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.

The Huskies Took BYU To Town, Prepare To Thrash UCLA

I spent the entire afternoon on Saturday tailgating to my heart’s content.  There was beer, there was beer pong, there was food, there was chatting with friends.  And then, before I knew it, I was whisked away, down the Padelford steps, along the Burke-Gilman Trail, down towards Husky Stadium …

Followed by a sharp right, down into the train tunnel, onto the train, and out at the Safeco Field stop.  See, this would be my final Mariners game of the season, and it’s the annual Oktoberfest celebration.  You buy a seat in a certain section, and you get a giant glass beer stein, a free beer, and the enjoyment of watching the Mariners beating up on the Rangers in a meaningless game in a meaningless season of our meaningless lives.  I want to say I browned out through 78% of it, and I definitely got lost on my way back to the seats after wolfing down an order of wings and a hot dog (I think).  The rest of the time, I want to say I was my usual charming, sophisticated self.  My night ended on my friend’s couch.

In my inebriated state, I do seem to recall someone telling me the Huskies were up 35 to 0, so I had that to look forward to on Sunday morning.  I DVR’d the game so I could watch it before the NFL kicked off, and boy was it a good one!

The running game was great (Ahmed had 86 on 10 carries with 2 TDs; Gaskin had 81 on 14 carries with 1 TD).  Jake Browning was damn near flawless (23/25, 277 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, and an incredible 9-yard TD run just before halftime).  Aaron Fuller led the way on the receiving side of things, with 8 catches for 107 yards.

After a punt on the first drive of the game, the Huskies scored on 5 of their next 6 drives (and, really, it should’ve been 7 of their next 7, except for 2 missed close-range field goals of 40 and 24 yards).  For all the hype of BYU’s stout defense (I mean, they DID go into Wisconsin and come away victorious), the Huskies were able to do whatever the fuck they wanted.

And yet, somehow the Husky defense STILL out-played the offense!  BYU had 7 first downs all game.  They had 194 total yards!  Only 34 on the ground!  They did biff a 45-yard field goal in the first half, but still, we would’ve shut them out entirely if it weren’t for a Chico McClatcher muffed punt late in the 4th quarter.  That was a legitimate Top 20 football team, and we DECIMATED THEM!

As a reward, the Huskies are back in the Top 10 in both polls.  That was, without question, our most impressive win of the season, and it came at a time where we really needed it.  Stanford did us no favors by losing to Notre Dame over the weekend.  Utah did us no favors by losing to the Cougs (making our 14-point road victory that much less impressive).  We were always the great hope of the Pac-12, and that’s only been further reinforced by what’s happened over the weekend.

This Saturday, we go to UCLA, who is currently winless and has looked pretty pathetic doing it.  I couldn’t be less worried about this one – even if it is on the road – but my focus is squarely on Oregon in two weeks.  They get to spend all this time working on JUST beating the Huskies, since the Pac-12 – in all of its wisdom – gave them a BYE week this week (while we get to go on the road in back-to-back games, because that’s fair for some reason).  I’m already quaking with rage for when we go to Eugene and …

I don’t even want to think about it.

Just hope that the Huskies aren’t peaking too early.  It’s hard to improve upon a game like that against BYU, but we might be going up against the very worst team in the conference this Saturday, so who knows?  The onslaught starts NEXT week.  Oregon is currently in the Top 20, Colorado is undefeated and in the Top 25, Cal was just in the Top 25 before losing to the aforementioned Ducks, and Stanford is in the Top 20 after losing to the aforementioned Fighting Irish.  Then, there’s a creampuff in the Beavers before going on the road for the Apple Cup, at which time you have to hope the Cougars will be ranked (they’re currently 4-1 and looking MUCH better than anyone had any right to expect them to be).

I’m telling you, if we pull it off, there’s no WAY this schedule can be held against us when it comes to the playoffs!

The Huskies Got By ASU, Look Forward to BYU

I love Husky night games.  If it were up to me, ALL the games would be on Saturday nights, because either that means a full day of tailgating at the stadium, or a full day of day-drinking at home ahead of watching it on TV.  Either way, I want to be blitzed by the time the Huskies take the field, and I want to use that lather to scream my lungs raw!

We didn’t quite have a full group at our tailgate last week, but we made the most of it.  I was, of course, up at the crack of dawn, so I had a full morning to drink coffee, shower, go to Tower Lanes in Tacoma for breakfast, read the entire newspaper, do most of the puzzles in the Local section (making the Jumble my bitch, as usual), and buy all the necessities I needed for a day of drunken revelry (two 18-packs of Bud Light, two bags of ice, and one big ol’ Smart Water for my post-game re-hydration).

There only ended up being four of us playing beer pong, but we managed to go HARD in the motherfuckin’ paint.  I’ve … I’ve had better days.  Good thing about beer pong is that even if you lose, that just means you’re drinking more, so it’s not like you’re losing at all!  Except when you spend hours on end arguing about fantasy football, in which case there are no winners.  Do I yell and scream about our league’s rules like most people yell and scream about their political beliefs?  Listen, I’m just trying to make our league great again, and if those cucks refuse to listen to reason, then I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyway, somehow we made it inside Husky Stadium for the start, and were rewarded with a wide receiver throwing an interception on the first play of the game, which I guess you don’t see every day.  I know everyone’s killing it, but how many times have we seen that play work to our advantage through the years?  What better time to do it than on the opening play of the game; who would POSSIBLY be expecting it?!

So, that led to ASU taking an early 7-0 lead.  But, the offense was on point, and we were able to go up 14-10 by the end of the first quarter.  From there, both defenses really took over, but moreso the Husky defense, which was its usual brand of fucking brilliant.

I read some recap on some blog somewhere about this game and the writer didn’t even once mention Ben Burr-Kirven, which is insane to me because he deserves to be the FIRST name mentioned when people talk about this game!  Dude had 20 tackles!  He was a MACHINE!  I think we all liked him enough when he took over the starting job, but I know I didn’t expect him to be the force he’s become.  He could go down as an all-time great when it’s all said and done!

It was a very interesting attack by ASU.  I didn’t have the greatest vantage – sitting/standing in the open endzone (opposite the student section) – but it looked like they were really careful with their offense.  They had 40 runs for 164 yards and actually averaged more yards per run than pass (4.1 to 3.9) as most throws looked to be of the bubble-screen variety.  That put them in a lot of Third & Manageables and they were able to convert 9/17 3rd/4th downs.  How they didn’t win the time of possession battle is mind-boggling to me, as it looked like their plan was to wear down our defense.  Too bad for them, we had plenty in the tank.

The Husky rushing attack was spread pretty decently between Gaskin and Ahmed (86 and 71 yards respectively), and Jake Browning had easily his best game of the season (202 yards on 15/22 passing, with 3 TDs against 0 INTs).  The real story was all the miracle catches hauled in by the likes of Aaron Fuller (3 for 50 and a TD), Ty Jones (2 for 43 and a TD), and Cade Otton (3 for 40 and a TD), among others.  A lotta toe-tapping, diving sideline catches for big scores and conversions.

In the end, with just under 7 minutes to go, the Huskies were up 27-13.  We punted to ASU and while the Sun Devils ended up scoring to pull it to 27-20, it took them over 4 minutes on 10 plays to do it.  We got the ball back with 2:54 left, with ASU holding 2 time outs, and we did what championship teams do:  we bled ALL the clock!  After two runs made it 3rd & 6, Jake Browning converted on a beautiful pass to Andre Baccellia.  An ASU personal foul penalty gave us another first down with just over 2 minutes to go, and we put it to bed from there.

Against a stout ASU team who beat a ranked Michigan State team, the Huskies took care of business.  It wasn’t the cleanest, prettiest game, but we got the job done.

This Husky schedule is as tough and formidable as they come, and it doesn’t get any easier this week with BYU coming to town.  The Cougars beat a top 10 Wisconsin team on the road, not to mention held an awesome Arizona offense in check, also on the road.  They’re in the top 20 at the moment, so we’re looking at our first signature win of the season if we can pull it off.  We know this much:  they won’t be intimidated by our atmosphere, so the football team is going to need to bring it.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Huskies going forward, as we have back-to-back road games (including at Oregon, who’s also in the top 20), with another road game against a now-ranked Cal team right before our showdown at home against Stanford in early November.  Running the table is still very much necessary, and it’s looking more difficult with every passing week.

Fortunately, the Huskies appear to be improving with every passing week.  They’re going to need to keep improving if they want to make this thing happen.

Washington Huskies Really Impressed Me With Road Victory Over Utes

My family threw its second-annual no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em tournament on Saturday night.  Max 6 players, $100 buy-in, with any number of $20 buy-in games after that.  These games usually feature a number of players losing early and waiting a long time before some sort of split pot ends the game and everyone can come back into a new one.

The Big Game started at 4pm and while I wasn’t the first one out, I was indeed the second person eliminated, and found myself killing a lot of time.  Once my brother was knocked out, the three losers ended up going downstairs to play some pool.  The remaining three players apparently could’ve kept going all night, and in the end it was a 3-way split that was pretty evenly divided, all things considered.

When I started playing poker again, it wasn’t even 6pm, just to give you an idea of how these poker games go.  They’re pretty quick.  The longest game of the night didn’t even get us to the start of the Husky game.

As I was pretty engrossed in keeping the poker games moving – I wouldn’t be eliminated from the table the rest of the night, as I want to say we played at least 4-5 more $20 games after The Big Game – so I was a little distracted when the Huskies finally took the field.  But, I came away REALLY impressed with how the Huskies handled their business down in Utah!

The Husky defense was the star of the show.  Obviously, when you win 21-7 on the road in the Pac-12, the defense is doing something right.  I haven’t seen a team blow up that many guys in a LONG time.  Seriously, that’s pretty close to how it would look if you pitted an NFL defense against a college offense; the University of Washington has a ton of NFL guys on its squad, and the Utes are playing with amateurs on offense.

Like I said, I didn’t have a great handle on this game otherwise.  I know this:  Myles Gaskin brought his lunch pail and his hard hat and went to WORK!  143 yards on 30 carries (!) for the Senior who was, for all intents and purposes, ALL of the running game.  Salvon Ahmed had only 3 carries for 5 yards, which is super weird, but that’s how the game shook out.

Right out of the gate, the defense forced a 3 & out, and the Huskies took the ball 65 yards for a Gaskin TD to take an early 7-0 lead on Utah’s blackout night.  The Utes worked a painfully long drive to tie it up at the end of the first quarter, but the Huskies came right back with a long drive of their own to start the second quarter to go up by the score of 14-7.  The defenses took over from there.

The Huskies didn’t score again until the third quarter, off of a Utah fumble.  We went 44 yards for a 21-7 lead, and that was that.

Late in the game, Jake Browning – who had a so-so night overall – threw a mind-boggling interception that left the Utes with the ball at the Husky 11 yard line.  But, the defense stood up and held them on downs.  The Utes would get the ball inside the Husky 30 yard line on their next possession, but again the defense held them out of the endzone.  Just an unbelievable performance by a top-notch unit.

This game was just so huge, and I couldn’t be happier that the Huskies not only won, but took care of business.  It gives me SO much more confidence in this team going forward.  The defense is humming, the running game broke out after two mediocre performances, now it’s just time to see Browning get uncorked and hopefully the Dawgs can get on a nice little roll here.

The rankings are what they are; they’re not to be worried about at this time.  We’re in the Top 10 or close to it, we’ll be fine.

Now we come home to a couple of high-profile games against surprisingly solid teams.  ASU already has an upset win over a ranked Michigan State at home (though, they dropped a road game to San Diego State this past weekend), so they look much more formidable than I thought coming into the season.

This sets up nicely, is what I’m trying to say.  The Huskies PROBABLY have to win out to make the playoffs (certainly beating both Stanford and Oregon is a must), but I can finally see it shaking out that way.  It’ll take some luck along the way, but the Huskies are overdue for some good luck.

With this win in Utah, my outlook on the Huskies has totally changed.  Now, Utah, get back on the horse and prove to the world that you’re one of the top Pac-12 teams that I think you are!

The Huskies Beat Up On The Fighting Hawks, Now It’s On To Utah

Last week’s 45-3 win was nothing special, but it was fun nonetheless.  I got to go to this one, and honestly the tailgating was the best part.

I thought the defense bounced back nicely.  Not that North Dakota poses much of a threat, but still.  I could’ve easily seen them throw up some garbage TDs late in the game, but we held them to just a field goal.  Really, their one long run of 69 yards (nice) was the only thing they did all day.

The offense, however, was another story.  Now, maybe it’s the dozens of beers I consumed that morning, but I really don’t remember us looking all that good.  The numbers would appear to bear that out.  Jake Browning threw for 313 yards and 2 TDs, but he also threw 2 picks.

The real galling thing about this game was how inept our rushing attack was for the second week in a row.  I mean, we’ve bolstered our O-Line, and we have an NFL running back in Myles Gaskin as our lead rusher; HOW ARE WE THIS BAD?  Gaskin ran 15 times for only 53 yards.  Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, but they only handed him the ball 4 times!  For 44 yards!  IT’S TIME TO GIVE AHMED MORE TOUCHES YOU GUYS, IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T NOTICED, HE’S PRETTY FUCKING GREAT!

There was apparently a lot of rushing after I left early in the 4th quarter – to go and catch that evening’s Mariners game – because the team as a whole looked okay with 195 yards and a 5.7 yards-per-carry average.  But, for the first half – where the Huskies only amassed a 17-0 lead – it was, as coach said, pedestrian.

I still stand by what I said before the Auburn game – I do believe it’s better to play those teams right out of the gate, as the surprise factor more than anything can be a big equalizer, particularly on the road like that – but maybe it wasn’t the best thing for THIS Husky team.  Maybe this team needed a soft landing to start the season, before ramping up against the more elite teams.

I sure as shit hope so, because we’ve got a pretty good team coming up this week in the Utes.  It’s a road game, it’s at 7pm, and it’s going to be a dogfight in every sense of the term!

Can’t lose this game.  At all.  I think that snuffs our playoff hopes before they even got started, and that would be a bummer too big to overcome.  Sure, the conference title would still be in play, but it sucks to think that’s a consolation prize this early in the season.  I’d like to still have that inkling of hope, if that’s all right with the Huskies.

I will say that I’m NOT going to jump on this bandwagon of fans who are clamoring for Jake Haener to take over for Browning … but I’d certainly consider it a lot more if Browning lays an egg in Utah.  At this point, I have to believe it’s all mental with him, and if he’s going to have the yips in every big game we play, then it’s time to move on and look to the future.  This Husky team is TOO GOOD to have a sub-par quarterback ruining the entire season.

Washington Lost To Auburn In The Stupidest Way Possible

Look, to try to recount every single way the Washington Huskies shot themselves in the foot would be an exercise in futility.  A Browning fumble here, a mind-boggling interception there, a missed field goal, a missed targeting penalty that falls on both the refs on the field and the replay review board … I mean, my blood is boiling the more I think about this shit.

The losers of these types of games always say this, but I’ll say it anyway:  THE BETTER TEAM LOST!  Auburn didn’t deserve that win.  But, I guess neither did Washington.

It’s not JUST Jake Browning’s fault, but boy does he carry his fair share of the burden.  The thing is, he didn’t totally shit the bed.  He threw for 296 yards and a 9.3 yard average.  I’d argue the play-calling did him little favors, and he compounded those by making things a million times worse.  I mean, if you’re throwing the ball away, THROW IT OUT OF FUCKING BOUNDS!  You’re a 4th year starter; that’s a mistake a true Freshman makes!  Also, if you’re going to run a fucking option play near the goalline, PITCH THE FUCKING BALL ON TIME!  Once again, it smacks of Browning trying to do too much; trying to shed this label of him not showing up in big games.  Just play within the offense and let your teammates make plays, THAT’S where Browning is elite.  We don’t need him to be Russell Wilson, we just need him to be Alex Smith and manage the fucking game.

Also, man, how soft was that defense?  They tightened up in the second half with some adjustments, but Auburn was still able to move the ball at will pretty much all game.  No turnovers, only 2 sacks, minimal pressure on the quarterback, and our vaunted secondary was picked apart!  Auburn’s mediocre quarterback was able to throw for 273 yards on 26/36 passing (and obviously a bevy of missed tackles were the shitty icing on top).

Just a fucking disaster from the get-go.  Obviously, it’s never good when your starting left tackle is hurt, but there should be enough depth on this team to compensate.  This was more about execution and I put as much of the blame on the coaching staff for not getting these players ready in time.  You had all off-season!  These looked like lost, scared little kids through most of the first half, and that’s on Coach Pete.

The shitty thing is that I don’t know how good Auburn really is.  They didn’t look particularly elite to me; I could easily see them losing 3-4 games this year.  We most likely lost to an inferior team in what was truly a home game for them, and losing that game will do us much more harm than the good of the fact that they’re on our schedule in the first place.

What I’m clinging to – because it feels wrong to abandon all hope on the season after 1 game – is that the Huskies are still a great team.  So great, in fact, that I have no doubt we can run the table if we catch a few breaks here and there.  Honestly, after some of the shit that’s gone down the last couple years, we DESERVE some breaks to go our fucking way!  I thought the passing game in general really stepped up in this one; we might not see a better defense the rest of the regular season.  So, that means we should be able to move the ball with regularity.

As predicted, this game came down to the Husky run game, and as I warned, if we ran for less than 150 yards as a team, we’d lose the game.  We ran for 102 on 33 carries.  Really, 8 of those carries were on the QB scrambling, so throw those away.  Our actual running backs had 24 carries for 111, which still isn’t great, but it’s a fine average.  Even though our pass game was getting big chunk plays, I thought we went away from the run too much.  I also thought the team should’ve used Salvon Ahmed more, as his quick burst as a change-of-pace to Gaskin was able to gash them pretty regularly.

So, yeah, SHITTY start to the season.  Got to put it behind us and get on with the rest of it.  There are a ton of games left in the college football season and when it comes time to decide the bowl/playoff teams, no one is really going to remember a whole lot about this Washington/Auburn game.  If I’m wrong and the Tigers are great, then the Huskies can hang their hats on playing them close; if I’m right and they’re mediocre, then whatever, it’s only one road loss in a tough environment against a pre-season top 10 team.  The Huskies have to take care of business the rest of the way, so let’s go to work.

Myles Gaskin Is Returning For His Senior Season

2018 was always going to be an interesting season for the Huskies.  Jake Browning’s senior year, lots of talent sticking around on defense, Pettis leaving for the draft (meaning the wide receiver group was totally up for grabs), and Lavon Coleman graduating.  When you were under the assumption – as I was – that Myles Gaskin was going to leave for the NFL after his Junior year, that meant the running back room was up for grabs too.  Salvon Ahmed, obviously, had the inside track after his solid Freshman year in 2017, but we were destined to see a lot of new faces back there, until we landed on a 2-man or 3-man regular rotation.

Instead, Gaskin is back!  He’s back as the team’s unquestioned starter, he’s set to break just about every single rushing record in Washington football history, and it gives us Husky fans one less thing to worry about when it comes to this offense in 2018.

Obviously, with Coleman gone, Ahmed’s role is set to increase, and you figure the next-best back will get some of those old Ahmed touches from 2017 (assuming Ahmed doesn’t convert to receiver or something).  The Huskies have been recruiting some highly ranked running backs under Coach Pete, so I’ll still be interested to see the new crop start to get their looks.

I would also think Gaskin’s usage doesn’t change much.  He’s not going to suddenly become a workhorse.  He’ll still lead the way, but I wouldn’t expect the team to ride him to death.

It’s interesting, though, because it looked like he did everything he could do in college.  Under normal circumstances, he would’ve been gone in a heartbeat.  But, this year, there’s a glut of running backs coming out of college, and apparently he was given a 4th round grade by people who study this stuff.  Which, if you’ve heard about pre-draft grades, you know how those can vary (just see Chris Polk’s fall).  4th round is probably a best-case scenario this year, with a very real possibility that it’s more like a 5th or 6th round reality.

There’s the risk though.  You risk coming out early and disappearing in the draft, or you risk playing another season, getting injured, regressing a little bit, but maybe coming out in a draft with fewer quality running backs.  I dunno.  If you love college and are committed to getting your degree, then I think that’s a real factor as well.  Hell, I LOVED college, I never would’ve left if it was monetarily feasible.

So, good news for Husky fans, though a little bit of a bummer for Gaskin.  Here’s hoping he just blows everyone away in 2018 and gets his draft stock to soar!

Oregon? More Like BOREgon!

We like to have fun.

When you spend the better part of seven hours tailgating, playing lots of beer pong, eating lots of food, watching lots of football on a TV out of the back of a van, huddled around a fire and shooting the shit with friends, time tends to get away from you.  As such, first quarters of football games tend to get missed.  By the time we got into the stadium, and up to our 300-level seats, most of the first quarter had already passed.

And I wouldn’t say we were missing it, Bob!

Oregon put together what sounded like a pretty impressive opening-game drive:  15 plays, 62 yards, which resulted in a field goal.  That 3-0 lead (followed by a missed field goal on Washington’s opening drive) would be the high point of Oregon’s day, as the Huskies put up 38-unanswered to make this one a laugher.

The Ducks managed 278 yards of offense, only 31 through the air.  Sure, they were able to open up some holes here and there, but their quarterback wasn’t up to the task of making this game even remotely interesting.

My only real concern in this one was how the Husky offense looked.  The running game was there, naturally.  A total of 247 yards on 39 carries.  Both Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed had terrific games, going for 123 yards and a TD, and 84 yards and a TD respectively.  Dante Pettis got his, with 4 catches for 87 yards and a TD, as well as his 9th career punt return for a touchdown to set an NCAA record.  And, even Jake Browning had a quietly efficient game, going 11/19 for 204 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT.  Again, though, when you win a game by five touchdowns, you don’t really need to do a whole lot as a quarterback.

So, yeah, the offense was fine.  Couldn’t quite get into the 40s, but I’m not going to harp on it too much.

What we should all be talking about is how amazing this defense is, because fuckin’ A is it the best!

  • #1 in total yards with 2,168 (Alabama is #2 with 2,194)
  • #1 in yards per game with 241 (Alabama is #2 with 244)
  • #3 in total passing yards with 1,348 (Michigan is #1 with 1,285)
  • #2 in passing yards per game with 149.8 (Michigan is #1 with 142.8)
  • #6 in total rushing yards with 820 (TCU is #1 with 627)
  • #6 in rushing yards per game with 91.1 (TCU is #1 with 69.7)
  • #2 in points allowed with 100 (Alabama is #1 with 88)
  • #2 in points per game with 11.1 (Alabama is #1 with 9.8)

It’s just unbelievable!  We lose guys to the NFL/graduation, we lose even more guys to injury, and here we are still kicking ass and taking names.  Granted, Oregon isn’t anything special, and they do tend to shut down if you put a good defense in front of them, but that’s still a team capable of piling up yards and points with the best of ’em when they’re on.

With Stanford losing to Wazzu, that gives Washington a full game edge in the Pac-12 North.  Of course, we would lose that edge if we lose to either of those two teams (who we play in the next three weeks; at Stanford this Friday & vs. Wazzu the Saturday after Thanksgiving), but we’re right there in the driver’s seat.  With USC beating Arizona, all they have to do is avoid catastrophe when they go up against the dregs of the Pac-12 South (Colorado and UCLA) the next two weeks and they’ll be right there waiting for us in the Pac-12 Championship Game (with a BYE week in between, no less).

In the grander scheme of things, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, and Penn State all lost.  The Huskies are now 9th in the AP Poll and 8th in the Coaches Poll.  I don’t know what that means for the College Football Playoff poll, but I see that TCU is going up against Oklahoma this weekend, as well as Miami going up against Notre Dame.  So, if we take care of business, that’s two more teams (at least) we figure to leapfrog.

I’ll admit, though, I’m pretty nervous about this Stanford game.  It’s our final road game of the regular season, it’s on a Friday night (where kooky things tend to happen), and we haven’t won a game in Stanford since 2007 (Jim Harbaugh’s first year with the Cardinal, when they finished 4-8).  Believe you me, I’m going to be pretty keyed up for this one.

After that, it looks like pretty smooth sailing.  Utah is a mess this year, and Wazzu doesn’t look NEARLY as good away from Martin Stadium.

One more hurdle.  Let’s go Dawgs!