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The good, the bad & the unknown: Arizona

The Huskies win ugly in the desert.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

A win in the state of Arizona - No matter how good or bad the Sun Devils or Wildcats are, playing on the road in Arizona always seems to be a bizarre experience for the Huskies where nothing seems to go your way. The Huskies hadn’t won in the desert since 2006, so getting this win, even if it was ugly, was a milestone for the program.

Lavon f****** Coleman - A guy who I think a lot of people completely wrote off ended up being the hero on a night when almost every player on the Husky roster seemed to be having an off night. Coleman had 181 on just 11 carries and a huge touchdown and all his big runs seemed to come right when the Huskies really needed them.

Run game in general - The Husky front mostly took care of an undersized Arizona front and racked up 350 plus and three touchdowns on the ground. They also had some great periods of ball control which really helped saved the defense’s gas in the second half.

Browning to Pettis - That was a hell of a pass and a hell of a catch to win the game. Browning through a perfect strike to a covered Pettis and Pettis hung on for the catch of his career.

John Ross - Ross didn’t touch the ball as much as I think anyone would like, but he made the most of it when he did. His touchdown run was a play only he could make and really sparked the team and his touchdown catch was another huge play for the team when they were struggling early on.

Browning’s block - Browning’s block on that Ross touchdown run wasn’t just highlight reel fodder, it sprung Ross and changed what could have been a horrible loss into a touchdown.

Browning’s mobility - Despite not having the speed of a QB like Dawkins, Browning was incredible on his feet, making a number of plays on the ground to get first downs, get a touchdown, and keep plays alive/avoid sacks. He’s the most mobile pro-style quarterback the Huskies have had in a long, long time.

The defense outside of a few plays - The defense had their struggles on the first couple of drives, but outside of a few freakish plays, they played pretty tight. The long Dawkins runs were inexcusable and the miracle bomb which led to the game-tying touchdown was an atrocity, but overall the Husky defense played better than it might have seemed. Especially considering that the offense disappointed for chunks of time and struggled to put points on the board.

Defensive adjustment against Dawkins - I noticed after the first couple of bad drives, the Husky defense started just dropping back against Dawkins instead of forcing the issue, forcing him to beat them from the pocket and it probably saved the game. They broke down late, but for the most part, this strategy worked very well.

Elijah Qualls - Qualls was a bit overshadowed by Vita Vea and Greg Gaines in non-conference play, but he showed up big at Arizona. He had seven tackles and created havoc up front regularly for the Wildcats on running and passing plays.

The Bad

Missed field goals - Missing one makeable field goal in a tight game is fine, but two could have cost the Huskies the game. Simple as that.

Runner stranded - The Husky failed to take advantage of any of the turnovers the three the defense caused. You have to capitalize on those kinds of opportunities in big games.

Penalties - The early false start on a fourth and one the Huskies were going to convert and a pass interference which helped Arizona out of a hole stand out the most, but overall the eight penalties are far too many.

Bad angles and tackling - The Husky defense seemed to forget all of their fundamentals in Tucson as they regularly took bad angles on ball carriers and failed to wrap up which led to almost every big Arizona play.

Defensive end - Joe Mathis made some really nice plays late and Psalm Wooching recovered from a meltdown-level first quarter, but I just can’t help but think defensive end is going to be a trouble spot for the Huskies all season. Almost every play Arizona made all night sprang from issues up front on the edge for the Huskies.

Hurry-up/read option defense - Mostly early, the Huskies looked more phased by the hurry-up read option than they should be since most of the country has seemed to slow it down. The Dawg D made it look like 2009 out there for a while.

Can’t beat blitz - Knowing they were limited on the defense, the Wildcats were blitzing like crazy and the Huskies were unable to hit a screen to neutralize it all night, allowing Arizona to tee off at will.

Browning’s interception - Browning overall had a good game, but his interception in the red zone was the kind of mistake which can kill a game. Especially considering he was trying to throw a jump ball to a running back who is under 5’10.

The Unknown

This game? I don’t know what the hell to make of this game. Getting a win on the road in the Pac-12 is not an easy task these days and the Huskies found a way to win despite playing a “D” game, but the bottom line is the Huskies had to go to overtime to beat up an ailing Arizona expected to be one of the worst in the Pac-12 and may have dodged a bullet when Rich Rodriguez decided not to go for two and play for overtime.

Creampuff hangover? It was clear this was the Huskies’ first “real game.” False starts, poor fundamentals and fatigue are all signs of first-game jitters. Did the Huskies suffer from playing three soft games to start the season?

Myles Gaskin? Gaskin finished with 85 yards on 24 carries while Coleman had 181 on 11. Gaskin has yet to look like the player he did as a freshman. Is something up with the sophomore or is it just a coincidence?

The offense overall? The offense did some nice things and put up yardage, but I can’t help but think that the unit looked eerily similar to the way it did on the road last season while struggling against what is supposed to be a woeful Wildcat unit. Should we be worried about the offense floundering again against better competition in crunch time?

Arizona? I don’t really know what to make of the Wildcats. They looked dangerous with Dawkins’ speed at quarterback and they competed hard, but I’m curious to see if they will look like the contender they did Saturday night most of the year, or go back to being a team with a system which is waning in effectiveness with a bad defense?

Ready for primetime? The Huskies showed they can win a tough game on the road when they aren’t playing well, but everything changes Friday night when they take centerstage for what should be their biggest game on paper going in since 2001. Will the Huskies be ready for take on the Pac-12 throne sitter on just six day’s rest?