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

There was a lot of good in Washington’s dominant win over BYU.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Jake Browning played a nearly perfect game. On Saturday night, Jake completed 23 out of 25 passes and threw for 277 yards. That’s good for 11.1 yards per pass and a 92% completion rating, just shy of the single-game record in Husky football history. He was so on his game that one of his two incompletions, a ball that was dropped in the end zone by two Husky receivers, was actually one of his better passes on the night. However, Jake did become Washington’s official all-time leader in passing yards. Also, he now has 100 total touchdowns in his Husky career after throwing for one and rushing for another on Saturday.

Jake was surgical throughout the night. He was always able to find the open man, place balls accurately, and his passes seemed to have more zip on them than usual. It may very well have been his most complete game as a Husky. Of course, a major reason Jake was able to have such a great game was that he had all day and night to throw the ball. Which leads us to how...

The offensive line was dominant. Thanks to the big fellas up front, Jake had a clean pocket to throw from all game and was given all the time he needed to execute. There was even a QB sneak where Jake got 4 yards; that might not seem like a lot, but that also doesn’t really happen on QB sneaks. Like, ever. These guys mowed over the BYU defensive line. It’s obvious, but the importance of allowing Browning to work through his progression and reads is a boon for this offense.

Not only did the offensive line protect their QB, but they also opened up huge running lanes and excelled at run blocking for stretch plays that ran off tackle. The Huskies piled up 187 yards on the ground, with Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin getting 80+ yards each (unrelated to the offensive line, but I’m loving what I’m seeing from Kamari Pleasant in limited PT). Aside from a few holding penalties and one sack allowed, this was a dominant performance by the Huskies’ offensive line. I want to give an especially big shoutout to Jaxson Kirkland, who has been playing extremely well as a redshirt freshman. He had several clutch blocks in this game that sprung Husky running backs for some of their longer runs.

Our tight ends are very good. Whether its key blocks from Drew Sample and Cade Otton on the pass out Chico McClatcher for a ~20 yard gain, or Sample’s 15-yard touchdown reception, these two guys can really play. They’ve both proven to be reliable pass catchers this season, and are also excelling at the dirty work that makes good tight ends such a valuable commodity in this offense. And to think, Hunter Bryant hasn’t even played a snap (yet!) this season.

The defense played lights out! If it wasn’t for the muffed punt in the final minutes of the game (we’ll get to that in a second), this would have been a shutout. The Dawgs held No. 20 BYU to their lowest points scored, lowest rushing yards, and lowest total yards on the season. The rushing yards allowed stands out at 34 rushing yards on 21 attempts for 1.2 yards per carry. WOOF!

There are so many great individual efforts on this defense every game, it’s sometimes hard to cover them all and not just talk about the success of the unit as a whole. For example, it’s great to walk away from a game and see four different Huskies with six or more tackles on the stats sheet. That points to the collective effort that this defense puts forth game after game. But that said, how freakin’ good is Myles Bryant? He had a hell of a game with 7 total tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and one sack. Speaking of DBs getting sacks, Taylor Rapp had another this game, making him the leader on the team with 4. Given that the Huskies don’t currently have a dominant pass rusher off the edge or on the interior of their defensive line (they’re 93rd nationally in team sacks with 8), it’s been cool to see how effective Jimmy Lake has been in dialing up DB blitzes.

Also, if we’re focusing on position groups, middle linebackers Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett both had really solid games. Bartlett has really started to come on since the coaching staff has settled him in as a middle linebacker and are no longer switching him from inside to outside, as was done earlier in the season. Of course, what helps make those two good at their job is the work guys like Greg Gaines and Levi Onwuzurike do up front on the line. Onwuzurike did a notably good job filling in for the injured Shane Bowman, who will be out for the next six weeks with a broken foot.

The Bad

There wasn’t a ton of negative stuff to focus on in this game without being really nitpicky. The Huskies deserve praise for a dominant win over a good opponent. That said, I’ll cover three things quickly here.

Peyton Henry missed two field goals. Yeah, that’s not great. The first one would have been a 40-yarder, which would have been his longest field goal of the season has he made it—but he didn’t. Until his second kick, Henry had only missed two field goals, both of which were from 40+ yards out. Then he missed a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. He’s a redshirt freshman kicker who’s still figuring things out. If he’s going to miss two field goals in a game, I’m glad it was this one. But after some good kicking last week, he unfortunately seems to have taken a step back in his consistency.

Kaleb McGary had three holding penalties. One of them was questionable, but he clearly needs to clean that up. He has the potential to be an early-round NFL draft pick after this season. He’s better than that.

Chico McClatcher’s muffed punt. It wasn’t great and set up BYU for their only scoring drive right at the end of the game, helping to blow the defense’s shutout. But kind of like Peyton Henry’s two missed field goals, if it had to happen in a game, I’m glad it was this one. Anyway, Coach Pete coaches the kick and punt returners himself, so no doubt he’ll continue to work on this with Chico. That and maybe he just leaves our primary punt returner Fuller in all game moving forward. It’s good to get others reps, though, so maybe we see Gaskin out there next time.

The Unknown

The question of where UW will get a consistent pass rush remains unanswered. While they’ve had success getting their DBs into the backfield (6 of the team’s 8), their rush ends have been notably absent from the sacks stat column. Benning Potoa’e has done excellent work this season helping to set the edge on defense, but hasn’t recorded a sack yet. Ryan Bowman, who led the team in sacks last year, still doesn’t have a sack yet five games in. A good pass rush could be the difference in a big game, like against Stanford and A.J. Costello. He can be dangerous if you allow him to set his feet and give him time to throw, but really struggles when you force him out of the pocket. We’ve been seeing more of Ariel Ngata in pass rushing situations this season, so hopefully that starts to pay dividends at some point soon.

Can the Huskies get their first win at the Rose Bowl in 24 years? That’s right, the Huskies haven’t won a game in Pasadena since 1995. Interestingly, Coach Pete has never coached a game at the Rose Bowl. Defensive coaches Jimmy Lake and Pete Kwiatkowski have never even been to the Rose Bowl, let alone coached in it. Also, not a single player on the Huskies’ roster has played a game at the Rose Bowl. It seems like the UW has been breaking a lot of losing streaks like this in the past few years, and facing an 0-4 Bruins team seems like the perfect opportunity to capitalize on a road win.