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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 7-13 loss to Arizona State.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

The defense, mostly - The Huskies held a decent Arizona State offense to just 13 points. That should have been more than enough for them to get the win.

Late push - The Husky offense finally wore down the Arizona State defense a bit late in the game and were able to move the ball and score to make it a game late. It was pretty clear that Arizona State knew the Husky offense had a great shot of scoring if they gave them the ball back in the final minutes.

No Tempe for a while - I don’t know what it is, but the Tempe has always been a nightmare for the Huskies. I feel like if you put the 2013 Seahawks in Husky uniforms and had them play in Sun Devil Stadium they would f****** lose at this point.

The Bad

Man...where to start. Let’s go with the top. I guess.

Coaching - I haven’t looked it up, but I have to assume being 1-3 against Todd Graham means Graham is the coach who Chris Petersen has the worst record against and it’s mystifying. Graham clearly seems to have Petersen’s number, especially because these losses have all seemed to play out in the same way with Washington’s defense playing very well, but the offense being an utter disaster to the point where they lose a very winnable game.

In the smaller picture, Petersen seemed to lose his cool. The only other time I can remember it happening was fittingly I think at Arizona in 2014 when it seemed like he wasn’t calling timeouts out of bitterness and frustration.

Kicking those field goals seemed very similar to that and looking back, was a bad call. Just convert one of those fourth and in the red zones to a touchdown and you probably get a win.

Minor sidebar, but I wasn’t against Petersen not calling a timeout to stop the clock late in the first half when Arizona State had the ball. With the way ASU was converting on third down, there was a really good chance that timeout would have just given ASU more time to try and get down and get more points before the half.

Jonathan Smith & Offensive Gameplan - It sure looked like the Huskies were running the same offensive game plan they have all season against a furious Arizona State defensive attack. I’m not an Xs and Os expert so I’ll leave that specific analysis to someone else, but whatever Smith’s gameplan was, it certainly didn’t work in the least.

Kicking game - Holy mother of god I don’t know if I have ever seen worse field goal attempts than the two missed Saturday night. There’s no way a national title contender, let alone a Pac-12 program should ever be that shaky at kicker. This isn’t even an Oregon situation from a few years back where it made sense because they rarely kicked field goals and skipped a lot of extra points.

And that’s just field goal kicking. Getting a punt blocked basically gave up an easy three points, and was lucky it wasn’t worse because the ball bounced forward and not backward.

Another minor gripe is how unimpressive kickoff returns have been. Has the kick return unit took one past the 25 at this point?

Playing Arizona State - Man it would be nice to never play the Sun Devils against. I can stack up about 100 stats which show that Arizona State is for whatever reason a historical disaster for the Huskies, especially on the road, since 2002. I thought Petersen and the success which started last year could push that away, but apparently not. I would add playing in the desert to that as well as this game was a lot like the Arizona game last year, but the Huskies just didn’t get the breaks needed to pull this one out.

Scheduling - I knew one of these three out of four opening road games would be a trap. There’s just no way it wasn’t going to happen. How often do teams even have three of four games scheduled on the road?

The other part of this is having Arizona State get a bye week before. I don’t see a way the Huskies on three of four road games and ASU coming off a bye not being a factor.

The fact that the Pac-12 scheduled or allowed three teams to schedule byes before Washington (basically four) if the Huskies get to the Pac-12 Championship Game and play USC is inexcusable. If this plays out, almost half of WAshington’s conference games will be against teams who had the week off prior.

Slow start - We all knew that this was going to happen. I think most just figured it would be a better team that knocked off the Huskies because they started slowly. The Huskies came out sluggish, even on defense and dug themselves a hole they couldn’t get out of.

Lack of energy - Maybe it was the road/mid-season, no bye yet fatigue, but the Huskies looked slow at every position. I remember this being a regular problem early in Petersen’s tenure. Could this issue be coming back again?

Holding penalty - It took me a while to realize the holding penalty that negated Salvon Ahmed’s touchdown was not on Jesse Sosebee and was on Aaron Fuller. Sosebee held, but actually did a great job of hiding it, especially in real time. To me, it looked like Fuller collided with a defender and then drove him to the ground. Don’t know if it needed to be called.

Jake Browning - Browning is looking more and more like Keith Price every game. He can’t seem to get a pass out quickly and waits way too long so pressure gets through, struggles with any pressure in his face, and seems to get rattled and let it destroy his accuracy. Struggling like that against Alabama and USC is one thing, again, against Arizona State in his junior year, even if his receivers are struggling is very worrisome.

Running Backs - There were rarely large holes, but the running backs still didn’t look like their usual selves. It seemed Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman struggled to make defenders miss or fight through tackles.

Run blocking - The Huskies couldn’t seem to open holes until Arizona State was gassed. It looked like there wasn’t even the hint of a hole whenever the Husky tailbacks got the ball in their hands. Waiting until late in the game when an opponent is gassed isn’t a surefire way to run the ball and win games when you allow yourself to get behind.

Receivers - These guys simply aren’t getting separation. Dante Pettis isn’t dangerous enough on bubble screens to open things up and they aren’t making the tough catches.

Lack of offensive explosion - This has been a constant with the Jonn Rossless Petersen Husky teams. They showed no ability to beat anyone deep or to break a big play from the backfield other than the one that got called back and it’s allow teams to just key on the run game and plug holes without worry of getting beaten over the top.

Defense in the clutch - Overall, the defense more than did their job, but they made a play when they really, really needed to. The Sun Devils seemed to convert so many tough third and fourth downs, especially on that last drive when ended the game. I truly believe that if the defense had came through in the clutch on that last drive, the offense would have gotten the touchdown to win the game.

That last play - That final Arizona State conversion was a microcosm for the entire game and Washington’s recent history against ASU. It was defended basically perfectly - Vea and Gaines engulfed Manny Wilkins in about 1.5 seconds, but he somehow got the ball back - there were multiple defenders there to make the play Wilkins tried to make, but it went a fraction of a hair over JoJo McIntosh’s helmet and ended up in the hands of a guy who had made one other catch all year - he caught it - and Jordan Miller broke his leg. What can you even do?

Injuries - Losing Trey Adams is the kind of brutal blow that swings a win/loss total by a couple of games. This may have been the first one. Throw in Miller’s bizarre injury and you have a real problem as both starting quarterbacks are already gone halfway through the season.

The Unknown

Road fatigue? Were the Huskies burnt out from the road and can a bye week help the team get right?

Dealing with injuries? It has been a while since the Huskies have been stung by injuries in this way. Can they maintain with them and still remain a team that can win the Pac-12?

Larger or smaller issues? The natural reaction to a game like that is to freak out, but keep in mind that Clemson lost at Syracuse this weekend, Oklahoma lost to Iowa State at home earlier this year. Does that mean those teams are trainwrecks? No, it just means they lost tough games. This loss isn’t 100% comparable to that, but it will be seen if this was just a one-off issue game or a game that exposed larger issues.

Jake Browning get right? Browning still looks like the quarterback who floundered late in 2016. Will he ever turn the corner again, or has he leveled off as a solid quarterback who can excel when things are rolling, but who will always struggle in tough games/situations?

Seniors? I’m curious to see how Washington’s seniors are feeling? It seemed coming into the season that the Huskies had a small group of seniors, but they were vocal leaders who were almost all first-team All-Pac-12 players. That group has 100% underwhelmed this year. What’s the temperature of Lavon Coleman, Dante Pettis, Coleman Shelton, Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria right now?

Jonathan Smith? Smith has helped Washington put up huge point totals in a lot of games the past two seasons, but he has a lot of critics and a lot of issues that pop up in losses. Is he feeling the sting of not having Jeff Tedford and John Ross anymore, or was that simply an out of this universe performance by Arizona State’s defense?

Will we see Adams or Miller again? Adams and Miller (especially Adams) had to already be mulling over leaving for the NFL after the season. Have we seen the last of these two actually playing as Huskies?

Stanford? The Cardinal are a wart that just doesn’t seem to go away. Just when you want to bury them, they seem to get a string of easy games, a player who was an afterthought becomes a star overnight and they are trouble again. Is Stanford back to being the team to beat in the North? Can the Huskies send a message in a few weeks?

Goal? National championship had been the goal. That is still a longshot possibility, but given the injuries, and lack of national respect, is that still a realistic goal? Should one thing at a time, a North division title, what the goal should be now?