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Washington Huskies Defeat Illinois Fighting Illini 44-19: Instant Reactions

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Huskies are a lot more banged up this year than they were last year. With Jermaine Kelly out, Ben Riva out, Marcus Peters suspended, and Josh Perkins not 100%, that's a lot of quality talent that they're missing from the field, and it undoubtedly hurts them as those guys are all starters when healthy.
  • John Ross needs to get the ball more. There's no reason not to get him multiple touches every quarter. He started the game with a 55 yard return, and UW's second drive was a 75 yard TD reception by him. The TD he housed which came back on a block in the back was a thing of beauty. He's easily the most explosive player the offense has at their disposal.
  • The defense after the first drive changed when one thing happened: Hau'oli Kikaha started rushing the passer more. These things are not coincidental.
  • Shaq Thompson is living up to his billing this season (finally). He disappeared a bit in the Hawaii game, played better against EWU, and probably earned Pac-12 DPOW after his play today -- including an INT for a TD and a fumble return for a TD. He's also been delivering some bone crushing hits. He good.
  • The quick kick needs to die. They've run it twice and both were touchbacks, and are averaging 17.5 per attempt. There's no upside to doing it, especially when you've got a 4th and manageable as they did in this game (3 yards to go). It's a bad decision from an expected value standpoint, which makes it the wrong decision. The field position gained will almost never be good enough to offset the points lost.
  • We saw some more downfield passing from Cyler Miles than we did last week, and he looked capable. He ran the 2 minute offense pretty well, finding open receivers and turning 0 points into 3 (thanks for the timeout, Tim Beckman). Still some issues with his delivery, including a ball that just fluttered and died in the second quarter when Jaydon Mickens was wide open, but get used to it, because we're probably going to be seeing those for the next three years.
  • This is more like the Husky team that we expected to see coming into the season. There's just too much talent on the roster to not blow some teams out this year, and though Illinois is on the lower end of the spectrum of teams UW will play talent-wise, they're probably comparable to teams like Colorado and Cal.
  • The secondary still cannot defend go routes. The corners don't jam enough and then the safeties don't provide any help over the top, which is a pretty deadly combo. It's something that needs to be addressed (and getting Marcus Peters back out there will help), as there are a few Pac-12 teams (read: Oregon) which will be more than happy to exploit that.
  • Dante Pettis has some really nice wiggle as a punt returner. It won't be a surprise at all to see him take one to the house at some point this year, but he's got to improve his ball security.
  • The Husky 4th quarter run game continues to impress. Now for three straight games the Husky offense has had a lead in the fourth quarter with everybody in the stadium knowing they're going to run the ball, and they've just crammed it down their opponent's throat.
  • Cameron Van Winkle looks every bit as good as any college kicker you're going to see this year. He's 5/5 on the year, and his 51 yarder today was the longest for UW since Erik Folk hit one from 53 in 2011. We'll see how he does when he has to take a kick that matters, but right now he looks every bit as good as Travis Coons did.