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Instant Reaction: Washington Huskies Fall Hard to the Stanford Cardinal

Chris Petersen will soon talk openly about how the "kids played hard" when he addresses the media following yet another beat down at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.

There wasn't nearly enough of this in UW's loss to Stanford on Sat Night.
There wasn't nearly enough of this in UW's loss to Stanford on Sat Night.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Getting physically battered by the Stanford Cardinal is something of a modern tradition for the Washington Huskies.  Saturday night was, therefore, an honorable attempt at sustaining the customary beat down as UW was beaten 31-14 by Stanford on Saturday night

The Huskies came into the game as big underdogs to the #10 Stanford Cardinal and, not surprisingly, showed why from the opening kickoff.  The young Huskies squad was beaten in just about every manner that a football team can be beaten, despite putting up a pretty scrappy effort all things considered.

Here are some Dots for you to chew on as we digest yet another loss.

Instant Dots

  • Big picture:  this was a classic, dominating Stanford win.  They didn't get many chunk plays to speak of, but they just moved the ball and forced punts all night long.  Stanford ran 72 plays to UW's 45 for the night.

  • We talked before the game about how important it was to hold Stanford under 40 rushes.  They ran the ball 49 times to 24 passes.

  • Your UW offense is averaging 19 points a game for the season against FBS competition.  For the 12th time in the Petersen regime, UW failed to pass the 26 point mark.  The next worst team in that regard over the same time period is Oregon State with 8 such games.

  • Stanford's O-Line set the tone in the first quarter by controlling the ball for 10:22.  UW did a nice job containing the big plays for the most part, but they simply couldn't get Stanford off the field.  That's the sign of a strong offensive line performance.

  • Third down was another key story of the game.  UW was 4 for 11 and didn't convert their first third down until the third quarter.  On the flip side, UW was just ok holding Stanford to 6 of 13.

  • Turnovers are becoming an issue, as in "not enough generated".  UW has only taken the ball away once in the last two games.

  • How is this for an indignity?  Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey had more yards (92) in the 1H than the entire Huskies offense (58).  For the game, UW managed to outgain McCaffrey 231 to 221.

  • Despite McCaffrey's huge day, UW did not surrender a single running play longer than 20 yds - something that they've only done three times all year.  They are still the only team in the PAC to not surrender a run longer than 30 yards.
  • UW Fans have gotten used to weird player rotations, but UW's D opened up without guys like Travis Feeney, Joe Mathis and Keishawn Bierria on the field.  Mathis has been dinged up, but the other two guys may have been discipline-related as they showed up later in the first quarter.

  • Speaking of that D, they were really pretty good tonight even if the numbers don't totally show it.  They gave up a lot of yards on broken plays thanks to Kevin Hogan's legs.  However, they were active most of the night, played tough run D, and were able to generate a pass rush against that big Stanford offensive line.  They were hung out to dry by that putrid Husky offense and they paid the price on QB keepers, screens and passes to running backs.

  • Myles Gaskin is pretty much the only playmaker doing anything in the UW offense right now.  He had a huge night with 108 yards rushing while the offensive line seems to be holding blocks well enough for Gaskin to probe holes, which is nice progress.  Gaskin has now had three straight 100 yard rushing games (four for the season) and has averaged nearly 7 yards per carry over the last three.

  • KJCS comported himself fairly well for his first start.  His numbers sucked, but he made good decisions most of the night and, aside from several tipped passes, didn't do much to hurt the team.  I would have liked to see him have done more in holding the ball in zone-read, but I don't blame him for erring on the side of handing off to Myles Gaskin.

  • UW's first possession in the 2nd quarter is a great example of why fans are so tired of the Jonathan Smith clown show.  Down by 14 with a gassed D and with a first-time QB in the game, JSmith calls play-action on the first pass (incomplete), a slant on the send (incomplete) and a desperate post (incomplete) that ate up 36 seconds.  Two series later, Smith passes twice starting with a 2nd and 2 play.  The only chance UW had in this game was to shorten the game and wear out the shallow Stanford D-Line.  Smith seems to have zero sense of rhythm or strategy when he calls plays.

  • If you want an example of good offensive coordinating, check out Stanford's third quarter TD drive.  Not only did they convert a critical fourth and 1 on their side of the 50 (odds in their favor), but they attacked the UW D just after the Kevin King injury by shifting Christian McCaffrey into an h-back role and throwing a TD pass to him.  #coaching.

  • The silver lining here is that Chris Petersen may be losing his patience with the offensive situation.  Check out his halftime interview and note the barely contained seething frustration

  • Let's not lose sight of the fact that Stanford is really, really good and we are barely a viable bowl worthy team.  In that context, this game wasn't a flat out embarrassment.

  • Thanks to the upset at USC - which looks a lot better now that the Trojans have knocked off Utah - UW is pretty much where this editorial staff mostly thought they'd be with regard to the pursuit of bowl eligibility.  Next week's game against Arizona isn't technically a "must-win", but in practicality it is.  UW won't face a weaker defense the rest of the season.

  • Chris Petersen has lost 22 games in his career.  10 of them as a Husky.  The hand-picked Jonathan Smith is 11-10 in his role as an OC at the FBS level.

There will be more to come on yet another frustrating loss in the days to come.  In the meantime, there are four  things that you can be sure of:

1.  Chris Petersen will talk about how hard the kids played

2.  Jonathan Smith will still be our offensive coordinator next weekend

3.  Nobody is going to approach the issue of offensive coaches doing their jobs (I'm talking about Brent Pease, Jordan Paopao and Smith)

3.  Our odds of reaching bowl eligibility (is that really the goal???) will be lower tomorrow than they were at the start of today

Sleep well, Dawgs.