More Apple Cup domination – The Huskies absolutely eviscerated a hyped-up Cougar team for the third-straight year and won their fifth-straight Apple Cup. The Cougars were somehow basically out of the game even earlier than they were in 2016. Chris Petersen clearly has a handle on Mike Leach and the Apple Cup.
Myles Gaskin – The only bad thing about watching Gaskin shred Washington State was knowing it was probably his last game in Husky Stadium. His numbers are fantastic, but even better was just the way he ran. He never went down and stretched out run after run after run. One of the best all-time to play the position for the Huskies proved it in his last home game.
Vita Vea – Another player who you sensed was putting on a show in his final game in Husky Stadium. Vea collapsed the pocket over and over again and forced the Cougars to have to put three blockers on him numerous times.
Offensive line – The offensive line simply wasn’t nearly as dominant as I think most thought they would be this season, even before Trey Adams went down, but they had their best game of the season Saturday night. They controlled the line of scrimmage, silenced Hercules Mata’afa and protected Jake Browning when he did pass.
Pass defense – Vea and company got after Luke Falk all game with their power and speed but what really allowed them to do that was how well the pass defense played. Aside from forcing three picks, the pass defense also regularly kept Cougar receivers in front of them when they did catch the ball and rallied to limit gains.
Turnover creation – Even when it was at its best in 2017, the Husky D seemed to lack the knack for creating turnovers that they had in 2016. That was not the case Saturday as they may have got some help from the rain and created four against the Cougars and easily could have had a few more had the Cougars not recovered their own fumbles. These turnovers also really sparked the offense.
Hitting Falk – Everyone knew one of the major keys to disrupting Falk is not just pressuring him, but delivering blows. The defense did that and then some, regularly punishing Falk with sacks and general contact.
Hitting and tackling in general – The Husky defense and special teams units had one of those games where it seemed the opponent was scared to even get the ball because of the level of licks being dished out.
10-2 – Not making it to the Pac-12 Championship Game with the level of talent and experience on the team combined with expectations hurts, but getting to 10 wins for the second-straight season is a major milestone. Especially accomplishing it without having to win a conference championship game or bowl game. It’s easy to get caught up quickly in escalating expectations, but keep in mind that this is the first time the Huskies have had back-to-back 10-win seasons since Don James was coaching.
Injuries – I’m not sure the level of injury yet, but losing two of the team’s best and most-beloved seniors in Lavon Coleman and Dante Pettis so quickly on senior night was brutal. Hopefully they are okay for the bowl game.
No Pac-12 Championship Game – For all deserved excitement for bashing the Cougars the way they did, the sad fact is it was the COUGARS who had a shot to play for a Pac-12 championship going into the game and not the Huskies. I think the Huskies showed that they were too good of a team to have such little to play for in the last week of the regular season.
Bowl destination – Again, keep bigger picture perspective of overall success, but it just seems hard to get excited about the Alamo or Holiday Bowls. It seems impossible, but maybe a Cotton or Fiesta Bowl picks the Huskies because of the lack of losses and strong fanbase?
Luke Falk – I’ve been very impressed with Falk at times, but he simply struggled against a good defense on the road in the rain. Maybe those descriptors cut him some slack, but I expect All-Pac-12/NFL QBs to not throw the amount of interceptions he threw on Saturday night.
Up for a bowl? Bowl games outside of the giant ones seem to be about 75% determined by which team actually wants to be there. Will the Huskies be up to play their best if they end up in San Antonio or San Diego?
Coleman & Pettis? Will the senior running back and senior receiver be back for a bowl game? I think the NFL potential of both will also factor in.
Underclassmen? There is no question Vea played his last college game and I am pretty sure Gaskin did as well, but what about the more under the radar underclassmen who could declare? Are Gaines and McGary also gone – maybe throw Jordan Miller in there as well? And are we 100% on Trey Adams?
Assistant coach moves? Jonathan Smith reportedly interviewed for Oregon State despite being the most unpopular Husky assistant coach since Nick Holt and Jimmy Lake has to be a red hot candidate for at least a defensive coordinator job. Will see start to see shake ups in the staff?
2018 expectations? We’re not past the bowl game yet, but 2018 expectations are already bubbling? Next year seems a lot less clear than this year. Going into 2017, we knew the Huskies were preseason North favorites, Pac-12 leaders with USC and a Top 10 team. I’m a lot less sure about next year. Where do the Huskies stack up going into next season? And what should expectations be?