As I awoke from the stupor brought on by this bore of a football game it dawned on me: well, nothing dawned on me actually other than "What the heck happened?"
The game started promising enough, with Keith Price leading the Dawgs to a field goal on the first possession of the game. The drive was dominated by pass plays, with a pass play being called on 11 plays compared to two runs. Points, so whatever since we started at the ten yard line. Touchdown was allowed after that, then things never looked up from there.
Washington's offensive line seemed to block the front three of Arizona's 3-3-5 stack defense well enough. That defense relies on pressure from the back eight, and they got it. The line had trouble picking up on blitzes and blocking who was coming hot and who was dropping back on pass plays. Part of this goes on fifth-year senior center Drew Schaefer, but more on the difficulties pass-blocking later.
The receivers struggled to get separation in the short game. Washington's offense obviously relies on short passing and screens to get most of the yards through the air, which helps to hide deficiencies among the offensive line. Price took a number of three and five-step dropbacks only to have nobody to thrown to. Austin Seferian-Jenkins getting hurt early on the game didn't help, but Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens struggled to get separation and get open on the outside.
Delayed blitzes are very difficult for the offensive line to block. They typically end up as the responsibility of running backs assigned to block. If there is no back staying in to block -this is frequently the case in Sarkisian's offense- the quarterback needs to get rid of the ball right away.
Deep passes were all on Price. There were two early throws where Williams got behind the defense only for Price to overthrown him by a long margin. These plays Price had time and just missed his man. On one of the plays Williams had his feet tangled in incidental contact and it would not have mattered, but regardless they are passes that have to be made. Price also missed Cody Bruns deep later in the game as well.
Kendyl Taylor and Bishop Sankey both looked good running the ball, showing decisiveness and burst through the hole. Sankey showed some power as well. It was obvious that the gameplan was to have Price throw quite a bit in order to keep up with the Arizona offense, but with the obvious success on the ground Steve Sarkisian should have looked to run the ball more often.
Spread offenses have given the Huskies trouble this season. Oregon and Arizona have the two best offenses in the Pac-12, but considering the success Washington has had against good (not great) Stanford and USC offenses Justin Wilcox's defense should do a better job against elite offenses. Maybe it is the spread, or maybe it is just a lack of elite personnel on the front seven. Travis Feeney has shown flashes of brilliance. John Timu has shown flashes of NFL-talent. Thomas Tutogi has had great games. Danny Shelton, Josh Shirley, Princeton Fuimaono, Josh Banks. All flashes of great ability, but they altogether aren't elite yet. The key word is yet. The defense (whole team) is young and inexperienced.
Desmond Trufant was beaten by several perfect throws but altogether had himself a strong game. There were obviously the double moves that Marcus Peters and Sean Parker fell for that hurt the passing numbers. Altogether the secondary had a better game than the front seven. That really says almost nothing.
What seemed to be an issue was that linebackers were not in position in their gaps. In replays from end zone camera views it seemed that Timu was out of position frequently. The defense did have too few men in the box to stuff the running attack obviously, as six men in the box will never do the job against a running back like Da'Keem Carey. Carey is a very good back similar in mold to Chris Polk, our War Daddy.
I need to wash this taste from my mouth. Glad it is over.