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Huskies pull away late from Buffaloes: Instant Reactions

The defense shut out Colorado in the 2nd half for a 27-13 victory.

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

Each team went into this game missing their offensive star. For Colorado, it was Leviska Shenault. The Huskies meanwhile went their first game in 3 and half years without Myles Gaskin. He’s shown incredible consistency and resilience during his career but today it was the Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew, and Kamari Pleasant show. The trio combined for 31 carries for 166 yards (5.3 yards per carry). They were just about the only part of the offense that worked with any regularity. Consider the other notable stats:

  • 6 yards per pass attempt
  • 33% on 3rd down conversions
  • 2 turnovers
  • 348 total yards

Those aren’t great numbers, but thankfully the defense pitched a second half shut out after struggling at times with QB Steven Montez and Colorado’s receivers. At one point in the first quarter, Montez completed 6 passes to 6 different receivers, four of which making their first ever catch. It was not a good look early.

Washington finally got on the board in the 2nd quarter after a nice run by Salvon Ahmed who turned on the after burners beating the defense to the end zone. Later in the 2nd quarter, Washington got a 4th and 5 stop in the red zone, and rode Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant down the field for another TD. Going into half time, it was a tight 14-13 affair.

Despite Colorado still having some success passing over the middle, Washington’s defense tightened up and didn’t allow RB Travon McMillan to get going. Colorado’s 2nd half drives ended in: punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt, interception, turnover on downs. A couple of timely penalties helped, but no doubt Washington’s defense adjusted in the 2nd half and started smothering.

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

Still, the game was 17-13 going into the 4th quarter, with a victory far from a certainty even with the Huskies in the red zone, seemingly about to go up 24-13. Then, just about the worst possible outcome happened next. Chico McClatcher fumbled the ball out of the end zone, giving Colorado the ball with a touch back. Washington forced a punt, but a strange penalty on Alex Cook (for “jumping the wall”) gave CU life. The Husky defense wasn’t discouraged, and yet again answered the bell. Myles Bryant had a huge pass break up on 3rd down to kill the drive.

Washington finally got the second half touchdown they were looking for when Aaron Fuller took a 4th and 5 slant 26 yards to the house in the 4th quarter. 24-13, Dawgs. From then on, it was an exercise in killing the clock.

A win is a win, but that was pretty ugly.

Instant Dots:

  • The Huskies are still in the thick of the Pac-12 North and Rose Bowl race, but are a flawed team. It’s survive and advance for the Huskies. Expect plenty of close games.
  • Salvon Ahmed only got 9 carries and he was easily UW’s most dangerous offensive weapon. Was it limiting touches after getting banged up last week? Was it punishment for his “throat slash” penalty after his TD? He was the spark the offense needed with almost every touch. Feed him!
  • The 203 yards on the ground today were Washington’s season high so far. I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about that.
  • This was one of Ryan Bowman’s more active games, as Washington continues to search for answers in the pass rush. He often got into the backfield and flushed out Montez, but struggled bringing him down. He still finished with 1.5 TFLs.
  • Speaking of pass rush, Joe Tryon got his most extensive work at BUCK. He looks really good running around out there, and should develop into a hell of player. He finished with 2 solo tackles.
  • Levi Onwuzurike continues to emerge on the DL and had a sack and two TFLs today. His size and quickness are hard for offenses to deal with. He’s a true “single gap” DL who can provide some interior disruption and pass rush.
  • Ben Burr-Kirven continues to rack up the tackle numbers. He isn’t perfect, but had 15 tackles, a pass break up, and the game sealing interception.
  • At times it feels like the coaches are playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. It was nice to see the team go for it on some 4th downs, but why not try to for points in the final drive of the 2nd half? Petersen seemingly did not trust the offense with 40 seconds, 2 timeouts, and a senior QB to drive down the field and at least get a field goal attempt.
  • After getting beat on Colorado’s first TD, Jordan Miller did not see much action and was replaced by Keith Taylor.
  • Washington was able to stay in this game early by being better in the red zone. In the first half, Washington was 2/2 on TDs in the red zone, while Colorado settled for FGs in both their red zone trips.
  • This is hardly the most dynamic front 7 the Huskies have ever had, but they limited Colorado to 263 total yards, 3-13 on 3rd downs, 3.4 yards per carry, and under 5 yards per play total.
  • Aaron Fuller had a nice game, making a couple big catches. None were bigger than his 4th and 5 slant he took to the house which essentially put the game away.
  • Nice bounce back for Petyon Henry, who drilled both his field goal attempts.
  • The offensive line had a solid day, allowing just 1 sack and 4 TFLs. Though, I will say Jake Browning looked fairly nimble moving in the pocket today.
  • Washington is having bad turnover luck this season. Part of it is a lack of play makers on the defense, but JoJo McIntosh whiffing on a CU fumble recovery hurt. Washington could have stopped Colorado’s first drive cold, but instead gave up a deep TD pass 3 plays later.
  • Washington hits the road next to face Cal down in Berkeley.