To begin with, I should admit most of my reactions to Saturday’s game are less what most people would call “thoughts,” and more what they would call “unintelligible blubbering with a dash of muffled sobs.” Furthermore, of my actual concrete thoughts on the matter, only about half of them are on the game itself, and the other half are on people’s reactions.
Now, as you know if you’re a faithful reader of this stupid piece o’ crap column, roughly 90, 95% of what I write is garbage — that number may drop to 85% on a good day — and this week isn’t any different. In fact, it may be up to a record high 98%. I just tell you this as a warning in case you’re thinking “Ya know what? I’ve got better things to do with my time, like finally getting around to watching Mad Men, or actually doing the work I’m pretending to do on this computer while reading this dumb sentence, since reading this will just keep reminding me that the team from the terrible place won.”
Because, as far as I can tell, half the terribleness of your team losing — all the more so if it’s a bonafide Very Important Game™ — is in the fact that your team lost. The other half of the terribleness is that then you have to listen to those dreadful histrionics from that splinter of fans who now declare Petersen is terrible at his job, Hamdan is terrible at his job, Jake is the worst quarterback in the history of America — nay, the world, Kwiatkowski is terrible at his job, Gregory is terrible at his — actually, in fairness, the special teams coverage was a special brand of ass, so...
But I legitimately saw a dude or two on Twitter say Washington should fire Petersen. Dear sir who said that, if you’re reading this: If you think Chris Petersen is a bad coach, just wait until you find out how bad other coaches are. In other words: holy fucc stop it. (It’s not swearing since I used two “c”s.)
Obviously it’s normal and acceptable to be pissed/sad/a wee bit hysterical/double-fisting a gallon of Rainier and ground up Dick’s burgers through an IV after something that’s so clearly the work of Satan as Saturday was. Just... Chill with blasting your hot takes out to the world, yo. Please?
All fanbases have that subgroup of people who appear clinically incapable of not declaring the sky falling in response to, oh, just about everything, and Saturday was Washington’s turn. It sucks. The end. (If you want to feel better, though, click that link and go through Georgia fans’ overreactions because they are a-maaaaaaaaaaze-ing.)
Similarly, there’s a few constants I’ve figured out so far in life:
- Never get complacent when things are going good because something bad is eventually gonna happen and if you’re not even remotely expecting it, it’ll suck even more.
- Feral cats never die.
- Don’t idealize the thing you think you want because — on the off-chance you ever achieve it anyway — it’ll be a big fat letdown if you’ve been holding it on a pedestal this whole time.
- No seriously, that cat’s gonna live forever.
- As long as you don’t fail the class and aren’t planning on grad school, grades don’t matter.
- The more familiar you get with something or someone, the more familiar you get with their flaws, which kinda sucks but that’s life, so...
- The most beautiful place on Earth is a hand-made mansion-shack hybrid on Pender Island.
- If you like (God forbid “love”) enough different things, you get to enjoy more but, on the flip-side, will also always be missing something since you can’t have it all at once.
- Don’t drink the Egg Nog that someone left out for 10 hours on the counter in the kitchen of the mansion-shack on Pender Island.
- On second thought, go for it, you’ll probably be fine and, if not, then you get a good story out of it. Unless you die, in which case, I mean, you were gonna die eventually anyway, so...
- Maximize surface area on each chip when making nachos so each nacho is comparably enjoyable, like a weird nacho communist.
- Your little cousin who you and your other cousin picked on as kids is gonna grow up to be way cooler than all of you.
- There’s a plurality of people who will complain about their offensive coordinator/quarterback/head coach/roommate/kicker/defensive coordinator/pet ocelot (pick anything, really) and demand that said complained-about-subject be fired/demoted/returned to the exotic pet store/never given play-calling duties again, and then, the moment they get what they want, will instantly do the exact same thing about whoever’s next at that position anyway.
If you find yourself often in the position of #3, maybe consider the phrase, “If you meet one person who’s an asshole, they’re an asshole. But if every person you meet is an asshole, you’re the asshole, asshole.”
Except replace “person” with OC/HC/QB/DC/kicker and “asshole” with “blithering moron.”
My main point being — and if you don’t have too much of a tendency to do the above, disregard — what even would be the point of firing whoever it is you want fired, if you’re just gonna demand the next guy is fired anyway, and so on and so on? (If you want an Exhibit A of the nuts-o crazy folks that fall under this category, go find some archived UGA message boards where some delusionals have spent the last three years going “‘So-and-so is our savior at QB!’ *fast forward nine months later* ‘So-and-so sucks at QB, put in new true freshman, whatshisface!’” from Jacob Eason, to Jake Fromm, to Justin Fields.)
That of course isn’t to say it’s unreasonable to be a critic or not think that everything is fine always and forever. Just that there’s a difference between going “Gee, here’s a couple things that sucked that if Washington did better would maybe have changed the outcome” versus “Grumble grumble grumble this team sucks the coach sucks the play-calling sucks the quarterback sucks the kicker sucks and they’ll never win again and I’m gonna yell about this in all caps on Twitter forever because my enlightened takes such as ‘This team is losers’ need to be heard, dammit.”
As for my own thoughts, sure, there were a few plays where I probably would’ve done it differently; not running another play or two to get Peyton Henry more yards, for example, and I thought the Sean McGrew wildcat was an example of Bush Hamdan trying to get too cute/maybe not trusting Jake enough.
But overall, this was overwhelmingly a matter of execution and depth; on offense, the passing game rarely seemed to have all units working 100% on any given play, whether due to receivers not getting separation, dropping passes (hi Baccellia), or Browning being inaccurate or having poor timing. No true WR had more than two catches — Drew Sample, overwhelmingly a mostly blocking tight end, was the leader with four. Ironically, Washington’s air game was statistically miles above Oregon’s both in yards per attempt (9.7 vs 6.3), yards per completion (16.2 vs 11), completion percentage (60% vs 56%), total yard (243 vs 202), and, in fact, the Dawgs also generated more offense in general at 437 total yards vs 379. The box score reads like a Washington victory — everywhere except for the final score. Ugh. That hurts.
As far as players who stood out for positive reasons, Byron Murphy’s touchdown-saving PBU was an exhibit in the extremes of human coordination and, for as much as we go back and forth with his talents and deficits, Ben Burr-Kirven had, by my reckoning, at least two touchdown-saving tackles. I suppose that’s as much a praise of him as it is a criticism of the defense as a whole in those situations for being out of position but, meh, whatever.
Lastly, one of the most prominent reactions to Saturday was a bunch of dudes on Twitter with all-lowercase usernames (you savages!) blasting the program for apparently not having Adam Vinatieri as a kicker. Which, first off... Bro, have you never watched college football before?
There is a reason that the best kickers in high school flame out just as frequently if not more so than the best quarterbacks, and there is a reason that even the best teams in college football (Hi, Bama) more often than not don’t have a reliable kicker, and there is a reason why recently-drafted all-time leading SEC points-scorer Daniel Carlson is no longer on an NFL roster, or why, of the NFL’s top 22 active leaders in field goal percentage, only nine attended Power Five schools with an initial scholarship (Justin Tucker or Kai Forbath, for example), while the other thirteen were either playing in the FCS (Vinatieri, South Dakota State), Group of Five (Santos, Tulane), Div II (Zuerlein, Nebraska-Omaha and Missouri Western), Div III (Hauschka, Middlebury), or were walk-ons at Power Five schools (Gould, PSU).
In other words, transitioning kickers from one level to the next — whether high school to college or college to the NFL — is so mental, it’s barely more than a crapshoot; the likely best way to get a reliable kicker is to bring a boatload of walk-ons on each year and not spend a scholarship on anyone until they prove they can make it, but resources are finite, so c’est la vie.
So, for those asking “Why isn’t Pete getting kickers on scholarship?”, he is, and every scholarship offered to a kicker out of high school is just as likely to be a wasted scholarship as it is to win Washington Saturday’s game in a do-over.
As it is, Peyton Henry is a fine kicker by college kicking standards, and it just so happens that college kicking standards are horrifically stressful for fans of teams sending out a kicker on any given play.
Line of the Week
In honor of our suffering, and in honor of the fact that sometimes K.I.S.S.-ing (Keeping It Simple, Stupid-ing) is best, there’s only one this week, and it's surely how we all feel:
Actually, wait, I can't help it. Here's a few more illustrations of Saturday and our feelings:
Anyways, do good things, don’t do bad things, take deep breaths, and bow down to Washington.