1. The Huskies Have a Pair of Real Nice Tight Ends
This is somewhat a combination of the ASU and BYU games but the tight end position has really improved over the last two weeks. The Huskies love to use multiple tight end sets and that tendency has only increased as Cade Otton has clearly won the #2 TE job. Here is the percentage of times using at least 2 TEs by game starting with Auburn: 31.1%, 34.6%, 42.7%, 55.6%, 64.6%.
Every single game the Huskies have increased their dependency on using multiple TEs and it may not be a surprise that the offense has looked better the past two games when they crossed the 50% threshold. Browning targeted either Sample or Otton just 10 times in the first three games and went 7/10 for 52 yards with 1 TD and an interception. He has gone to them 9 times in the last 2 games and been 9/9 for 101 yards with 2 TDs (Baccellia targeted Otton on his interception on the double pass but that was just a terrible decision on his part).
There was a great deal of concern with the graduation of Will Dissly and injury to Hunter Bryant about the TE position and specifically that 2nd TE spot. Cade Otton has definitely shown that he can hold down the fort there. And next year the future still looks bright at the position with Otton plus Bryant with Kizer and Culp also in the fold.
2. The UW Special Teams Group is Accurately Named
Washington has the 2nd ranked defense in the country according to S&P+. They have the 26th ranked offense. And they have the 112th ranked Special Teams. One of these things is not like the other.
I responded to a commenter before the ASU game about whether our kicking game was better this season than last year. And I said that we didn’t have enough evidence given that Peyton Henry’s only make beyond 30 yards hit the post but luckily went in. I think we can now say that it is just as woeful after an 0/2 performance against BYU. Henry’s long on the year is still the 31-yarder that made it by inches and he’s no longer perfect from inside of 30 yards. At least he is 18/18 on extra points.
We knew there would be a severe drop off on the punt return unit after the departure of Dante Pettis but that Chico McClatcher muffed fair catch was brutal. You can be all but certain that he won’t be put in that position again this season and it’ll be all Aaron Fuller barring injury. Fuller has been fine in that role but 5.5 yards per return doesn’t add much.
Meanwhile opponents have averaged a little over 15 yards per punt return against the Dawgs. That number should go down with the return of Joel Whitford who didn’t allow a return on his only punt of the night but the kick and punt coverage units have not been the strength that they usually are for the Huskies.
3. Just Call Him Jake “Tom Brady” Browning
One of the areas of concern for the Husky offense was their inability to convert in short yardage situations early in the season. Washington went just 12/20 in converting when facing an and-1 or and-2 amount of yardage through the Utah game. They have since converted all 10 attempts which included 3/3 on QB sneaks by Jake Browning against BYU. Part of that change is going away from the 3 TE set with Justiss Warren in at FB. The Dawgs only converted on half of their attempts in that situation and have stayed away from the formation since the North Dakota game.
He also did a pretty darn good Brady impersonation with his arm too. The Huskies had a 70% success rate when they threw the ball. Browning averaged 9.8 yards per play which includes the -13 yards from the intentional grounding on the 1st drive which there was basically no way for him to avoid. Take that out and it goes up to 10.7 yards per play. I personally guarantee that if the Huskies average at least 10 yards per passing play with 0 turnovers on offense in every game from here on out that they will win the national title. But something tells me that’s unlikely to happen.