12-1 Pac-12 Champion with a bullet - I admit I didn’t think it was possible. I thought the Huskies could win the Pac-12, but I thought it would at least be an edge-of-your-seat ride filled with tight games and likely at least two losses. But no. The Huskies won the North outright, suffocated their championship game opponent and blew out all but just three of their opponents all season.
Commitment to the run - I think this game showed Jonathan Smith and company may have learned their lesson from the USC game. Instead of trying to force the pass and trickery over and over again, the Huskies stuck with the run and pulverized Colorado’s front with run after run with their two-headed monster of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.
Everything about the defense - Outside of one ugly drive, the defense was just about flawless. They stuffed the run like they were playing Portland State, locked down the pass, picked off the ball, pressured the quarterback and finished sacks and basically just didn’t let Colorado get anything going all game.
Taylor Rapp - Rapp showed that nose for the ball and picks he showed against USC and put the game away. I can’t even remember a Husky safety who showed the ability to not just track the ball, but to also pick it off the way Rapp did as a true freshman. He looks to be an All-American in the making.
The left side of the line - Trey Adams and Jake Eldrenkamp made money all night as the staff committed to riding them up and down the field and they did the job, dominating a Colorado front which had been very good all year.
Containing Phillip Lindsay - Other than a few plays, the Huskies bottled up Colorado’s most-dynamic player and forced Colorado to try and go elsewhere.
Sidney Jones & Kevin King - It might be very hard watching the defense for a while without this cornerback duo. They simply rarely ever let anyone get open.
Blitz pressure - Another potential learning from the USC game, the Huskies found a way to dial up blitzes that broke the line and were able to mostly contain athletic quarterbacks to end the play.
Ball control - The commitment to the run and the dominance of the run game allowed the Huskies to control the ball and make a game that even when it was just 14-7, seemed like it was already decided.
Lavon Coleman - I selfishly hope this guy comes back next year. Myles Gaskin had a great game and made a lot of plays, but Coleman was the guy who simply seemed unstoppable. Even when numerous defenders had him, he still rode them for extra yards. He looked a lot like Utah’s Joe Williams.
John Ross touchdown - It was a quiet night for the Husky receivers, but Ross made as much noise as he could with maybe the play of the year on that crazy one-handed catch and score.
Playoffs- So glad the talk is finally over and the Huskies are in the Playoffs. I never thought this could have happened, so it’s all good no matter what happens from here to me.
Jake Browning - Browning didn’t respond well to pressure early and had another very off game like he did against USC. There were simply a lot of plays when there was no one open, but even when they were, Browning seemed to miss them, missing on a lot of passes for no clear reason, especially to Ross.
Handling blitzes - The Huskies (particularly Nick Harris & Kaleb McGary) had a lot of trouble with blitzes. Colorado seemed to frequently blow up passing plays whenever they sent an extra defender on a blitz.
Not utilizing Ross & Pettis - It was sad to see Ross and Pettis so quiet on such a big stage. The Huskies had two of the best receivers in the Pac-12, but they barely got them the ball. That can’t happen against Alabama.
Drawing number four in the Playoff spot - Yes, I am a homer, but I think it is absolute bulls*** that the Huskies stayed behind Clemson and, to a much-lesser extent, Ohio State. The Huskies made a big statement by blowing a Top 10 team out of the water while Clemson beat a middling Virginia Tech team by just seven points (while giving up 35 points) and Ohio State sat at home. The Huskies should have gotten the jump on one of those two teams and got a softer opponent, closer to home.
Jake Browning? First a known. The Huskies have zero shot of beating or keeping it close with Alabama if Browning has another off game. The unknown is what exactly the deal with Browning is and if it can be fixed in the next month.
Can Alabama be beat? The hype around Alabama is real. Yes, they can be beat. Mississippi hung 43 on their defense (albeit much earlier in the season) and LSU held them to just 10 points. It’s sports, anyone can lose (that 2001 Miami team almost lost to Boston f****** College), but it is going to take a gargantuan performance from the Huskies to get this one done. Particularly on putting up some fight on offense. That Alabama defense has no joke, nearly double-digit first rounders on it and are scary up front against the run.
With that said. Can the Huskies find a way to keep things close and pull off a huge upset in Atlanta?