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The good, the bad & the unknown: Utah

The good, the bad and the unknown of Washington’s 33-30 win over Utah.

NCAA Football: Utah at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

A win - It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t comfortable and it wasn’t easy, but the Huskies got win number nine and move on. There wasn’t really much at stake here, but it was a hell of a job by the team staying competitive in a weird energy game and getting a win.

The rally - The Huskies went Reggie Miller on the Utes and showed an urgency and rally capability I don’t think we have ever seen in the Chris Petersen era. The final wasn’t just a win, but a game that showed the Huskies they can win in close games and come from behind.

Vizcaino coming through - It has been a rough season for Vizcaino and was a very rough game until the final play, but the kicker came through when he needed to. Too bad it’s so late in his career, but maybe this will give him confidence for kicking in the Apple Cup and a bowl game.

Jake Browning - Did Browning miss some open receivers us couch QBs think he should have seen. Yes. Did he try to run for a long fourth down conversion and come up short again. Yes. Did he damn near take another 20-yard frickin sack. Yes. Okay. But he was also 26-35 for more than 350, made great throws when needed most and led the win. One of the best games of his career.

The bounces and a little luck - For most of the game it looked like it was going to be another game where bounces, weird plays and tipping points didn’t go in the Huskies’ way. Then it all kind of did at once. Maybe the Huskies were just due to get some breaks.

Gaskin & Coleman receiving - The Husky running backs stepped up in receiving in a game where rushing yardage was hard to come by. Nine catches for more than 125 and two huge scores. Extra points for Gaskin’s touchdown catch being a thing of utter beauty.

Receivers - Baby steps, but the receivers made major strides in this game. Pettis was great in receiving and rushing and would have had bigger stats if Browning had hit him a few more times. A healthy Baccellia and healthier Fuller looks to be really helping. Also, a great game by Dissly receiving.

Pass rush - The defense got after Tyler Huntley. A lot of credit for him for standing in and taking punishment, but the defense got to him a lot, even if they didn’t have a huge number of sacks. They will have a shot at doing very well in the Apple Cup if they can get after Luke Falk like that.

Run defense - The Huskies kept Utah from moving the ball on the ground. Holding them to a very low yards per-carry.

Late defense - The defense stepped it up big time in Utah’s final drives to make the plays to get the offense the ball back. It ended up being the difference in the game.

The Bad

Kicking - The cold hard fact is the Huskies easily could have lost another game to a lesser team because of kicking. Here’s to hoping there is a better kicker next year.

Pass defense - The pass defense got shredded by a subpar passing attack again, even with the help of pressure from the front. Byron Murphy didn’t look at the level he did before his injury and the backup cornerbacks struggled all night to make plays. Losing JoJo McIntosh hurt as well. This unit is going to have a very tough time in the Apple Cup if they don’t improve soon. The pass defense especially struggled with giving up large, chunk plays.

Stanford beating Cal - Cal came fairly close to beating Stanford and keeping the Huskies’ Pac-12 championship hopes alive. Unfortunately, the Cardinal slogged out yet another ugly win and now the Huskies are simply playing for record.

Special teams gaffes - Allowing an onside kick recovery and a 19-yard fake punt first down conversion in crunch time in one game is pretty crazy and damn near cost the game.

3rd Down defense - It wasn’t as bad as it was against Stanford, but the Huskies struggled to get Utah off the field all night. Throw in 4th down conversions, and it was another rough night.

Bowl destination - Given returning experience and talent and preseason expectations, the likely destination of either the Alamo Bowl or Foster Farms Bowl is a bit of a downer now that we know that’s what’s likely.

The Unknown

Can the pass defense step up in time? The Husky pass defense has dominated Mike Leach’s attack the past couple of years, but the faces that made that happen are gone and those faces really struggled against two of the conference’s most-pedestrian passing attacks.

Can Jake Browning turn a corner? Saturday night feels like it could have been a coming of age moment for Browning. Can he grow after delivering his first clutch, comeback performance as a leader?

How good are the Cougars? The Cougars are the only team in the North who controls their own destiny, but I still feel like they have no respect. One of the reasons the Cougs are doubted is how solidly the Huskies have manhandled them in the past two Apple Cups when WSU came in with huge expectations. This Cougar team seems a little bit less-dangerous on offense, but better on defense. I truly don’t know what to expect from them, but I do feel like they are due for a good Apple Cup performance.