Washington Outlasts Fight With Fighting Illini: Instant Reactions

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Champaign Room

It was not the absolute blowout that many UW fans called, but the Washington Huskies were the better team on this Saturday afternoon (evening in Illinois). UW looked like the more talented team that overcame mental mistakes to defeat the Illinois Fightin Illini 34-24.

The best player on the field ran for 208 yards and caught three passes for another 63 yards in another ho-hum game. Who am I kidding? Bishop Sankey is an absolute beast. His jump-cut in the backfield to avoid defenders and blockers is one of the best in the nation. As a Seattle Seahawks fan, certain parts of his game remind me of Shaun Alexander. Not the run-out-of-bounds-avoid-all-contact part. The ability to bait defenders into his blockers; he grasps every inch of field that his blockers give him. Then he avoids going down easily. Sorry, Illinois game.

Look at the total yardage: 615-327. Washington was better.

Now, in the first half Washington caught two very lucky breaks. Illinois dropped two sure touchdowns that turned 14 points into three. Scheelhaase was on-point on most of his deep throws, including his 70+ yard touchdown throw. Washington caught several breaks on the field.

Some Dots:

  • Penalties really plagued Washington. While the yellow flag didn't bother the Dawgs too much against Boise St., the B1G officials weren't going to let any ticky-tack calls go unwhistled. 11 penalties for 102 yards. Ouch.
  • I want to reiterate that Bishop Sankey is the best player on the UW roster.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins didn't do all that much. Three catches for nine yards. He was bracketed for a lot of the game, and it opened things up for Kevin Smith on the outside, who was the game's leading receiver with five catches for 105 yards.
  • For those of you who have been following my Defining the Defense series and are interested, Washington ran a lot of 2-gap line techniques when there was the threat of a run. Against long-yardage and empty sets, they almost always used 1-gap techniques in order to be able to shoot the gaps and get to the QB. The run defense was solid if unspectacular, allowing 3.7 yards per carry when all sacks are taken into account. Actually, that is pretty darn good.
  • I will admit that I am not a big Josh Shirley fan, but he is a very high motor pass rusher. When the back seven force a coverage sack, he is usually the beneficiary. He never gives up. Speaking of Rush Ends, Hau'oli Kikaha was moved inside a lot during the first half. I don't know what the idea was behind it, but it was just something I noticed. Washington as a whole got after the passer very well.
  • Keith Price had himself a quiet very good game. He threw for lots of yards, but many of them came after the catch. Regardless, he was poised, accurate, and made good decisions with the football.
  • Miscellaneous notes: Shaq Thompson struggled tackling. Kevin Smith should have redshirted to recover from his ACL tear, I wish we would have him another year. Connor Cree basically took over Evan Hudson's spot on the defense in the second half. Hudson wasn't blown back, but he really struggled shedding single blocks.

What are your Instant Reactions?

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