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.

Chris Petersen’s Final Husky Game Will Be In The Vegas Bowl Vs. Boise State

I guess it’s like a cool story or whatever, but I’m bored to fucking death already with the fact that Washington will be going up against Coach Pete’s old team on the 21st. I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that we have to go up against a team we’ve seen a lot of throughout the years (as opposed to someone new and fresh that we’ve never seen before), or the possibility of losing to the Broncos as one final Fuck You before Petersen rides off into the sunset or whatever.

Really, I could see it going either way. I could see us just whomping the shit out of them, and I could also see us totally blowing it. We already know the Huskies will be without Hunter Bryant and Trey Adams, and honestly I don’t blame them one iota. With their injury histories, and their potential to go high in the NFL Draft next year, they HAVE to protect themselves over playing in some piddling bowl game on the second day of Bowl Season.

And that, quite frankly, hurts the Huskies’ chances on offense considerably. It’s been The Hunter Bryant Show on offense for this entire year, but especially in the second half of the season. The rest of our receiving corps either drops the ball or can’t get open (or gets hopelessly overthrown by our quarterback who has one speed on his passes: four-seam fastball). And, considering Eason’s struggles at the slightest hint of pressure, losing our starting left tackle for this game can’t be good at all.

I don’t know how our O-Line will look next year, but there’s a lot to hope for out of our tight end room. It sounds like we’ve got some good guys on the roster, and more quality coming in the next class.

My hope for this game is – with the additional practices – the defense continues its trend of dominating performances down the stretch. I’d like to see us hold Boise State’s high-flying offense in check to really send us off with a lot of momentum heading into 2020. It would be a nice feather in the cap of Jimmy Lake as he pounds the pavement on the recruiting trail; we’ll need all the good news we can get from that side of the ball.

At this point, it’s unknown if Jacob Eason will be back next year, but given his poor finish – on top of the litany of quality QBs coming out in the 2020 draft – he should probably give it some thought. I’m not even sure if he’ll be playing in this GAME, which would make it doubly interesting from a Looking Ahead perspective.

Look, of course I’m going to watch the game and root for the Huskies, but this is obviously not where we all thought we’d be heading into bowl season. We’re in the 6th-highest bowl game in the Pac-12, our head coach is retiring, and there’s a ton of uncertainty swirling around the 2020 season. It would be nice to go out on a high note, but I’m also not really getting my hopes up.

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.

Are The Huskies Even Good Enough To Make A Bowl Game?

I really shouldn’t have to write this, but here we are.

I thought we were going to beat the Utes on Saturday. In fact, as we jumped out to a 14-3 first half lead, I kept getting angrier and angrier. Where was this two weeks ago against the Ducks?! If it were up to me, I would’ve GLADLY lost to the Utes if it meant a victory over Oregon. Instead, I get neither, as once again our second-half defense blew it.

I don’t have anything good to say here. This was Jacob Eason’s worst game as a Husky, as his two interceptions and one fumble were all back-breakers.

The running game didn’t do much, but that was to be expected. We’re as banged up as you can get, plus Utah’s defensive front seven is really good.

And, of course, our defense just isn’t anywhere NEAR the level they’ve been in recent seasons. We ended up with 4 sacks when it was all said and done, but with the game on the line we couldn’t stop the Utes from marching right down the field.

It also wasn’t a great game for our coaches, whose in-game adjustments never pan out. Plus, on our last TD drive, we ended up blowing 2 time outs when we needed to preserve all three when the onside kick ultimately failed. There’s just no defense of calling either time out in that situation.

And, here we are, 5-4 in the waning moments of a lost season. Yet another reminder that Washington isn’t in the same league as the true elites of college football, in spite of our recent successes. The REAL bigtime programs don’t have down seasons like this. We’re somewhere in that second or third tier, which is super disappointing.

We get back-to-back road games at Oregon State and Colorado (sandwiching our second BYE week), and while those programs are far from great, the Beavers are much better than they’ve been in recent years. And, with the way our defense has played this season, I’m not discounting the Buffs with their one conference victory.

This Friday evening should be fun, but not because the Huskies are going to Oregon State on a short week. That game will be televised on the smaller TV in our living room, as the Husky basketball season tips off an hour earlier! At this point, I’ll be going through the motions with Husky football the rest of the way; it’s all about our hoops team and our eventual Final Four visit in March Madness 2020!

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.

People Are Saying The Huskies Suffered The Worst Loss Of The Chris Petersen Era

My beer pong game had been struggling considerably the last couple tailgates, so I invited my brother over for a marathon binge sesh. From around 4-7pm on Saturday, we went back and forth, and by the time the Husky game started, I feel like I finally started getting my groove back. We’ll see about maybe running it back next week before tailgating season resumes.

That has nothing to do with the game on Saturday, it’s just an explanation for why I don’t really remember a whole lot about what happened.

I remember feeling invincible early, I remember mistakes just killing us throughout, and I remember feeling totally helpless by the end. That, no matter what we did, we just couldn’t get out of our own way. We made a mediocre team look like world beaters, but I can’t use that old excuse again. I can’t say “the better team lost” because the better team actually won. Stanford took it to us, and we had no way to stop them.

This was certainly one of the poorer coaching jobs we’ve seen from this regime, and that’s more of a Getting The Kids Prepared sort of angle. WHY DO THE HUSKIES CONTINUE TO PLAY LIKE SHIT IN GAMES THAT START AFTER 7PM??? It makes no sense, and I’m starting to get the feeling that since the coaches hate starting late, it’s bleeding into the players, and we’re all using it as an excuse to not play like we usually do. It’s like how the Seahawks used to lose all the time on the road in 10am starts; it’s mind over matter, and right now these late starts are IN OUR HEADS.

But, was it the worst Husky loss in Chris Petersen’s tenure here?

Well, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. With the turnover in personnel, I’m hard pressed to care too much about the first couple seasons (though, that loss to ASU in 2015 – where we had a 17-0 lead in the first half before blowing it 27-17 – certainly still sticks in my craw).

I’d have to start with 2017, again a game at ASU. The Sun Devils were 2-3 heading into that one (much like Stanford was this past weekend), whereas the Huskies were undefeated. At that point in the year, nothing was pointing to ASU being anywhere NEAR our league – especially since we were #5 in the nation at that point, coming off of a 2016 season where we made the playoffs – but if memory serves, it was another late start. We weren’t great on defense, but still held them to 13 points. Once again, it was the offense that faltered, where we only scored the lone touchdown in losing 13-7. Considering the expectations heading into that season – a repeat trip to the playoffs, with the hope we’d maybe make it to the championship game – I still believe that’s the worst loss of the Petersen era (regardless of the fact that we would go on to lose in Stanford four weeks later).

I also think the game last year at Cal ranks as a worse loss than this one on Saturday. That one was particularly brutal, because he finally benched Jake Browning, only for Jake Haener to come in and throw a pick-six to cost us the game. And, don’t forget the loss to the Ducks last year, where we settled for a long field goal late in the game, with a kicker who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I’d even be tempted to put this year’s Cal game ahead of the Stanford loss, for no other reason than it was a home defeat and we’re ALWAYS supposed to win in Husky Stadium.

The point is, let’s have a little perspective here. Saturday’s defeat wasn’t the worst. Sure, it’s fucking annoying that we can’t go into that mausoleum of a stadium and win a fucking game, but good teams are supposed to be tough to play on the road. The Cardinal are as banged up as can be, but they’re still coached by a really smart guy, and they’re helmed by a 5-star recruit at quarterback. I never expected to go in there and walk all over them – in spite of what my bravado might force me to say in my drunken reverie.

At the same time, all of these terrible losses have a theme, and that theme is the offense letting the team down. I won’t let the defense off the hook entirely; I mean, what the fuck was up with that wide open 42-yard touchdown?! The secondary is supposed to be among the tops in the game, but they’re still battling some frustrating growing pains. It’s clear the defensive line is a real problem, though. Dude ran for 151 yards on 33 carries; that’s not the D-Line of a Top 10 team in the nation; that’s a fucking joke. This staff needs to re-TRIPLE its efforts in beefing up the front seven on defense. You have to love what they’re doing in recruiting secondary, O-Line, quarterbacks, and the skill positions on offense; but they’ve been seriously neglecting the D-Line and the chickens are coming home to roost in 2017. For the longest time, we’ve gotten by with one good guy. Vita Vea, then Greg Gaines, but we don’t even have ONE guy this year. No one we can count on to plug up the middle, or get a huge pressure when the chips are down. That’s not going to cut it if we want to be the class of the Pac-12 and try to bring a championship back to the northwest.

But, I mean, when is this offense going to pick up the slack? We’re always waiting for the defense to make a big play; when is it the offense’s turn? Eason is still getting burned by his receivers dropping balls, but he also doesn’t look like the savior we all hoped he’d be. He’s got all the arm talent in the world and he might be destined for better things in the NFL, but we might be better off if he leaves school after this year so we can start fresh with someone else who we can grow with over a couple years.

These games are always even more disappointing when you see how the running game was abandoned. Whatever the over/under is on rushing yards for next week’s Arizona game, I’m taking the over. No one is better at over-correcting for a neglected rushing attack than Coach Pete.

It sucks, because it feels like we’re overdue for some wacky shenanigans with a few Top 10 teams. The Huskies lost in Week 2; if we could’ve run the table against a relatively weak schedule, we might’ve put enough distance from our lone defeat that could’ve allowed us to sneak into a playoff situation. Not only is that dead, you really have to wonder if our chances at a Pac-12 Championship Game are in jeopardy. We’re now 1-2 in conference; even if we beat Oregon and run the table, we still need a lot of help. At just the midway point in our season, that’s a terrible feeling to have.

I’m glad the Huskies aren’t ranked anymore; we don’t deserve to be in the Top 25. I hope this is a wake-up call to everyone in the program. We can’t just coast through life on our reputation and our high school recruitment rankings. And, for the love of God, we’ve GOT to figure out a way to win these late night games! We’re in the Pac-12, we’re going to be playing this late quite a bit!

A No-Nonsense Victory For The Huskies Over The Trojans

USC sort of threw us off the scent with their impressive victory over Utah. Granted, they were at home, and it’s hard for any team to go undefeated in conference play, but I’m of the belief that the Utes are really good, and for about a week there we all wondered if USC is too.

But, this is still the same Trojans team that lost by 3 on the road to BYU (a place where the Huskies won by 26). These things don’t always translate one-to-one, but there’s one team that struggled against an inferior opponent, and there’s another team that went in and dominated. As such, the Huskies should’ve had no problem handling the Trojans in Montlake, and lo and behold, here we are.

Nothing to be ashamed about to win this one 28-14. The Huskies jumped out to a 14-0 lead and enjoyed a nice country stroll the rest of the way. Similarly to the Seahawks game against the Cardinals, the Huskies didn’t take any chances, put out a very safe product on the field, and took the W any way we could get it.

You never like seeing the fumbles, but the team rallied and I thought the defense played their best game of the year. We forced three interceptions and limited their third-string quarterback to 163 yards on 19/32, which is absolutely what you’re supposed to do. Their running game was pretty stout, but they were playing from behind all day, so by that token time was their biggest enemy. Keep the plays in front of you, force them into long clock-chewing drives, and when the game’s on the line, stiffen at the goalline to get the turnover on downs! Bingo, bango, bongo!

Salvon Ahmed really opened up my eyes in this one, running 17 times for 153 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies were able to handle BYU without him, but he showed why he’s so important to this team, highlighted by an 89-yard run to the house where he just flew past everyone. Other than Aaron Fuller and Hunter Bryant having solid games, there really wasn’t a lot to talk about offensively. Eason was okay, but he didn’t really have to do a whole lot.

I’d been waiting for the defense to assert itself, and this was the coming out party. This side of the ball should continue to get better as the season goes on. The secondary looked great, really for the first time all year, which will be important because getting to the quarterback is still our biggest weakness. You’d hope the front seven would be better at holding down the rushing attack if they’re not going to get many sacks, so we’ll see if that’s cleaned up next week.

It’s off to Stanford for Pac-12 After Dark next week. The Cardinal are truly one of the great disappointments in the conference this season, which should bode well for our chances, as we’ve struggled every time we’ve had to go down there. I know it’s on the road, and all road conference games are tough, but it would be a fucking disaster if we lost this one. They’ve looked pretty bad in road games against USC and UCF, as well as a home loss to Oregon (while their only wins were close ones against Northwestern and Oregon State); you could argue they’ve been bitten by a difficult first-half schedule, but they don’t really move the ball well and they give up a lot of points. Just a bad combo.

Nevertheless, it IS Pac-12 After Dark, and the Huskies seem to REALLY struggle in these games, so I’m taking nothing for granted in this one. I had this game (and this 2-game stretch in general, with another one on the road against the Wildcats next week) as the toughest of our season, and Stanford’s shabby 2-3 record isn’t really going to change my mind. The Huskies need to play like we all know they’re capable of playing and we should walk out of this game satisfied. If not, then I dunno man.

Huskies Close Out A Perfect Non-Conference Schedule

It wasn’t the mightiest of non-conference schedules, but since we don’t really have to worry about playoffs, I’m not gonna read too much into it. We beat Eastern, Hawaii, and BYU by a combined 144-53, which is pretty much what you want to see when your team is great and your opponents are … not.

Yet another quick start for the Huskies, jumping out to a 21-3 lead. From there, it was pretty much cruise control. Once again, Jacob Eason looked fantastic, throwing for 24/28 for 290, 3 TDs, and 1 INT. The pick was pretty bad, but so many of his throws were NFL-calibre. Talk has intensified every week about the likelihood that Eason declares for the League after this season, and I’m inclined to believe that over the alternative. At the very least, I’m not getting my hopes up, and if by the grace of all that is holy he comes back for 2020, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. At this point … maybe a 5% chance he stays?

The running game was rock solid, even with Salvon Ahmed out with an injury. We’re so deep at the position, it really didn’t make much of a difference. Sean McGrew is a serviceable workhorse, and Richard “Big Richard” Newton looks like a real dynamo.

The receivers are as deep as we’ve had in a long time. Where we lack a top-line talent a la John Ross or Dante Pettis, the whole group is pretty great, with Hunter Bryant probably the biggest matchup problem of the bunch. He had just an okay game, but I feel like if you wanted to, you could ramp up his catches whenever you want. Aaron Fuller led the way with 8 for 91 and a TD, who’s probably the closest we’ve got to a true #1; Andre Baccellia is our primary speedster who had a nice game with 4 for 72 and a TD.

The defense didn’t get a ton of pressure on the road, but did force a couple fumbles and brought one back to the house. I feel like this unit is getting better with every game though, and by season’s end we should really be holding other teams down.

This week, conference play gets going again and the Huskies look to even up the record after a disappointing Cal loss. USC comes to town headed by their third string quarterback; they hosted Utah last week and came away with an impressive victory, so this one is no sure thing. Losing to BYU isn’t gonna win them many votes in the polls, but they’re still ranked at 21, so this will either be an impressive win for the Huskies, or they’re continuing to over-rate a mediocre Trojans team. We’ll see, but I still expect the Dawgs to prevail. Maybe somewhere in the 34-20 range.

The Huskies Enjoyed A Comfortable Victory Over Hawaii

I suppose you’d call that a palate-cleanser, huh?

It was 38-0 before Hawaii finally got on the board just before halftime, so it’s not like this one was ever in any doubt. You could argue things got a little hairy when the Rainbow Warriors pulled to within 38-20, but the defense stiffened up and the offense got going again to pull away 52-20.

Jacob Eason threw for 262 yards and 3 TDs. Hunter Bryant went off with 5 catches for 115 yards and a TD. Ahmed and McGrew each carried the ball 8 times for a combined 146 yards and a TD. Freshman Richard Newton only ran for 29 yards, but pushed the ball over the goalline 3 times!

Defensively, Myles Bryant led the way with 2 picks (the defense as a whole accounted for 3 picks and 4 passes defensed). There was only 1 sack for the group, but Hawaii seemed pretty concerned with getting the ball out quickly.

A lot like the Eastern game, the Huskies did what they were supposed to do: stick it to a vastly inferior opponent. You could argue this one was more impressive, as Hawaii had already beaten Arizona and Oregon State, but I would argue those are two of the worst Pac-12 teams we’ve got this year. We’ll see. Regardless, I don’t think anyone will be putting this one in the “quality win” bucket.

Next week, however, presents a significant challenge as the Huskies travel to BYU. To date, the Cougars went on the road to beat Tennessee, and are just coming off of a home victory over USC; they lost to Utah, but Utah’s a top 10 program right now, so that’s understandable. I feel pretty secure in saying that BYU will be playing in a bowl game this season, so with it being on the road, this will be no gimme.

Cal Apparently Has Washington’s Number

It’s hard not to be hyperbolic when talking about college football, as each game is seemingly more important than the last. The 2018 Huskies were out of the running for the College Football Playoffs well before our frustrating 12-10 defeat down in Berkeley. You could’ve argued, at the time, that losing to Cal (shortly after losing to Oregon, also on the road) eliminated our chances at a Pac-12 title, but thankfully the Ducks obliged and we were able to win out in conference play.

So, I don’t want to come on here all doom and gloom like. Whenever the Huskies lose, it’s always shocking, it’s always heartbreaking, and when you factor in the relative ease of our schedule, you can make the argument that even a single defeat drastically reduces our chances of making the College Football Playoffs. But, the fact of the matter is, these Huskies were never REALLY going to make the final four. That was always going to be far-fetched. There’s too much turnover on the roster (particularly on defense) and too much uncertainty around our transfer QB making his initial starts since leaving Georgia two years ago.

The win at home against Eastern was nice. It was convincing. But … they’re Eastern. They’re SUPPOSED to lose to Washington 47-14. The real test was always going to be Cal last week, and just like last year, it was a mess from the start. Only, this time was supposed to be different. This time, we were at home, and we were supposed to avenge our 2018 defeat!

I’ll admit, I was drinking at the tailgate all day, then I had a Marc Maron comedy show at The Moore that night, just as the game was getting started. But, I DVR’d the Dawgs, and with the considerable rain/lightning delay, I even managed to catch up to the live broadcast at some point in the third quarter.

I won’t blame the delay for the Huskies losing, but considering the game didn’t end until, what, after 1am local time? All I’ll say about that is I wonder how different the outcome would’ve been had there been no delay. Had it been just rainy without the lightning. Or, had it been comfortably overcast the whole time like it was the entire fucking day! That’ll haunt me as the season goes on, I’m not gonna lie.

The rushing attack for the Huskies was good enough to win. But, the passing game was severely lacking. There are numerous reasons: Colorado’s secondary might be the best in the country (or at least in the top 10), so it was going to be tough sledding regardless. There were also just a completely ridiculous number of drops from the receivers, which I still can’t comprehend. It didn’t look like Eason was throwing it too hard, but even if he was, those are balls that NEED to be caught. You’re playing for a Top 25 football program, you need to catch the ones that are thrown right to you. But, also, Eason wasn’t perfect; he missed a number of throws that could’ve kept the chains moving. And, some slice of the Blame Pie needs to go to the play caller, who had a brilliant game against Eastern, but obviously had his own struggles against Cal’s top tier defense.

Shifting gears, the Husky defense really shit the bed in the second half. Don’t get me wrong, they were fantastic in the first half, as the Huskies went into halftime up 10-3. But, for some reason, we couldn’t get to their quarterback anymore after the break, and we were allowing chunk plays left and right. Cal came right out and dominated from the kick to start the third quarter, tying the game in their opening drive, then taking the lead one drive later (with a Husky field goal wedged in the middle). We FINALLY forced a 3 & Out on Cal’s first drive of the fourth quarter, which gave the Huskies just enough of an opportunity to take a 19-17 lead thanks to a heroic 49-yard field goal with just over 2 minutes left in the game. But, facing those odds: two minutes left in the game, at their own 25 yard line, on the road in a relatively hostile environment (with, what, a tenth of the original crowd still in attendance?) against what’s supposed to be a Top 10 program in the nation, Cal was able to slice and dice down to our 1 yard line before making a chip-shot field goal with 8 seconds left in the game. I mean, at least provide A LITTLE resistance!

But, ultimately, the offense has to take more of the blame on this one. I mean, you’ve got to finish drives. You’ve got to score touchdowns, not field goals, particularly at home.

So, what does this mean going forward? I haven’t got a clue. It would be nice to not have our playoff hopes dashed quite so early in the season like they’ve been the last two years. But, this is college football, you get what you get. We’re only two games into the season, with two more non-conference games in a row before we get back to business. The division is still in play, the conference is still in play, and a major bowl game is still in play. Cal was always going to be the toughest defense we saw this regular season, we’ve gotten them out of the way, now we can move on and hopefully continue to grow this offense into something much more respectable.

I haven’t given up yet, is the point here. USC, Oregon, Utah, and Wazzu all have to come play us in Seattle. Our only real challenge on the road is probably Stanford and they don’t necessarily look like world-beaters at this point. We’ve just gotta keep plugging along – mostly undetected – and hope to catch some better luck in these close games.

Hawaii is on Saturday; they should be pushovers. Let’s take this one game at a time and see where we are by the end of September, when we get USC at home for our first major showdown.