Everyone for whom the first quarter was horrifically uncomfortable, raise your hand.
Perfect! Now do you understand how spoiled we are that a first quarter even being remotely close produces in Husky fans an off-brand anxiety whose single source of power is how unfamiliar we are with not kicking comprehensive ass the first 15 minutes of any given game in 2016? Sorry about that run-on sentence. Consider it my PSA for the week. The more you know.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to the things that matter.
A 100% Accurate and 38% Sober History of Absolutely Everything
While Gaskin had a bit of an off-night (but was still overall A-okay), the rushing attack was still solid Saturday. I mean, it helps when the final nail in the coffin is Lavon Coleman’s 49-yard touchdown run. Though in Cal’s case, maybe “final nail in the coffin” isn’t accurate; a better analogy might be “final artillery round to the face.”
Prior to Saturday I hypothesized that much of the Huskies’ offense would be predicated on Cal’s poor rushing defense. Like, really poor rushing defense. So when, of the 4937Y2K Washington touchdowns, only two of them came on the ground, it goes to show the evolution of this offense from a year ago. And more than the TD count, the ease with which the passing game moves the ball downfield is to me what’s the most telling. Why run four times in a row when in four seconds you can get 15 yards?
Compared to last year, when the run game was what held the offense up, I’ll take it.
Speaking of: Browning’s deep ball was a bit late a couple times early on, but John Ross gets so much space in between him and defenders that it barely mattered. Related, it feels weird talking about Jake’s deep passes having too much hang time, seeing as how only this summer everyone was complaining that he couldn’t stop overthrowing those.
To put that in perspective, in only the time it took for my four month-old nephew to grow teeth, Washington fans transformed from obtrusively bitchy to in love with Browning’s backyard-football-esque ability to heave a deep pass. Heck, he may even be as good as your drunk uncle on Thanksgiving whose game plan consists of, “My arm’s a cannon so just go long. Did you know I was a quarterback at Bellevue in the 70s? Hey, where’d my beer go?”
Against tougher defenses, however, it’ll be imperative that Browning takes advantage when he’s given the opportunity to drop a bomb into Ross’ hands in stride. Because for as much of a boss as Ross is, he won’t always be able to remedy too-much-hang-time via pulling stunts like this:
That in mind, the long-bomb game killed it on Saturday even with the couple of underthrows, which is a testament both to Browning’s growth since last year and to the route-running of Washington’s receiving corps.
And besides, I won’t get bored of a 34+yards-per-reception average by any receiver. So long as he’s on our team.
On the flip side, Sidney Jones won the matchup between Pac-12 Breakout WR/Rudy Story of the Season Chad Hansen most of the night. Count this as the part of the column where I get irked that Jones doesn’t get enough love outside the West Coast. I mean sure, as a dominant corner, QBs aren’t too eager to throw at him, so he doesn’t have overly eye-popping stats.
But then, every once in a while, a quarterback — we’ll call him Davis — will throw a game that reminds us why Mr. Jones doesn’t have more opportunities for INTs and pass breakups. The answer: What is, “Because you’d have to be out of your mind to throw anywhere near him?”
Overall, this game felt similar to a few this season — Oregon State comes to mind — where Washington was mostly dominant. Still, there seemed to be little things that would have been more damaging against a scarier team; the couple of underthrows, the special teams, the slow start...luckily, if there’s one thing I’ve learned to trust from Coach Pete, it’s his ability to zero in on and quickly turn around aspects of the team that are wanting.
What’s that? Oh, Chris Petersen’s former player versus Chris Petersen’s former team? Unfortunately that’s not how it actually turned out, as Deontae Cooper didn’t get any reps. Like last week, I surmise San Jose State’s coaching staff is playing it safe to avoid him aggravating an undisclosed injury from a few weeks back. If that is indeed the case, get better soon, Coop!
Line of the Week
Besides the fact that, by some mystery of human judgement, I have yet to be invited to be a narrator on Drunk History, the Huskies have me feeling pretty good about things now that the season is in its final sprint.
But also I just want to make all of you uncomfortably nervous for the next three weeks and the following is the surest way to do so:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.