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Stuff and Shenanigans: Not Buff Enough

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Oh my Lordy is that not a great title or what? Also, bullet points.

Colorado v Washington
“Let me love you” ~Everybody, to K.D. Nixon
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Okay, first off, if you’re someone who not only doesn’t think this column is trash, but so doesn’t think this column is trash that you actually know this is supposed to come out on Tuesdays: Apologies on the delay. But also not sorry because this is free-ass words you’re getting here, so...

Secondly, if the above words make zero sense, apologies for that and, furthermore, preemptive apologies for the fact that that trend is likely gonna continue for the next, oh, 1000 words or so. This is because sleeping on the couch for two days (for reasons that take too many words to explain — and no, they don’t involve a pissy significant other) with an asthmatic cat who decides to go for a stroll on your torso every 45 minutes isn’t conducive to getting even a fraction of a minute of sleep, much less the amount it takes to be able to process language coherently. So now you know what to blame if at any point this just devolves into German Quatsch, dass niemand verstehen kann, oder etwas. Oh crap, like right there.

Anyhoo, that is to say you probably shouldn’t keep reading this malarkey, although, to be fair, if you didn’t stop reading it, like, two years ago, I guess there’s no reason to think this would stop you either.

Without further ado, slightly coherent thoughts about Saturday’s game against Ralphie:

An 86% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything

Hokay, so.

Here is the Washington defense. Dayum, that is a sweet defense you might say. Alright, ruling out having an inside linebacking corps consisting pretty much solely of Ben Burr-Kirven (wtf even is Bartlett these days? Inside? Outside? Who even knows), edge rushers who haven’t yet figured their shenanigans out, and minimal depth behind Greg Gaines, special teams is definitely gonna blow said defense up.

Okay, that’s enough shoe-horning internet references from 2003 into this.

But for real, I’d argue the most impactful liability this year is the kickoff coverage, and it’s pretty drastic.

Because for all the worrying we’ve done about the anemic depth behind BBK and Bartlett when he’s thrown inside, or the pass rush, or the offense’s lack of explosive plays, or the inability to step on the throat of another team to put the game away, or whatever and blah blah blah, those two units still hold up more than well enough to win most games pretty comfortably, or at least to not force fans to check-in for a triple bypass.

Between Browning’s higher-than-normal interception rate (he’s currently on track to hit 13.7 INTs, his previous high being 11 in 2015 and his low being an absurdly defense-aiding five last year, with nine coming in his best season in 2016) and a kick coverage that’s frequently gifting opposing offenses many, many first downs worth of extra yardage, it’s who-shot-JR-levels of shocking that they’ve held up as well as they have, scoring defense-wise.

We know Washington’s defense can go all Whomping Willow on opposing offenses’ asses at least enough to give their own offense half-decent field position — even if their bend-don’t-break-iness instead of a focus on havoc rate means they’re rarely gonna pin someone at their own one yard line to give Jake and Co. an ensuing mere 40 yards between where they start and a sweet sweet six points. But by Lord it would be helpful if every kickoff that’s not a pooch or squib kick didn’t get returned to, like, the Washington three and a half yard line.

What sucks the most about this (which, really, nobody needs explaining about because it’s pretty obvious and, at this point, I’m mostly just writing this out to articulate it to myself) is that, with the kickoff coverage’s “invading Russia in the winter”-level effectiveness combined with the defense’s focus on efficiency over havoc (the latter of which I’m not complaining about, despite it being decidedly un-sexy), is that the Husky offense is then punished every time they succeed with terrible resulting field position — and that’s assuming they even get the ball back on a punt, instead of the opposing offense being able to use the short field to get some fat points.

With them having to do many 80 and 90 yard drives every game it’s no wonder the offense is underwhelming — or why the defense doesn’t look as dominant as we’re used to; when an opponent only has to go 30 yards to be in easy field goal range... Yeah...

Where I am going to blame the defense however is that, the last three or so weeks, they seem to have unlearned tackling and angles, apparently. I would classify that as somewhere between “moderately inconvenient if you want to win” and “a development that is certified fugly”; you can’t be a defense that creates little havoc and relies on limiting explosive plays if you don’t, ya know, seriously limit those plays.

Meh, still, whatever. I’d still rather have Washington’s defense than pretty much any in the country. It’d just be that much better if those out-of-character mistakes were cleaned up.

Also, because I’ve decided segues suck and I’m already late getting this thing out, here’s a bunch of thoughts in bullet-point format:

  • Ryan Bowman lives finally! No but, for real, it was reassuring seeing him make some noise after being almost invisible the previous seven weeks, even if against a Colorado offensive line that can at best be described as “inconsistent” or, at worst, “cherry cough syrup-gross.”

Which, by the way, reminds me that, despite Adam Jude’s characterization of the pass rushing personnel as “extremely thin,” that’s really not what their problem is at all — although the inside linebackers are exactly that, but that’s another story. There’s plenty of bodies with potential at outside linebacker even with Amandre Williams leaving — Bowman, Ngata, Tryon, Potoa’e (although, as a redshirt junior, the window where we can realistically expect to see him improve drastically is closing fast), Rice maybe (although the complete lack of production here leaves me thinking he’ll most likely not be much in the conversation going forward... or be the dude who explodes his senior year because life makes no sense and this is Chris Petersen we’re talking about). The edge rush’s lack of production isn’t due to them not having enough players, it’s due to them having a bunch of players with “potential” but little else currently.

Tangent, but if you want to talk about “thin,” look behind Greg Gaines and realize the only true NTs on Washington’s roster are two true freshmen after neither the 2016 nor 2017 classes had any (#UpYoursJohnnyNansen4StealingTuipulotuIn2017 #AmIRite?). Or that the inside linebackers had to move Bartlett to their position, and the two immediate backups to him and BBK — with DJ Beavers being injured and Brandon Wellington eased back into things after his knee injury in 2017 — are pretty clear weak links (sorry, I’m sure they’re good people, but...).

But I digress.

  • And now for a list of people whose futures I’m not not stoked about:
  • Levi Onwuzurike, who looks to slowly be progressing to “making quarterbacks poop their pants”-level of play. Not yet, but he’s getting there.
  • Ariel Ngata I think? To be fair, that might just be with how low our expectations are for the pass rush... But still, for a freshman he’s more than pulling his weight.
  • Keith Taylor. I’ve been saying this since last year at Rutgers. It still holds true. The end.
  • Also Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew are holding up way better than I thought they would — although that’s partially because my own expectations prior to this season were for them to hold up about as well as cottage cheese.
  • That being said, the Sean McGrew wildcat can die a terrible death of terribleness and terror. Or they could at least hand it off sometime to the sweep... There’s only one person who can keep the ball every snap and magic his way to success and that person was in a sweatshirt on Saturday.
  • I count myself among the (presumable) majority of people who’ve been somewhat irked by the fact that, against UCLA, ASU, CU, Utah, etc., the Dawgs couldn’t knock out their opponent when they had the chance and subsequently had to fight for the victory for much longer and much harder than a more finely-tuned team would. The thing that I’ve come to realize watching this season, though, is that, besides UCLA and Auburn, every single FBS team on Washington’s schedule so far is a much better version of themselves last year — even ASU, despite the fact that their record will likely stay the same from last year.

Sure, it’s a thousand percent lame to justify why ugly victories aren’t as bad as they seem or whatever, but 2018 Oregon beats 2017 Oregon probably 35 to 10. Today’s ASU beats last year’s ASU 30 to 13 at least. Today’s BYU destroys last year’s BYU 1,000,006 - 3. Colorado in 2018 is 31 - 21 over Colorado in 2017. The only FBS teams worse than their 2017 counterpart would be UCLA (completely thanks to Josh Rosen) and Auburn — yet Auburn’s still a massively more difficult task for 2018 Washington than their corresponding 2017 version: Buttgers.

That is to say: It still sucks. But... Perspective.

But also, if Washington doesn’t beat Cal 49-0, #FireSmith or whatever.

Lines of the Week

All of us, including me but especially including Chris Landon in our UWDP group chat after Chico’s fumble out of the end zone. Also most of the game minus the last, like, four minutes:

And this is verbatim what Myles Bryant was smack-talking to Steven Montez. This is 100% accurate I swear:

Oh, and then when Oregon lost and, for a moment, everything was perfect:

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