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The good, the bad, and the unknown: Arizona State

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The good, the bad, and the unknown of Washington’s win over Arizona State.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Run defense - That was the best the Husky run defense has looked since their absolute shutdown of Stanford. Arizona State isn’t a good team overall, but they have two really good, big backs in Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard and a quarterback who can run (Manny Wilkins). The Husky defense held them to 15 yards net.

Finally...pressure - The Huskies clearly scrapped the commitment to getting pressure with the front 3-4 and found creative ways to pressure Wilkins with blitzes, some coming from the secondary. The strategy worked very well, especially when Budda Baker crashed the backfield. The Husky defenders also did a much better job of finishing the job when they got there this week.

Budda Baker - Baker’s impact can be hard to notice sometimes, because his impressive range keeps teams from passing in his direction and because the Husky front seven doesn’t let too many rushers through. His impact was impossible to miss against Arizona State. I have a feeling knowing that Baker might be coming off a blitz is going to affect opposing quarterbacks for the rest of the season.

Kevin King interception - King’s ridiculous one-handed interception wasn’t just one of the best plays you will ever see. It really helped swing the game when the Huskies were starting slowly on offense.

Myles Gaskin - He wasn’t getting a ton of help from his line, but Gaskin got back to his usual game with 127 yards on just 16 carries and a long touchdown run.

Breaking the Arizona State streak - The confounding Arizona State streak is finally over. Scratch off another frustrating streak put to an end by the Petersen regime. Now let’s go for at UCLA, at Arizona State, and Oregon in Seattle next year.

10 wins - The 10-win milestone has kind of unfairly been forgotten because of how the stakes have been raised, but it needs to be remembered that this is the first time the Huskies have won 10 games since 2000. Also, going into the season, I thought 10 wins was a realistic goal that would be a huge success, so this was a big win.

The Bad

Browning’s start - It was a rough, rough start for Browning as he threw two picks (though one wasn’t his fault), missed passes, looked frustrated, and was simply off. He bounced back and filled up the stat sheet, but the start of the game looked like the fifth quarter of the USC game for Browning and it helped keep Arizona State in the game.

Offensive line - They got better as the game went on, but the offensive line still looked rough. They struggled in pass contain, didn’t open up many holes in the run game (though keep in mind Arizona State has a strangely good run defense), and just never seemed to find a rhythm all game.

The Unknown

Jake Browning? Browning recovered with some big numbers on Saturday, but that was against a historically bad Arizona State pass defense. Even then, he still didn’t look like he did prior to the Utah game. Something seems to be off about Browning. Don’t know if he is hurt, or pressure has gotten into his head, or he is just having some sophomore jitters, or if perhaps the whole offense got out of rhythm, but Browning isn’t quite the player he was in the first half of the season.

Also, Browning talks a lot to the officials and never seems to get roughing the passer calls, almost ever. I am wondering if Pac-12 officials are not a fan of Browning and it hurts him with getting those calls.

Offensive line? The offensive line still looks to be in a funk. Is this coming from the unit being more banged up later in the season? Or opponents figuring out a way to attack them? Can the offensive line bounce back and put together a good game in the Apple Cup?

Pressure found? The Huskies had really struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks in recent weeks, but had a breakthrough against Arizona State when they opened up the floodgates with blitzing. Have the Huskies found a solution for getting pressure on the quarterback, and will it matter against Luke Falk who gets rid of the ball very quickly? Will they apply the same strategy?

Washington State? This is definitely the toughest Cougar team the Huskies have faced since 2003, but exactly how good they are still seems like a bit of a mystery. The Cougars are 7-1 in Pac-12 play, but just lost by two scores to Colorado and haven’t played the majority of the top teams in the Pac-12 (USC, Utah, Washington). Are the Cougars a borderline elite team (as their record suggests) or are they just a pretty good Pac-12 team that has gotten breaks in the schedule? I guess we will find out Friday.

Playoff? It still seems like the Huskies have a great shot at controlling their own destiny, but I am a little concerned with the situation which could end up with two Big Ten teams getting in, Alabama and Clemson getting in, and a one-loss Husky team getting shut out. My advice to myself and Husky fans would be not to think about it. Worst case scenario in that situation: the Huskies go to the Rose Bowl. There is nothing we can do about the frustrations of the Playoff setup.

Darren Gardenhire? The veteran cornerback unexpectedly announced he is leaving the program Monday and it is unclear if he is even playing in the Apple Cup. We will see Gardenhire in a game where I expect a lot of defensive backs to play, or is he already gone?