QB: Jake Browning's dominating performance was certainly the storyline from this game. He finished the day 23/28 for 294 yards and tied a school record with five passing touchdowns, all in one half plus one drive in the third quarter. The sophomore quarterback was in near-complete control of the game while he was in. He worked through his progressions well, rarely holding onto the ball for too long, and was lethal with his accuracy. He didn't take any deep shots today, but he made every other throw you could want from your quarterback. I was particularly impressed by his ability to hit the far sideline from the opposite hash mark. The most impressive part of his stellar performance may have been his ability to both climb and roll out of the pocket to extend plays.
The offensive line didn't provide Browning with the cleanest pocket throughout the day, particularly in the first quarter, but it seemed not to affect the sophomore quarterback, save for when Browning was stripped on a blindside sack. That was one of his only mistakes on the day, though I put more of the blame on Trey Adams, who completely whiffed on his block. The offensive line will have to improve their ability to provide Browning a much cleaner pocket than they did Saturday if the Huskies are going to contend for a Pac-12 championship, but Browning's ability to extend plays is an incredibly valuable skill.
Browning has eight touchdown passes through two games, which is half his entire season total last year. Granted, the Huskies haven't exactly played an elite defense so far this season, but regardless, Browning looks well on his way to proving that he belongs in the conversation as one of the Pac-12's, if not the nation's, best quarterbacks.
Backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels also got some valuable reps in during the third and fourth quarters, and recorded the second passing touchdown of his career.
RB: It was a pretty quiet day for the Huskies' running back group for a second week in a row. Myles Gaskin put together an efficient day, turning just 12 carries into 67 yards and his first touchdown of the season. The inability for the Huskies to really assert themselves on the ground in the first half is no doubt a concern, but I believe that it has been more an offensive line issue than the running backs' problem. Still, the running game did improve this week, even if it wasn't a dominant performance.
Jomon Dotson also put together a nice game and got quite a bit of action in the second half, as he finished with eight carries and 48 yards, nearly a six yard-per-carry average. He also threw one of the best blocks you will see from a running back and saved Browning from getting sacked.
WR: As has been well documented, the Huskies' motto this season is "Prove It" and through two games, this position group has arguably done the best to prove it so far. What many thought would be a weakness has been one of the offenses' biggest strengths so far. Dante Pettis led this group Saturday, finishing six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He showed his ability to be a great scramble drill target as Browning found him in the back of the end zone after rolling out of the pocket and extending the play. Pettis also showed off some improved quickness and blocking ability throughout the day, and looks poised to put together a very successful junior season.
John Ross pulled down two touchdown passes Saturday and showed that he may be able to be more than just a deep threat this season for the Huskies, as both of his touchdowns came off of quick slant routes in the redzone. There was a bit of scare early in the game when Ross left the field limping after he was hit on an unsuccessful reserve, but thankfully it turned out to be just a stinger as Ross returned shortly after. Chico McClatcher also put together a solid game, recording three catches for 76 yards and one touchdown. His touchdown came off a beautiful tunnel screen play.
This entire group put together a very strong game, as they accounted for 296 receiving yards and five touchdowns. They also did a good job of setting the edges on reverse running plays. Not much to complain out it with this group.
TE: It was a quiet day for the Huskies' tight ends as Darrell Daniels was the only tight end to end up with a catch. Coming into the season, most Huskies fans thought that the wide receivers would be a bit of an Achilles heel, and that the tight ends would be one of the offense's biggest strengths. While it is certainly too early to call the tight ends a weakness, through two games they have hardly been the strength many expected. Granted, the Huskies didn't need this group much through the air Saturday, but once they enter conference play, they will need this talented position group to start producing. To their credit, I felt that this group did a pretty good blocking job. It was particularly encouraging to see redshirt junior David Ajamu throw a critical block on Myles Gaskin's touchdown run. Not only because it is great to see Ajamu on the field after suffering an unfortunate knee injury last season in warm-ups against USC, but also because blocking has not been one of Ajamu's strengths during his time at Washington. If he can continue to improve as a blocker, look for him to see more playing time.
I was going to give this group a B-, but decided to drop them a half grade due to Drew Sample's rather embarrassing drop early in the game. Therefore,
OL: And here we are, the position group that every Huskies fan, myself included, loves to worry about. And for those who are waiting until this group puts together a dominant performance before buying the hype, well, they are going to have to keep waiting. This group was once again unable to set the tone early on the ground as they failed to generate a consistent push, particularly in the first quarter. While the run blocking did improve a bit as the game went on, they still struggled to open up consistent running lanes in the second half, when everyone in the stadium knew the Huskies were going to run the ball. That may not matter when they are leading by 42 points against a vastly overmatched opponent, if the Huskies are going to truly compete for a Pac-12 title, they will have to be able to run the ball when everyone knows they are going to run.
The offensive line also struggled early to create a pocket for Browning. These struggles were clearly illustrated when Browning was sacked and stripped in the first quarter after Idaho's defensive end Kaden Elliss simply blew past Trey Adams. However, despite the early struggles in creating a pocket, and the fact that the line wasn't able to open up big holes, it wasn't all bad. Along with the rest of the offense, the line settled down a bit in the second quarter, though Browning still had to climb the pocket and extend more plays then one would like.
There is probably more to be said about this group, but I am confident that more than enough ink will be spilled about this group in the comment sections in the coming days.
DL: The defensive line put together another solid game Saturday, but it is clear that the Huskies are still looking for Travis Feeney's replacement as a pass rusher. Sophomore Tevis Bartlett did record the first sack of his career Saturday, but through the Huskies' first two games it has been defensive tackle Vita Vea who has provided the most consistent pass rush. He showed great consistent strength and quickness, and was simply too much for the Vandals to handle. Greg Gaines had a very strong performance as well and finished .5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and three tackles on the day.
Despite the lack of a pass rush on the edge, this group still put together a dominant performance on Saturday. If they are able to put together a pass rush on the edge, they may prove to be the defense's strongest group.
LB: The linebackers had a solid if somewhat unspectacular game Saturday. Azeem Victor led the group as he tied safety Budda Baker for a team high in tackles, as he tallied six and a half on the day. Connor O'Brien also accounted for the defense's first score on the season, as he returned a 46-yard interception for a score in the fourth quarter.
I'm going to ding this group a little bit however due to their lackluster pass coverage in the first quarter. The Vandals were able to move the ball with some success at the beginning of the game, mainly because their wide receivers and tight ends were able to find holes among the linebackers' pass coverage. I'm also going to ding this group half a grade because of Victor's inexplicable decision to try to take his fumble recovery out of the end zone.
Secondary: Another dominant day for the secondary. They broke up multiple third down passes and laid the wood on quite a few plays. JoJo Mcnitosh delivered the play of the game when he forced a fumble in the first quarter on what would have been a game-tying touchdown. Budda Baker recorded 6 tackles and also added half a sack.
Special Teams: The Huskies special teams showed up in force to start the game when Budda Baker forced a fumble on the opening kickoff. There wasn't much too complain about here, Tristan Vizcaino recorded six touchbacks, and also put together two nice punts, though one did bounce into the end zone. If there is one thing to nitpick, they did give up a kick return to about midfield in the third quarter.
Coaching: Not much too complain about with the coaches this week, but I will lodge one complaint. It was mildly disappointing that it took the Huskies a quarter to step on the Vandals' throats, especially after such an electric start. The Vandals were able to drive down the field and would have tied the game if it were not for Mcintosh's incredible play. It also took the offense a quarter to gel. The only reason I can think of to account for the slow start to the first quarter, after an electric first play, was the fact that the team wasn't completely up to play at the start of the game. With that said, credit the coaching staff for the next three quarters, which was about as dominant as one could want.