but fuck it. Fuck the Ducks. Let them continue to suffer in obscurity!

This week, we have a Friday-After-Thanksgiving Apple Cup. Not my favorite scheduling day of the season, but I’ll try to knock off work early and get home in time for the second half. The Cougs already won their sixth game, so this game is effectively meaningless. But, it’s still the Apple Cup. State pride is on the line.

I have to admit, though, getting up for this one will be tough. I mean, if we HAD to lose to the Cougs, I’d rather lose here as opposed to in a season where the Rose Bowl is on the line, for instance.

But, I keep thinking of Mike Leach’s predictable offense going up against our Jimmy Lake-led defense and I know everything will be all right. The players change, but Leach stays the same, and as such it should be one of the few smooth Husky victories of 2019.

2019 Husky Football Hits The Home Stretch

It’s been a disappointment any way you slice it. We’re 6-4 which is at least two losses too many, and quite frankly even TWO losses would be a disappointment! I mean, the more games that have been played by the rest of the Pac-12 schools, the worse it looks.

I don’t know if anyone’s all that surprised that the Huskies lost to the two Pac-12 teams currently ranked in the Top 10, but the fact they were both home games is pretty galling (aside from the fact that one of those teams is the Ducks, and fuck the Ducks). Also, I mean, 1-3 at home in conference play overall is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable.

But, going deeper, the loss early to Cal was rough, but they supposedly had an elite defense, so it halfway made sense. That team is now 5-5 (2-5 in conference, which is actually worse than us somehow), has won one of their last six games, and is in actual danger of not making a bowl game.

Then, there’s the Stanford loss; that team is now 4-6 and 3-5 in conference play (also somehow worse than us; how that’s possible I have no idea). The Cardinal will have to beat Cal and Notre Dame to get to bowl eligibility, so that’s not happening.

We could nevertheless be talking about losses to two teams who won’t be playing in a bowl game. What world am I living in?

Meanwhile, the Huskies got to six wins down in Oregon State, which is probably our second-best win of the season? That’s absolutely tragic; even then, we’re talking about a 19-7 game where our defense finally showed up to play 10 games into the season. Our offensive coordinator, however, is still the butt of every single joke among Husky fans, because if he’s not the absolute worst, he’s at least top 5. In what category, you ask? Take your fucking pick.

This week, we go down to Colorado for a night game, after our second BYE in four weeks. So, we should be plenty rested, anyway. And the Buffs are terrible, so I would HOPE we’ll walk all over ’em. Don’t be so sure, because Bush Hamdan no doubt has plenty of wildcat calls on 3rd & short to be stuffed! If not them, then easy out routes for the opposing defense to jump for more pick-sixes! Let’s not let our big-armed quarterback do what he does best: throw deep down field. Let’s keep dinking and dunking to receivers who can’t hold onto the ball because they were too used to catching wobblers from Jake Browning and don’t know what it’s like to catch a pass from an actual NFL-calibre quarterback!

The good news is, with this game followed by the Apple Cup (against the 2-5 – in conference – Cougs), the Huskies SHOULD get to 8 wins on the season. The bad news is that we might get too GOOD of a bowl game, and thus Chris Petersen won’t have a chance to improve upon his shabby bowl record with the Huskies. It’s becoming a thing, you see. All these bowl losses. Don’t think we haven’t noticed.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m glad this season is almost over. It’s tainting other things that should be bringing me more joy. Let’s finish this thing and move on to next year as soon as fucking possible.

The Huskies Blew A Game They Absolutely Should’ve Won

I mean, what the fuck, man? You’re up 14 points in the second half at home, you’re supposed to win that fucking game! Bottom line!

It was set up about as perfectly as you can draw it up. The Ducks tied it at 14, then with three minutes left in the first half, the Huskies drove down and scored a TD to go up 7. We got the ball back with the second half kickoff, and promptly proceeded to drive down for another TD. It was brilliant!

But, the defense is an absolute joke. This is the worst defense we’ve had in the Chris Petersen era, period. Especially in the front seven, which has no answers. The D-Line stinks, the linebackers are non-existent. And the secondary – with all the studs we’ve been recruiting – aren’t good enough either! We’ve lived a charmed life with Jimmy Lake rising through the ranks, but this is an embarrassment and he can’t be excluded when we criticize this team.

I know everyone wants to kill Bush Hamdan as well – and I’ll run out there with you, pitchfork and torch in hand, if he calls one more fucking wildcat play on 3rd & short – but 31 points should be enough to win any game Washington plays.

The last thing I want to do is re-live this game in any sort of detail. I will say that drive – the one where it ended on a wildcat 3rd & 2 call, with Jacob Eason split out wide like the fucking scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz – was the backbreaker. As soon as that run was predictably stuffed, this game was over. Because the defense didn’t have a prayer in the world of stopping Oregon, and because you knew – with one drive on the line to decide the game – this offense didn’t have what it took to score a touchdown.

Also, I know Twitter was aflame with calls for pass interference, but the Washington receiver fell down, plain and simple, and no ref would EVER throw the flag on something like that, at that point in the game. You have to make your own breaks in football; you can’t hope the refs are going to bail you out (as bad as the Pac-12 refs usually always are, I’m not wasting my voice from the stands to boo them), so I don’t blame them one bit.

The Huskies were probably overdue for a BYE week, so you could say this comes at the right time. I think we could all use a week off from the Purple & Gold. Let’s get our minds right and try to get it up for the November 2nd game against Utah. The Las Vegas Bowl is calling our names.