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.