Darin leads:p> Ah! That was more like it.
It was nice to see the Dawgs come out and play a complete game against what I think was a decent team. Better than Cal and Colorado, anyway. As Brock Huard helpfully pointed out, the Beavers are reeling, so it wasn’t quite like beating – oh, I don’t know – UCLA or Arizona State. But it was a win over a team worth beating.
Let’s talk about the things that could have gone wrong but didn’t.
Pass protection. Oregon State has been able to create pressure in the past, but not on Saturday. I thought the offensive line made a good effort, but more surprisingly, I thought that Master Cyler Miles did a very good job of getting rid of the ball timely. As Brock Huard also helpfully pointed out, Miles throws with anticipation. He didn’t sit there looking for open receivers. That’s not something you’d necessarily expect from a young quarterback making his first start.
Pass rush. I could easily have imagined Mannion sitting back there all day. But it didn’t happen that way. The Dawgs sacked him three times, and I thought the pressure was relevant even when they didn’t get him.
Cooper’s knee. Could have blown out. Again. Didn’t. Somebody posted a highlight clip of him from high school. Very tough to judge, but it looks to me like he may not quite have the top gear, but he did appear to have that same “wooshy,” swerving style. He’s a very esthetically pleasing runner. He’s jazz to Sankey’s soul.
Washington didn’t fumble. I believe he’s our guy in the future, although nobody’s paying me for that opinion. (Speaking of which, when should I expect my check from uwdawgpound.com?)
Pass defense breakdowns. None that mattered – although there was some sloppy tackling on a couple plays that could have hurt us.
There was a comment from Oregon State’s defensive coordinator that I thought was interesting relative to our earlier conversation about play calling. He said that Sarkisian is unpredictable. If I were calling plays, I would take that as very, very high praise. Play calling should be random, within a given family of plays for a given situation. Furthermore, the family of possible plays should be as large as possible without anything ridiculous. E.g., no “God’s Play” on third an 18.
I saw Shane Brostek play quite a bit. I admit I don’t have the expertise to make this judgment, but I don’t know why he’s not starting. He makes the blocks. And he can run. He traps and pulls better than anybody else we’ve got (I think). Maybe it’s pass blocking – which he doesn’t have to do much of when he does see action.
Be honest. If I’d offered you 50:1 odds to bet on Arizona last week against Oregon, would you have done it? That was a shocking upset. I know, I know, we are all telling ourselves stories about how obvious it was that Oregon was primed for a let-down, but none of it is true. The spread was 20.5, which is off the charts for odds conversion. This was what they call in the business an "unexpected event."
It looks like my Sun Devil Rule is about to be put to the test. ASU plays Arizona, then Stanford, then a bowl game. How many of those games do they have to lose for me to be able to claim the rule (that the Sun Devils disappoint every year) is still in effect? If I’m honest, as long as they don’t lose to the Wildcats I’m in trouble.
Go look at the Sagarin ratings. They are interesting. Washington is ranked 16th by the DIMIN_CURVE method, which I am tentatively adopting as my new favorite after careful reflection. The Pac-12 South and North are the first- and second-best conferences, respectively. The schedules are absolutely brutal.
I can’t explain why, but I’m having a hard time settling into Apple Cup week. I know in my head we’re playing the team my six-year-old refers to somewhat redundantly as “the stupid Cougars,” but I’m not really feeling the hate just yet. Maybe I’m getting old. The Moneyline average is about 500 (i.e., 80-85 percent chance of a Husky win). That seems about right to me. Surprise, I know.
Brad Takes Over:
Yep. Feels a lot better than the alternative. I actually had saw an omen on Friday night before the game. I was taking Timber for a walk in the woods. As we came up on a little lake, he suddenly took off. I heard a little splash, followed by a much bigger one. Then a “slap, slap, slap!” on the water. In the light of my head lamp, I saw Timber swimming out after a beaver. The only way it could’ve been more clear is if Timber had come back with the still-struggling beaver in his jaws, but the takeaway was the same – the Dawg had chased the Beaver back to its home. Blowout, Huskies.
I agree about Miles’ anticipation. He sees things very quickly. And he absolutely has to, because he isn’t able to gun the ball in there if he makes a late read. His mind compensates for his arm, which is a good thing. Over the course of a season, though, my fear is that he’s going to make enough late reads to put the ball up in a position to get intercepted. It just happens when you have 300+ attempts, with lots of those coming against defenses far better than Oregon State’s. Did you notice how much effort it looked like he had to put into those couple of deep shots he took? Yikes. That wind-up really sucks his ability to get velocity on the ball away. I’d like to see what dimension his legs will open up for the passing game, and for the running backs. I think that’s the value he can really add. The thing is, there’s really no guarantee that he’s even the starter next year.
It’s tough to read too much into a game like that. The Huskies aren’t as good as they looked, and the Beavers aren’t that bad. But those types of games just happen sometimes. I thought the offensive line was fine, even if not dominant. Oregon State’s defensive scheme of spreading their line out the way they did certainly aided the Husky running game. I was pleased with the defensive line, as you mention. Kikaha and Littlejohn were both really active off the edges. Shelton was his usual space-clogging self, and Evan Hudson looked the part of a Pac 12 tackle most of the night.
How good is Marcus Peters? As Anthony Cassino pointed out, if he’d come into the season with the hype of some of the other corners in the league, and around the country, he’d be up for All-American consideration. He probably should be. He may very well be better than Desmond Trufant, right now.
I didn’t notice Brostek that much. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why he isn’t redshirting this season, since he hasn’t gotten a single meaningful snap. The stuff you mention about his athleticism – that’s exactly what this team needs on the line. Is it strength? Is it pass blocking, like you say? If it’s either of those, WHY ISN’T HE REDSHIRTING????!!!?!!?
That long TD by Washington – probably the two best stiff arms from any Husky running back this season. He looked to make contact. I really like the way he runs the ball. And I agree on Cooper – the shiftiness is mostly back, but the top gear is still missing. It’s barely been a year since the last injury, though. If he can stay healthy, he can be legit. Great story.
The Pac 12 is obscenely deep. Even with 9 conference games, 9 teams are bowl eligible. One of those that isn’t, Utah, played everybody in the conference as tough as any team out there. The conference is on the rise, and it’s not going to get any easier for Washington to break through. Maybe Stanford and Oregon take a small step back to earth next year, but there are a lot of teams ready to fill the void.
I’m mostly with you on the Apple Cup. With each passing day, I get a little more excited, but I really just want to get through it.
Just to bring everybody up to speed, Timber is Brad's stunted conjoined-twin half-brother from a previous marriage. He's a real spark plug. I'll leave it to your imagination to figure out who beaver is, but let's just say it's not all sweetness and light in Brad's house these days.
Hey, how many Cougars does it take to screw up a light bulb? Wait a minute, I told it wrong. Here, I'm starting over. How come it takes three Cougars to screw up a light bulb? Because they're so darn stupid!
That's it. That's all I've got.
Ted Miller at ESPN always brings up the fact that the Pac-12 plays nine games, while other major conferences play fewer, giving themselves a nice break around mid-November. The downside of this in terms of Pac-12 teams surviving the season and getting into big bowl games is obvious. My questions are these.
What's your preferred solution? Everybody must play nine? No more counting non-Div 1 games toward bowl eligibility?
If the SEC will never agree to play a nine-game schedule (and why should they?), would you rather the Pac-12 switch to eight or stick with what they're doing?
For my part, I don't care much about the national championship. It's interesting, I suppose, after all the Pac-12 topics are exhausted, but there's just too much noise for me to take it very seriously. I recognize that we'll never go back to the good-old-days, but that won't stop me from dragging my feet every inch of the way. So I'd rather see more great Pac-12 games. I'd be happy if we played eleven games with one non-conference.
Can we stop pretending the Big East -- sorry, the American Athletic Conference -- belongs in among the automatic qualifiers? Using the Sagarin conference ratings, the Big East fits better with the population of "other" conferences, including such gauntlets as the Big Sky, Ivy League, and Conference USA, than it does with the other five AQ conferences. I did the math, actually, and this is literally true. The Big East has exactly one win over a top-30 team! And not even a single game against anyone in the top ten. That's the entire conference. Please.
I'd like to shrink the population of "teams that we're supposed to care about." Let's stop pretending Fresno State and Northern Illinois belong in the conversation with Alabama and Florida State. They don't. Even if they can beat those teams once in a while (e.g., Boise State).
Brad Wraps it Up:
Ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha.
My preferred solution is that everybody plays 9 conference games because the games against FCS schools don’t count. I get all the arguments here. But since we can’t make the SEC play 9 conference games, let’s at least try to dis-incentivize the games against the likes of Chattanooga in late November from a national title contender.
I’m totally on board with picking the best 60 or so teams and creating 4 or 5 uber-conferences. Where it gets dicey with you is how big the playoffs get, because once you do that, you absolutely have a playoff. To me, it’s 32 teams. The “number of games” bit is a bunch of malarkey. I know you disagree with the that, but I still can’t figure out why.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.