Featured Fanpost: Huskies vs Hawaii - Revisited

Yesterday's win by the Huskies over the Rainbow Warriors was a grind. - Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

I must be a glutton for punishment. I decided this morning after my nerves calmed down a little bit to re-watch last night’s game. There were a few things that I decided I was going to focus on. The three groups I focused on were the D-line, Linebackers and O-line. I am not going to talk about Lindquist or the corners because I think most of us are pretty aware of what we saw. It was very difficult stomaching every single play again, but knowing the end results made it a little bit easier. This article is just my personal observations and I am sure many of you will differ in your opinions. There were some bright spots trickled among the garbage.

DL – I have said it before and I will say it again, without Danny Shelton the D-line would be in trouble. He was double teamed consistently, but was giving up very little ground. When a player is double teamed and is not getting pushed backwards it is a success. Shelton accomplished this pretty consistently throughout the game. He also led the teams in sacks and tackles for loss. He finished the game with 12 tackles which is impressive for a NT. Kikaha was solid, but not great. He was doubled often so his numbers aren’t going to pop out at you. But if you have to double a defensive end/linebacker then that leaves the door open for everyone else. Andrew Hudson was very active as he ended the game with 9 tackles, 8 of which were solo. The rest of the line was pretty meh. I didn’t notice E. Hudson at all, and in fact his backup Tupou had 6 tackles to Hudson’s 3. But neither really stood out to me and were basically just bodies out there. Qualls flashed at times and looks like he can contribute as an interior pass rusher, but when double teamed he was pushed off the line pretty easily.

What gives me pause for concern is that the line of scrimmage was almost always neutral throughout the game. The defense wasn’t getting blown off the ball much, but they also were not pushing the opposing offensive line backwards with any consistency. After re-watching the game I think that the run numbers would have been much better if the opposing RB was not 240+ lbs. He was a load and was running through some of the tackles and dragging players. They were able to put pressure on the QB which is what we expected, so if the corners don’t play so soft I think we could have seen more sacks and incompletion due to pressure.

LB – This was a very frustrating group to watch. Petersen after the game stated that the defense was playing on its heels and it really showed with the linebacker group. As I stated above the line wasn’t being pushed around which means it is up to the linebackers to shoot and plug the gaps. They looked tentative and slow. The one exception being Feeney. Although his stat line was not big he was very aggressive and I consistently saw him flying to the ball. I noticed on plays that were run to the opposite side he was there for cleanup duty. Timu was very average and didn’t look as instinctual or aggressive as he has been in the past. He did step it up a little bit in the second half though. The goat of this group was Shaq. He rarely flashed across the screen, didn’t disengage blockers and showed no instinct on almost any plays. Shaq, Littelton and Bierria looked very passive on the field. As far as Shaq goes, I am hoping the D-coordinator is saving up blitzes and plays for him in more important games. He just looked so passive to me. Cort Dennison is an example of a guy who didn’t have the athleticism, but was instinctual and was always sticking his nose in the play. This group did not seem to have that same type of tenacity last night. If you didn’t know going into the game which linebacker group was the talented and hyped one, you may have thought it was Hawaii. They were very aggressive, shooting through the gaps and playing with heart all game. The good news is that tackling was not the issue it was more of being the aggressor and delivering the first blow.

OL – The O-line was not where we want them to be, but this game was by no means like the ASU game last year. The left side of the line was relatively solid in the game. They were not perfect by any means, but Lindquist was not getting too much pressure from the blind side. Most of the pressure was coming from the right side. Atoe was really the main culprit in my opinion. He looked slow and lunged at the defender too often. At his size if he is not balanced he will be burned and burned often. I really feel like he is too large, but obviously the coaching staff isn’t concerned because his weight has gone up and not down. Hawaii was blitzing a lot and from all different areas and they were really testing the communication skills of the line. Lindquist was sacked only once but was hit 8 times. They have a few weeks to sort this out, but they need to shore up the protection before we play Stanford.

As far as the running game, much like our defense they weren’t getting pushed back but they also weren’t getting much push forward. Also, very consistently at least one of Hawaii’s defenders were in the backfield. This group is capable of run blocking so I am mostly going to chalk this up to first game issues with a new coaching staff. I expect this to get cleaned up.

This game did not go the way that most of us thought it would, but I think it was the perfect type of adversity that this team needed. I expect them to clean up a lot of issues and to come out a lot more aggressive and a lot stronger next week. I also tend to believe that Hawaii is a much improved squad. They play Oregon St. next week so we will probably get a better understanding of them and ourselves after next week’s game. Plus, we will have a better QB next week which will really help the offense. We were lucky to win, but Hawaii also had a lot of luck after revisiting the game. A win is a win and in a few weeks if we clean things up we won’t even be talking about this game. Go Dawgs and Woof.