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Instant Reaction: All of Washington’s Goals Slip Away After Loss to Cal

The Huskies are in disaster control mode following yet another inexplicable loss.

NCAA Football: Washington at California D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

I posted earlier this week that I felt like something was going to happen this week whether it be an explosion or implosion for a Husky team that came into the week seemingly just treading water.

Judging by the utter loss of patience and composure by the Huskies coaching staff in the third quarter of this game, I’d say that the team clearly imploded.

The Huskies fell to Cal in an 12-10 abomination of a game.

The only way to describe this one is “ugly”. Cal outplayed the Huskies in just about every facet of the game to put themselves in a position to win the game. They kept UW pinned on their side of the field. They forced UW’s offense to play behind the sticks most of the night. They moved the ball at will between the twenties and owned the Time of Possession battle for much of the game.

The drama really came to a head in the third quarter when QB Jake Browning was benched in favor of back up Jake Haener. After a couple of nice handoffs, Haener bounced his first pass off the turf about two yards in front of WR Ty Jones on an out route. His second pass turned into a pick six by Cal linebacker (and former Spokane star) Evan Weaver on a play that handed the Bears their first lead of the game.

Haener would go on and stay in the game for another series, but the performance of the offense did not change. Haener’s inability to make progressions, poor pass blocking and the inability of receivers to get open all conspired to keep UW from moving the ball towards Cal’s goal line.

Browning was ultimately reinserted in the game around the 11 minute mark. A stalled drive followed by a short field drive earned after a brilliant Aaron Fuller punt return earned UW a three pointer (after a dropped Browning INT). But it wasn’t enough. UW’s defense, which didn’t allow an offensive touchdown, couldn’t cover the disaster that was happening on the other side of the ball.

Though most have sensed it for weeks, there is now no denying that that Washington is a lost team. The panic move by Petersen to bench Browning directly led to the final outcome of this game. One has to wonder what the lasting impact will be on both quarterbacks and what exactly the team will have to do in order to get the team’s focus back on a season that now looks destined to be competing for a second tier PAC 12 bowl.

Game Dots

  • This goes without saying, but the Rose Bowl is probably off the board for UW. With two conference losses - in both of their two North opponent games - the Huskies now are at the bottom of the tiebreaker chain for any multi-way ties. It will probably take a few weeks for Husky fans to digest the fact that they are now competing for the Alamo Bowl.
  • It should also be obvious that the Huskies will fall out of the rankings. Seeing Washington fall from a consensus Final Four favorite in the preseason to a mid-tier team in the NCAA’s worst power five conference is an embarrassment that will surely call into question the direction in which Chris Petersen is taking the program.
  • I was reminded of UW’s win over USC in 2015 while I was watching this shit show.
  • Greg Gaines was probably the best player on the field for UW today. With Cal refusing to double him in order to dedicate an offensive lineman to Ben Burr-Kirven, Gaines was creating havoc across the line. He finished with x tackles, 1.5 sacks and a TFL.
  • Levi Onwuzurike continues to surge as an interior d-lineman. The 290 lber has started to create a great deal of interior pocket pressure over the last few weeks. He was especially effective in the first half when he had a couple of tackles and forced an impressive sack. He had far fewer snaps in the second half, despite staying on the sideline all game in full uniform.
  • Another player flashing is DE Joe Tryon. His pass rushing was one of the factors that led to Chase Garbers getting pressure on his right side for much of the night.
  • Keith Taylor got some extended run in this game at Jordan Miller’s CB spot. The sophomore more than held his own and is yet another long, athletic DB for Husky fans to get excited about. There was a red zone play he defended in the first quarter where he was literally covering two Cal receivers in his zone ... and he made the play (with a little help from a poor Chase Garbers pass).
  • Oh, and hello Elijah Molden. He’s going to be a fantastic nickel back for UW.
  • The Huskies offensive line is in chaos. There were no good performances among the starters as Cal seemed to set up camp regularly behind the LOS often rushing just three or four out of their base. Henry Bainivalu took some snaps at left tackle. He definitely had his struggles. There were simply no answers.
  • Ty Jones looks more and more like Jermaine Kearse every week. He’s got the ability to make big plays all over the field, but it is always an adventure with his hands. Both were on display today.
  • It wasn’t a great night for Aaron Fuller. UW’s leading receiver was probably responsible for Browning’s first-half pick by not coming back for the ball and had a couple of drops. He seemed to really respond poorly to Cal’s physical coverage over him.