The Chris Petersen era got off to a really rocky start, with a 17-16 victory over Hawaii in a game that really shouldn't have been that close, or even close to that close. The Husky offense looked sluggish, and the defense didn't look all that great to begin the game either.
Beginning the game, Petersen's Huskies gave up a 40-yard kick return, foreshadowing a 10-play, 58-yard touchdown drive by Hawaii in which the Husky defense didn't look good at all. A Jaydon Mickens third-down drop on the ensuing Husky possession cost the team a probable first down, and after that Hawaii drove down the field, including one conversion on fourth down, until the Husky defense stiffened up in the red zone and forced a field goal try. 10-0 Rainbow Warriors.
Things did get better, for the remainder of the first half at least.
The Huskies scored the game's next 17 points to close out the first half half, aided by a missed 40-yard field goal at the end of the half. 14 of those points were the direct result of who might be the most explosive player in the entire Pac-12 this season: John Ross. His first touchdown came on a reverse, he made one man "miss" in the backfield by just outrunning him, and it was smooth sailing to the end zone.
Ross ran a 4.29 40-yard dash during the UW combine, and it was on display for his second touchdown of the game. Coming off of a play-action, Hawaii was caught with eyes in the backfield, and Ross made the defense pay. When the ball left Lindquist's hand, Ross was not yet even with the safety. When the pass hit Ross perfectly in stride, he was a full yard, maybe even two, ahead of the deep defenders of Hawaii. The dude can run. 17-10 at half.
The Husky defense stopped giving up easy yards after easy yards following the first several drives, and Hawaii found it much tougher to sustain drives. The problem was that Washington couldn't move the ball in the second half. Three-and-out after three-and-out after... I don't want to type that any more. Lindquist overthrows/misfires and runs for little gain were the name of the game for the offense in the second half. The defense did all the heavy lifting late.
If it seems like the second half isn't getting the same run in this recap as the first half, that's because the entire second half played out exactly like this tweet from Anthony:
If I have to write "punt" or "three and out" one more time in my recap I'm going to lose it.— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) August 31, 2014
The Instant Dots:
- To restate the obvious, John Ross is so, so explosive. From his first touch of the game, a 40-yard kick return, he made it apparent he is going to be a major factor in opposing gameplans. A 4.29 yard 40. He may have even run slow, judging by the unmatched speed he put on display.
- The gameplan offensively was to keep pass rush off Lindquist. He had very few straight drops, almost everything was a rollout, or play-action. Almost every time there was a dropback and a standard pocket, it was a vertical pass play. That he overthrew.
- The linebackers frequently looked out of position. John Timu often looked frustrated with the other members of his defense. A lot of the yards Hawaii gained early were in the intermediate passing game and on the ground, obviously big duties of linebackers. Shaq Thompson looked out of place in coverage at times. Marcus Peters didn't look like the All-American many of us believe he can be, though he wasn't bad by any means, and still was the best Husky not playing on the defensive line.
- The defensive line wasn't the problem. Actually, the defensive line looked like the strength of this team. Danny Shelton registered a sack, and Hau'oli Kikaha just couldn't be stopped. He very rarely allowed a tackle to get a hand on him, and exploded off the line before the tackles were able to kick-step, and at that point his superior hand-fighting skills were on display.
JoJo Mathis showed pass-rushing chops as well, providing interior pressure, one of the most impossible things to gameplan for. Mathis has the ability to rush the passer from anywhere on the line, this will be invaluable in opening up more opportunities for Kikaha to move all around the defense. The whole defensive line, including Andrew Hudson even, basically just balled out.
- Lindquist's bomb to Ross was beautiful, though almost every throw down the field following it was over the receiver's head. Even relatively easy passes were sailed. Yeah, he's got a big arm, and showed it off, but when you can't control it those overthrows will turn into interceptions sooner rather than later, and that will come into the equation when the time comes to name a started for week two.
I hate rash decisions, but Cyler Miles needs to be the quarterback next week. Lindquist just didn't show enough. If Lindquist is better than Troy Williams, then I don't want to see Williams. Though there were times when I thought it would be prudent to put in the redshirt freshman, because Lindquist just didn't take the job.
- I am excited to see the what the two-headed monster of Lavon Washington and Lavon Coleman can be. They both could potentially have fumble issues, as Coleman coughed the ball up, and Washington lost carries last season due to his butter fingers. Both are explosive, Coleman has a bit more thump while Washington has a bit more speed and agility, but both have decent vision. A large dose of Coleman at the end of the game finally did finish off Hawaii. Coleman's numbers looked a heck of a lot better though,19 carries for 94 yards versus 12 for 38.
- So, who takes the blame for this lame-duck performance? It is CP, his coaching staff, or just the players? I would have to guess the staff, but the blame comes back to Petersen if that is the case.
What are your instant reactions to the first game of the 2014 season?