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The Good, The Bad, and the Unknown: Colorado Edition

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Some cool highlights to go along with some minor critiques.

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

The Good

The outside LB’s are stepping up. Ryan Bowman ALMOST had three sacks on Colorado QB Steven Montez, but still managed to apply a lot of pressure. The team’s sack leader last year, Bowman had been relatively quite this season before this seven tackle game, which included 1.5 for a tackles loss. Benning Potoa’e also had a good game with seven total tackles. It’s been discussed before, but his strength is not so much rushing the passer as it is setting the edge and forcing ball carriers back inside. It was also good to see redshirt freshman Joe Tryon play some meaningful snaps and get into the backfield a couple of times. He finished the game with a career high of four tackles. With his combo of size and athleticism, big things will be expected from him next year.

DT Levi Onwuzurike is starting to look damn good. He had several plays where he just straight up manhandled opposing offensive linemen. Onwuzurike had four tackles, including two for a loss and the Dawgs’ only sack. As far as defensive linemen are concerned, he was only topped by Greg Gaines’ five tackles and 0.5 for a loss. He’s had some good games prior to this one, but Saturday may have been his coming out party.

The running game was good, even without Gaskin. The combo of Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant combined to rush for 166 yards on 31 carries. While Pleasant had a nice touchdown run in the 2nd quarter, the hole he hit was so massive that just about anyone on the team could have scored on that play. Credit the offensive line and miscues by Colorado’s defense on that one. Not to say that Pleasant isn’t talented. He’s especially valuable as the biggest back on the roster who also has meaningful playing experience.

Ahmed and McGrew however, appear to be a dynamic combination of athletes with elite play making ability. Assuming current true freshman Richard Newton or incoming freshman Cameron Davis don’t jump to the front of the line next season, this is most likely the Huskies’ No. 1 and 2 RB’s of the future. Depending on how long Gaskin is out (hopefully not long), they could actually just be the RB’s of the here and now. If so, Gaskin will be missed but the offense shouldn’t skip a beat.

Colorado was shut out in the second half. After giving up 13 points in the first half, the Husky defense settled in and kept the Buff’s off the score board in the final two quarters. This was the most complete defensive performance since the BYU game and the second game in a row that they held their opponent scoreless in the 4th quarter.

B.B.K. did it again. The nation’s leading tackler added 15 more tackles to his tally, which is now up to 108. He also added another piece of hardware to his growing collection, as he was named the Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week for the second time this season. His selection is appropriate, given that he also had a pick and a pass break-up during the game.

See: Aaron Fuller do work.

(Yes, I do follow a French language college football website. They have a great podcast too.)

The Bad

Converting 3rd downs on offense. The Huskies offense went 3-11 on 3rd downs during this game. It’s better than the Buff’s 3-13, but still not good. On the season, the Huskies are converting 3rd downs at a 48.6% clip (52-107), which actually places them 12th nationally, so this appears to be a new issue. Related, a small piece of good news here is that they did convert both of their 4th down attempts, including Browning’s pass to Fuller in the above video. These stats don’t include a couple of non-conversations on 3rd and 4th down, and one conversion on 3rd down, that were erased by penalties.

The turnovers. Browning’s pick was a questionable decision on his part, but the defender also made a great play. At least Browning made the tackle to prevent it from becoming a pick 6. It did allow Colorado to score their final points of the game via the corresponding field goal. This is the second week in a row a Browning interception has lead directly to points for the opposing team.

Chico McClatcher’s fumble was a big bummer. You feel for the kid, as he’s a great player trying to make his way back from an injury. But fumbling, let alone on the one yard line is never a good thing. It’s also his third fumble of the year. For a guy who’s only touched the ball 17 times total this season (including kick/punt returns), that’s pretty bad. Also, how much better would you have felt about this game if the final score was 34-13? Fumbles happen and not every game can go perfectly, but McClatcher seems to be struggling with them right now. Perhaps he’s still recovering from last season’s injury which is limiting his productivity, but you have to wonder if ball security is on the coaches’ minds when they consider calling up a play for him.

Dropped passes. Browning completed 15-25 of his passes on Saturday. To his credit, several of those passes were good balls that were dropped by his receivers. Given that we have a lot of young and inexperienced receivers on the team, drops are probably to be expected. But the number of drops that occurred this game, and especially the amount that seemed to come on 3rd downs was troubling.

Unknown

Myles Gaskin’s health. It’s been a couple of weeks now since his shoulder injury first became a clear issue for him on the field. After a week of the coaches insisting that he would play against Colorado, Gaskin ended up missing the first game of his career. While the running game did very well without him, he’s still a dynamic veteran back who can change a game in a single play. Hopefully he’s back in pads next week, but if not, expect to see even more of the Ahmed, McGrew, and Pleasant trio.

Which true freshmen will play next? Against Colorado DT Tuli Letuligasenoa played his second game of the season, and his first against a Power-5 opponent. Last week against Oregon, DB Kyler Gordon saw limited playing time. Prior to these two, only three other true freshmen (all linebackers) had played in a game this season and that was against North Dakota. With the new redshirt rule allowing players to play in up to four games in a season without burning their redshirt eligibility, it seems likely that we’ll see at least a couple more true freshmen in some games this season. Especially so, given that we’re now in the second half of the season with only a few conference games remaining.

What would happen if they gave the ball to Ahmed 20+ times a game? Again, he just averaged 8.1 yards per carry on nine carries. Gaskin has averaged about 18 touches per game over his career, so that just might not be something this coaching staff does... But shoot, this kid is scary good.