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Stuff and Shenanigans: ColoraD’Oh

A bunch of Washington things we thought were bad are maybe not bad? It’s almost like football teams are dynamic apparatuses formed by dozens of human beings who are learning and growing each day.

NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome.

I never know what to do with this introductory paragraph; it’s like holding your hands in a photograph. This is partly because (A) I don’t want to give away any of my upcoming hot Washington Football takes, and (B) I write it after everything else and at that point am too mentally exhausted to come up with something witty or relevant.

I suppose then, that we should just get straight to Saturday’s takeaways:

A 66% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything

Shall we begin with the defense? (That’s rhetorical. We shall, because I’m the benevolent dictator of this column who doesn’t care about your response to that question.)

On the plus side, it looks like the pass rush isn’t fatalistically destined to suck. Related to that, Ryan Bowman’s season so far has been a quality impression of Matt Lewis’s Neville Longbottom portrayal in Harry Potter and the All Eight Movies Without Peeves: Started out as just some dude and we were all like “What do you even do here?” and then all of a sudden got good. Confusingly good, relative to his previous insignificance.

Until Saturday, I and many others were a bit concerned that Bowman had made his way into the two-deep yet was providing apparently little impact. Now we know what he can do. And what he can do is delightful. And I certainly hope to see more of that.

What was even better about Bowman’s performance was that it wasn’t the only one. For all that worrying about the pass rush, how glorious it is that we’ve seen the light. And that light is Levi Onwuzurike’s triceps.

Those two killed, Jaylen Johnson stood out, Bartlett continued to improve from last week, and even Benning Potoa’e looked noticeably better. What’s particularly impressive is that this collective turning on of the switch happened against a quarterback like Steven Montez, whose shiftiness is more canon than King James.

Six different players got either a sack or tackle for loss.

Another specific plus: Ben Burr-Kirven was way better than in his first week or two. I know I’ve been among those that have been critical of his play but that’s not for a lack of wanting him to succeed, both for his sake and Washington’s. Until this Saturday he had been for the last two years a solid force who was indispensable as a second-string but rarely a game-changing playmaker. While he didn’t spontaneously make that jump against Colorado, his leverage against ballcarriers and blockers was much better and, more importantly, he had far fewer instances of being caught out of position.

I do love me an example of a human getting better at a thing. Being static is so 2009.

The negatives with the defense were minimal outside the first Colorado drive. What did unnerve me was how easily Colorado was able to attack the flats, at least early on. Sure, that’s an easy target on most otherwise-sound defenses but... I don’t know... Maybe I’m just spoiled by Petersen’s kick-ass defenses so that every yard forfeited feels like Armageddon.

That’s it for my genius take on the defense. Now for a brief word from our sponsors:

My future husband is undoubtedly in this picture.

Welcome back from the break. On to the offense, where we’ll continue with the theme of “Is this thing that used to kinda suck a strength maybe?”

Exhibit A, where, during the first three games, the run blocking was inconsistent at best and as successful as a Henry VIII marriage at worst. Against Colorado? All my brain can think of to describe it is Jacobim Mugatu going “That run blocking is so hot right now.” I was getting a bit antsy about the run blocking but that — that was A-okay. As if the offensive line’s performance needed any validation, Myles Gaskin had more rushing yards than he’d ever got in one game. An impressive statistic for someone who’s already fifth in Washington career rushing yards, no?

In the air game, there’s one heck of a discrepancy between Quinten Pounds’ insane skill on that touchdown catch (you know the one) and his contributions otherwise.

If he can do that, does it mean he can also consistently show up as a route runner and sidekick to Dante? Sweet Buddha I hope so because now that the run blocking and pass rush are, as previously established, mega-flawless and from this point on outside of our realm of worry, my scrutiny is gonna be extra concentrated where the receiving corps is concerned. And if said receivers — I dunno — Google themselves and hence end up on this site, they shall feel my wrath of grumpiness. Please Quinten, be the change, bro. Or whatever.

Lastly, a reminder: I’m sure some of you woke up Sunday and, whether it was due to too much whiskey in a plastic bottle or just selective memory loss that explains your gambling habits, forgot much of the contents of this game. I bet some of those saw the 37-10 scoreboard and thought “Dayum, we destroyed ‘em all sorts of easily.” And to those of you who took that away from Colorado and subsequently think Washington looks in their current state like an undefeated, crush it in the Pac 12 Championship and go to the CFP-type team, I say: go back and watch that game.

The Dawgs killed in the later 3rd and 4th quarters to wreck and demoralize Colorado but a more resilient opponent would have given Washington a final score reminding us how stressful that ordeal was. The output in the first half, especially on offense, looked like an 8-win team at best. Luckily (and not coincidentally, thanks to Coach Pete) football is played for four quarters. That Washington dominated the final quarter and a half masks the previous mistakes that, if they continue, will come back and hurt. A lot.

With Petersen, though, I’m not too worried.

Oh wait, actually lastly: Sweet God Almighty someone fix our kicking, alright that is all good luck and good night or morning or whatever time you’re reading this also please Lord [insert deity here] don’t test us with a game decided by our field goal unit we’ll sacrifice anything to prevent that, even Chris Landon’s love affair with Cal Football please I beg you.

That is all.

Line of the Week

Some of you were overly confident heading into this game. I know this because I skimmed the comments section of our Colorado vs. Washington Predictions piece and saw some frighteningly purple-tinted glasses.

For those of us who were not those people, this is what the first half felt like:

Like, even with my 95% certainty that Washington was way better, would come to life and end up winning handily, this is still the most accurate representation of me and any like-minded hooligans out there.

Also, I absolutely guarantee you this is the pump-up speech Pete Kwiatkowski or whoever gave to Levi Onwuzurike before the game:

Seriously. That kid had some plays that made me cringe for the Buff on the other end.

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.