It's official, the offense is alive - My fears that Washington's offense only showed signs of life last week because of how bad Arizona's defense was were soothed by the Huskies putting up nearly 400 yards against the conference's best defense. It looks like the offense has a pulse again heading into the final quarter of the season.
Jake Browning - The main reason the offense finally is showing something is Browning's progression. He again looked like a brand new man coming off his injury as he put together his second-straight very good game. He would have thrown for well over 300 yards had he not gotten a lot of drops and had two bad calls wipe away big plays. His only mistake was one bad interception which he bounced back from. He even again showed some great mobility a couple of times.
Myles Gaskin - Gaskin had another quietly great game, making a lot of runs with his patience. 93 yards on 20 carries doesn't seem like much, but he was going against the conference's best run defense and would have cracked 100 yards and scored twice had the officials not decided to bust out a confounding holding call on an explosive touchdown run.
Dante Pettis - Another guy whose stats don't jump out at you, six receptions for 60 yards, but almost all of those catches and yards came on huge third downs where he made the grab when his fellow receivers were struggling to all night.
Greg Gaines & Taniela Tupou - These guys were huge with Elijah Qualls out again. They combined for 16 tackles and were the main reason Devontae Booker had just 4.4 yards per-carry. Plus Tupou made a huge play when he knocked the ball away from Booker for a crucial turnover.
Defensive backs - They didn't get too much work since the Utes got the lead early and avoided throwing down field too much, but the Husky DBs were on point pretty much every time Travis Wilson tried to go down field, including on a huge pick by Sidney Jones. Excellent performance, especially considering they lost Budda Baker early.
Cameron Van Winkle & Tristain Vizcaino - Van Winkle knocked down three of three huge kicks in the rain, with two from more than 40 yards out and Vizcaino stepped in beautifully for punting duties after Korey Durkee had his mishap.
Turnovers - It was the Cal game all over again as Dwayne Washington and Jake Browning gave up horrific fumbles, Browning threw a bad pick in bad territory and the opponent scored crucial points off it. This was a lot like the Cal game where the Huskies simply dropped the ball at the worst times.
Pac-12 refs - The Pac-12 crew got things cooking early with probably the worst offensive pass interference on a supposed pick play I have probably ever seen (especially considering what is allowed these days) and turned things up late in the game when it was really on the line. The crew bungled three horrible calls in-a-row, all against Washington's favor and all in spectacular fashion.
Pac-12 - This cannot keep happening. Especially considering, I feel that Washington's last three home losses have objectively been considered horribly officiated games that almost exclusively objectively did not go Washington's way.
Injuries - Coming in without Elijah Qualls really hurt, but losing Baker early and Trey Adams late really hurt the Huskies. Especially Adams, because his back-up was beaten badly just one play after he went down. Hopefully Baker and Adams are back as soon as possible.
Drops - The Husky receivers struggled to hang onto passes all night. It is simply very hard to win games like this in the Pac-12 if you seem to have a key drop on every drive. There can also be no excuses with the weather, Utah receivers weren't dropping the ball left and right.
Lack of pressure on defense - The Huskies pass rush that terrorized quarterbacks earlier in the season was noticeably absent Saturday. I assume they maybe didn't want to chase Wilson to just lead him to burning them with his feet, but either way it didn't work as the amount of time he had regularly allowed Utah to prolong drives and the Huskies finished with just one sack.
Defensive ends and linebackers - The ends and linebackers had by far their worst game of the season. It was especially strange considering they were playing the least dangerous offense they have seen all Pac-12 season, but they seemed to really struggle on the edges with the Utes. It was especially frustrating when they had to know Wilson options were coming at key moments, yet couldn't seem to make a play. Also, Azeem Victor dropped an easy pick six that would have been game-changing.
The defense when needed - The Husky defense has proven that they are one of the best in the Pac-12, but they really seem to struggle when the team really needs them to make a play in crunch time and get off the field. They were probably a little gassed, but they couldn't make a stand in the fourth quarter when just getting the offense the ball back without a score may have been enough to get the Huskies the win.
Korey Durkee's mishap - Yeah, I don't really know what to say about it, other than it was bad.
How good is Utah? Sometimes you come away from a loss thinking, okay, Washington lost, but that was a really good team that beat them... that was not the case Saturday. The Utes have a nice defense and a good ball control running back and I know that they have some injury problems right now, but they really don't look like a team that should be winning a Pac-12 division (and I like Utah as a team this year and historically as a program). But then again, neither did Arizona last year.
Officials? I don't know what Washington must have did to that crew. I know that the penalty stats were equal in the game, but they were not even close in magnitude. I know every fan thinks this, but this year has been the worst I can remember of it seeming the crews just can't give Washington a break.
Injury returns? When will Qualls, Baker and Adams be back?
Arizona State and the streak? Arizona State does not look very good, but they don't look much better or worse than the Huskies right now and they are maybe even a trickier opponent for the Huskies than Oregon in recent seasons. Can the Huskies break their nearly 15-year streak of never beating Arizona State and end their nearly 10-year drought of ever winning in the state of Arizona?
Two wins and a bowl? Can the Huskies go at least 2-1 down the stretch and preserve their bowl streak? It won't be easy, but all three remaining games are very winnable and getting to any bowl game this season given the youth of the program would be a strong statement by Chris Peteresen in my personal opinion. Can they do it?