Washington opened up their 2015 home football schedule with a contest against California State University at Sacramento, more commonly known as Sac State. The Huskies came into the night as a heavy favorite despite the notorious record that the Hornets have in challenging Pac 12 opponents and the fact that Washington's offense showed so poorly in Week 1. As it turned, out, the spread wasn't enough. UW freshmen shined in their matchup against their FCS foe as the Huskies cruised to a 49-0 shutout win.
Showing a sensitivity to the fact that his offense was unable to get any kind of threat in the middle field open a week ago, Browning opened with a 21 yard rope over the middle to Jaydon Mickens on the Huskies opening drive. But the offense stalled quickly on a failed fourth down conversion as the Huskies went back to the vanilla run game and the horizontal pass game that has frustrated fans while Jonathan Smith has been offensive coordinator.
On the flip side, Sac State struggled to move the ball but showed a proclivity for converting long third downs throughout the first quarter. Their first two offensive series resulted into marches into UW's territory. But a missed field goal and a failed fourth down conversion (thanks to a great stay-at-home tackle by CB Kevin King) kept the Hornets off the board as the first quarter concluded with neither team scoring.
UW started to get the game more in hand during their second drive of the game, which spanned the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter. RB Myles Gaskin was featured on that drive to the tune of 50 yards and his first career TD. He showed great bounce in both hitting holes and breaking initial contact with a defender. He was most effective working the left side of the line, which included a cut back to the left on a two yard gain for UW's first offensive TD of the season.
From that point forward, Gaskin would become the story of the game. The Huskies kept rotating RBs into the game, but it was Gaskin who was the best at compensating for the ongoing struggles that the Huskies offensive line and tight ends had in run blocking, including a key 4th down conversion that turned into a 16 yard breakaway TD in the second quarter. The Huskies offense then went on a streak of 49 unanswered points. The offense seemed to find its footing in the rushing attack, though much of that is attributable to athletic superiority more so than technical execution.
Defensively, the Huskies were stout. The third down woes that the Huskies suffered early in the game seemed tied to assignment errors and dissipated as the game wore on. In fact, the Huskies allowed just 102 total yards to the Hornets in the first half even accounting for a few long third down passes completed on the Huskies secondary in the first quarter. The Huskies, who have a 6 quarter scoreless streak now in place, will likely start popping up on "top 10" lists in a lot of defensive statistical categories this week.
The Huskies will go into next week's matchup against Utah State holding on to some positive momentum but still needing to get some details worked out.
Some game dots:
- Browning's 13.6 YPA for the day was no joke, no matter who the opponent is. UW fans have to be very encouraged to see that kind of stat line.
- Schematically, UW showed far fewer shifts and motions than they did a week ago. Seems they were trying to either simplify things or not put a lot more of the offense on tape.
- The end of the first half included another impressive two-minute drill orchestrated by Jake Browning that resulted in a Dwayne Washington TD. That drive spanned 90 yards in a minute and featured beautiful utilization of tight ends running the inside seam. Jake seems to feel very comfortable at that tempo where his excellent vision is a significant advantage. The coaching staff really needs to consider using that tempo more frequently throughout the game as part of their general offensive strategy.
- The tunnel and bubble screens are still failing at an epic rate. Not only are the receivers unable to block for them, but it is clear that every team we play is ready for them. I get that they are an extension of the run game, but they won't start working until the actual rushing attack shows a bit more bite. Not surprisingly, UW mostly abandoned them after the anemic first quarter.
- Browning had a decent game. His lack of mobility is an issue, but he does show good footwork in the pocket and his throwing accuracy while on the run is fantastic. He also has the fastest release that I've seen out of a UW QB since Pickett.
- The first TD pass of Browning's career happened in the third quarter, but it was almost an interception. The Huskies had multiple open receivers on the play, but Browning chose to throw to Marvin Hall running the right seam. He underthrew his receiver, but the ball deflected off of the covering safety right into Hall's arms. The Legion of Zoom member would not be caught as he sprinted into the end zone for a 78 yard TD.
- Is it just me or does Chico McClatcher remind you a lot of former Oregon State WR James Rodgers. Not only are the builds similar, but UW seems very interested in featuring him with the fly sweep - a play that was really not shown much in last year's playbook.
- A lot was made in the offseason about Keith Bhonapha coaching his guys up on the "jump cut". To date, Myles Gaskin is the only player I've seen actually perform it in a live play.
- Gaskin's emergence has a lot of fans buzzing about Dwayne Washington "losing his job". But Washington continues to shine in both protection and as a receiver. His pure speed was also on full display on his second quarter TD run. These factors will keep him on the field a lot once Pac 12 play begins.
- Somebody throw some ice on Tristain Vizcaino. That man is booming kickoffs every chance he gets.
- Brian Clay was in the middle of a lot of long third down conversions. He seems to be struggling with his pass coverage assignments, though he continued to flash strong in run support
- Sticking with the defensive backs, it looks like Kevin King is turning into a feast or famine type of player. His height and leaping ability were on full display on his spectacular 2nd quarter interception and a nice reminder of what a tall corner can do to disrupt the opponent's passing game.
- Who says UW doesn't have a fullback? DT Taniela Tupou made an appearance at FB in UW's goal line offense and was a factor on Gaskin's TD run.
- Both Jeff Lindquist and KJ Carta-Samuels got into the game. KJCS took some reps at QB while Lindquist continued in his role as a blocker on the punt team. This would seem to indicate that KJCS is #2 on the depth chart, no matter what packages get put into place for Lindquist going forward.
- Wondering what young players got in the game? Basically everybody. I thought Vita Vea, Ben Burr-Kirven, Connor O'Brien, Jomon Dotson, JoJo McIntosh and Kaleb McGary all flashed.
- Two games in, no pooch punts yet. That sound you are hearing are the cries of misery emanating from Howling Husky's abode on San Juan Island.
Jake Browning's first career TD pass - 78 yards to Marvin Hall
Dwayne Washington's 11 yard TD run
Myles Gaskin's 78 yard TD run