Hello fellow plebeians, let’s talk about what was simultaneously the least stressful Utah game of the last four years while somehow still being just as stressful as the last four years’ worth of Utah games. (Also I’d like the world to know that I just spelled “plebeians” right on the first try. Like, don’t wanna make any bold statements but that definitely means there should be a statue in my name now. Or that I just peaked. Or that I’m hella qualified to write political speeches for Belorussian dictators. Or all three, who knows.)
An 88% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Everything
Anyways, where do we start? How about with the defense and special teams, since usually I leave those guys to the end like they’re one of the forgotten Weasley siblings.
Regarding special teams... Listen. Punters are the bomb. As far as I care, the Huskies should have a team of just 85 scholarship punters, gall darn it, plus maybe 10-ish walk-on 0-tech defensive linemen. A punter doesn’t even have to be any good for me to love them — you could have the efficacy of boiled carrots but, if you’re a punter, I’d still wear your jersey (or would, were I the type of person to wear football jerseys belonging to people not named Patrick Kerney).
In other words, I love Race Porter on principle. But... Anyone who shanks a punt from the red zone so that the opponent gets the ball on the 30 yard line... I still technically love them... But would just prefer to love them while they’re on the sideline because my team has a real-life Australian instead.
That being said, I’m still a fan (kinda in the same way I was Tristan Vizcaino’s biggest fan last year) and I don’t know why and also please can we have an Australian back? It doesn’t even have to be our Australian, Petersen could just mosey on up to Whistler and he’ll have his pick of thousands. Sure, they’ll be drunk on Kokanee and some mystery alcohol from beneath their sink, but I’m sure whomever Pete picks would sober up by the time the drive to Seattle was over.
On to the defense, which a certain Mr. Jacob Sebastian* Browning owes a big ol’ thank you.
First-of-ly where the defense is concerned, has anyone checked to make sure Britain Covey’s still alive? Frankly, I’m surprised he still had all of his arms and legs by the time the game was over. Actually, did he have all his limbs intact? Have we confirmed?
That is to say: I don’t envy anyone running crossing routes and the like against this secondary.
Although, while we’re on the subject, Covey doesn’t get the love he deserves from non-Utah media. I felt this in 2015 and I feel it still — Britain Covey’s on that Bryce Love, Christian McCaffrey, Trace McSorley-level of “making opposing fans aware of muscles they didn’t even know they had because every time he touches the ball said muscle groupings involuntary tense up our of stress and then need to be manually un-tensed with a pipe wrench.” That dude is stupid-impossible to pin down. I hate it.
Oh, and Byron Murphy’s still about as welcome a sight to receivers as shower mildew.
to plagiarize John Cleese’s words for something completely different: to the offense, where I’ll begin with some trademark Gabey-style humility:
Namely, BOOM I was right motherf*^&%$:
...there’s legitimately nothing that could make me worried about the run game. That’s because, since Gaskin and Co.’s been around, it’s a tradition at this point — the first few games of the year, Washington fans lose their collective minds over a run game that’s looked spectacularly mediocre, convinced that it will never ever be dependable as long as we live, then October comes around and we’re reminded that, actually, the Husky run game is fine (still); then it continues to steadily kick more and more ass, then the season ends; then the next season begins, the run game’s nothing special, we all freak out... wash, rinse, repeat.
Myles Gaskin’s final yards carry by the end of the game was around 4.8, so pretty average, but there was a noticeable drop-off in even remotely viable running lanes after Nick Harris was brought out (more on that later); I’d like to see the stats from before the offensive line had three subs in so we can be privy to what the YPC was when the offensive line was only partially terrible (again, more on that later). Whatever.
Anyways, all you had to do was A) have basic eyesight and B) basic human brain-processing functions to see that Myles Gaskin’s still got it. I say this just in case you were participating in a study wherein the government, or Amazon, or Whole Foods or whoever gives you this new cuh-razy psychoactive drug that makes you think, in fact, that a certain Myles Gaskin doesn’t, indeed, “got it.”
Speaking of the running game — and again, I don’t know the statistics on this — but I’m
ready to drink this ready-made mixture of aquavit, Hanford sludge, and orange Tang about how we’re not seeing very much play-action kind of sad we’re not seeing as much play-action as last year. This begs the question, what ever happened to the Tang chimp? Also, where in the world has the play-action gone? Did it just scamper away to go chill with Carmen Sandiego? Which, by the way, did we figure out where she was?
Okay, focus. Enough San Diego talk.
But for real, there was a series in what I believe was the third quarter where the Dawgs ran what must’ve been seven or eight run plays in a row. If you’re like me, you were watching that, tenting your fingers and muttering “excellent” under your breath Mr. Burns-style, anticipating the bootleg play-action 40 yard bomb that was bound to come. And then it just... never happened. Which was, at best, strange. And, at worst, a real dumb dumb thing to not capitalize on.
For all the criticisms of Jake Browning — some warranted, some not, and some over-exaggerated — his play-action game fools flippin’ everybody. Fools fools, if you will.
Granted, I’m no coach, but it seems silly to not capitalize on that and instead try to do three screen plays in a row when each previous one clearly was as effective as a rusty spork. I’ve approved of by far the majority of Bush Hamdan’s calls but, usually, you’d think someone with an IQ of above, oh, six, would think “Gee, that went about as poorly as it could, let’s definitely not do that thing again” instead of “Remember how 13 seconds ago we just did two screens that were about as successful as invading Russia in the winter? Well how about — hear me out — we do that exact same thing a third time.”
This is all the more true in a red zone situation like the one Washington found themselves in, where they lost at least three points and likely seven.
Which brings us to the O-line.
Which... Nick Harris didn’t have a good game even before being pulled out. And yet. Still. He’s so much better than the guys behind him. The center depth situation is — and this is the scientific term for it — ass, my dude.
On the plus side, even though a lot of us are freaking out about our offensive line — and I’m not particularly happy with them either — we still should remember, they just went up against two of the best pass rushes in the country and didn’t totally shit the bed. Honestly, they’ve performed way better than last year’s would have.
And lastly, to everybody’s favorite topic: Jake Browning.
It’s unfortunate that up until what I’ll politely refer to as “that throw that shouldn’t have happened” (you know the one), he was playing really well given the circumstances — his trademark Russel Wilson-Lite running backwards was only on display during Hamdan’s 13 million screen passes, during which Jake back-peddled by design because that was his job, he stared down pressure multiple times and was delivering well-timed throws, and, for a second, I and probably lots of you were thinking “Great. This is great. Everything’s gonna be great forever. Nothing could make this not great.”
And then that Certified Stupidest Interception in the History of Everything™ happened, and that’s what ended up burned into Husky fans’ retinas. Ooph.
If you want to be an optimist, though, here’s this: Washington just got the two best pass-rushes of their season over with. Oregon’s is sneaky good, and Stanford’s, while a relative “down” year for the unit, is still always miles above average, but Utah’s and Auburn’s pass-rush are different animals and now Browning and the still-figuring-their-crap-out offensive line won’t have to deal with them aaaaaaall year.
With all this in mind, the primary reactions I saw online from both Ute and Husky fans was borderline histrionic, post-game “burn the program down” responses from both teams. This one Redditor has a good reminder for all of us to keep the Utah-Washington battle in perspective:
*If this is actually Browning’s middle name somebody owes me money. Or food. Don’t know who, but I just think if you guess someone’s middle name then some reward should be incoming. Pretty sure that’s in the Bible or something.
Lines of the Week
And now for that time where we dumb down football into gifs because this is America gall dang it and according to Amendment Somethingth this is our right.
Me and probably you being petty and spiteful about Utah having their Certified Ass-Kicking Australian Punter while Washington has to use The Peasants’ Punter (an American) because our Australian is out of commission:
Meanwhile, Britain Covey post-game:
Jake Browning when he was playing good and doing other stuff good, too:
And then there’s us, on the other hand, when Jake went on and made that ill-advised throw. You know the one.
But luckily, we’ve obtained exclusive footage of Washington’s defense to Jake Browning re: how they
and a Utah receiver with spatulas for hands are solely responsible for Utah coming away with 0 points on that possession starting at the 6 yard line:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.