Undefeated: It’s easy to take being 1-0 for granted, but right now half the teams in the country wish they were. It’s a challenge to fly nearly 3000 miles and beat a Power 5 team in your opener.
Special Teams: Washington’s special teams were incredible on Friday night in a game that could have been a much closer had they not turned up. A quick recap:
- Dante Pettis took a punt return to the house towards the end of the first half which kicked off a 27-0 run by the Huskies.
- Tristan Vizcaino hit all 3 of his field goal attempts, which included drilling a 42-yarder. He’s a brand new full time kicker who had only one attempt (which he missed) coming into this season.
- Joel Whitford backed Rutgers up against their own goal line with two punts pulled out of the top drawer.
- Those punts were a team effort, with Byron Murphy using his top flight ball skills to down the ball.
- In coverage they were able to contain Janarion Grant, thanks in no small part to Lavon Coleman’s 3 tackles. Not often to do you find a 5th year senior starting RB making special teams tackles.
No turnovers: Need I say more? Okay well Jake Browning fumbled but Kaleb McGary showed great awareness and fell on the ball to secure it.
Byron Murphy: The redshirt freshman we’ve all been waiting for delivered in a big way in the first game of his UW career. Two interceptions, and the two special teams plays in coverage were all big, game changing moments.
Drew Sample: After having only 14 catches in his career coming into this game, the junior TE had 3 receptions for 63 yards on Friday night. He showed some nice wheels too running after the catch. Might he be a real weapon in the pass game this year?
The secondary: It wasn’t just Byron Murphy carrying the secondary as Taylor Rapp and Myles Bryant also stood out. Overall the unit had a great game after many thought it would be Washington’s biggest weakness.
Myles Gaskin: While I’m sure he didn’t get the rushing numbers he wanted, he had two big catches including a beautiful TD grab in the 4th quarter (credit to Jake for taking a big hit yet still delivering a beautiful ball). He also caught the ball out of the backfield for a big gain. He gets stronger as the game goes on which you always like to see from your starting tailback.
Defensive efficiency: It certainly doesn’t feel like Washington dominated Rutgers defensively, but they were quite efficient making the Scarlet Knights earn everything. The Huskies held them to 3 yards a rush, 7.4 yards per passing completion, and 5 yards per passing attempt. While the Huskies were dominated in time of possession 38:09 to 21:51, Rugters only scored on 2 of their 12 total offensive drives. That’s Chris Petersen football.
Wide receivers not named Dante Pettis: Andre Baccellia, Chico McClatcher, and Brayden Lenius combined for just 3 catches and the unit as a whole did not stand out.
The pass rush: The defensive front recorded no sacks on the night (Kyle Bolin falling down doesn’t count) and only 6 TFLs. Keishawn Bierria was also blitzed numerous times and was unable to get much of any pressure. The linebackers in general didn’t really stand out.
Interior OL: Sosebee and Harris had pretty poor games and really contributed to the OL’s bad night, where for most of the game they were not physical enough. Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary were a bit better but the interior contributed most to the sputtering rushing attack. However, they were much better in the 2nd half, especially when the team went tempo. Boomer won the LG spot in camp, but we’ll see if the coaches give Andrew Kirkland more time after seeing Sosebee start.
Red zone offense: Twice deep inside Rutgers territory the Huskies settled for field goals. One pass in particular from Browning was poor when he had Andre Baccellia open. The big guys like Ty Jones and Brayden Lenius weren’t targeted.
Runs up the middle: The Scarlet Knights' new transfer RB Gus Edwards had 24 carries for only 79 yards but the spine of the Husky defense didn’t feel quite as stout as usual. Obviously missing Azeem Victor was a huge factor, and likely larger than any of us realized. He was replaced by Ben Burr-Kirven who didn’t really have a great game but had 11 tackles and was praised by Coach Petersen in his press conference today for what that’s worth. As much as we all love BBK, he’s not the best option as a true MIK linebacker.
Defensive front rotation: How much of the rotation was just getting young guys live reps early in the season? Walk on players Jared Pulu (DL) and Ryan Bowman (OLB) saw plenty of action - will we see more or less of them as the season wears on? Ryan’s older brother Shane Bowman got in there as well and had 2 solo tackles.
The offensive line? I had them in the bad category too, because, well, they were. But, this feels all too familiar, with the early season struggles the team endured last year with regards to the running game. With all the talent and experience returning it begs the question as to why they started so slow. Was it the cross country road trip to start the season against a very fired up and much improved Rutgers team? Could they be adjusting to Scott Huff’s coaching style? Whatever the case may be, the issues with the first team offensive line do feel fixable and it seems like a “when” not “if” type of scenario.
Up-tempo? How much of the no huddle offense will see this year? It was the most effective period of the game for the offense when they went with tempo and we’ll see if they dial that up more as the season marches on.
Freshman on offense? Chris Petersen’s offense is not easy to pick up, but we didn’t see much of Ty Jones or Salvon Ahmed on Friday. Ahmed actually had one carry but was brought down in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. Hunter Bryant opened his Husky account with a catch towards the end of the game, how much more of him will we see?
What do you think, Husky fans? What was good, what was bad, and what aren’t you sure about?