The Huskies lost a tough matchup with Auburn on Saturday, falling 21-16 in Atlanta. The Huskies’ playoff hopes are not dead but they are diminished. Most Huskies fans are still clamoring for their signature win on a big stage that they can point to and say, “we’ve arrived.” Despite all that, plenty of Huskies shined on Saturday, so let’s get to the game awards.
Huskies Game Award, Offense: Aaron Fuller
The junior receiver from McKinney, Texas received rave reviews this off-season. Jake Browning said Fuller was the MVP of the summer, the local media reported that he was the top performer in fall camp and was anointed as the heir apparent to the number one receiver position after Dante Pettis’s graduation. However, it was mostly talk going into Saturday’s matchup with Auburn. It was time for Fuller to go out and prove it, and that he did by and large on Saturday. He finished the game with seven receptions for 135 yards, and put together a handful of acrobatic receptions. It wasn’t a flawless performance by the junior; he dropped a pass on 1st and 10 with a little over three minutes left that went that would’ve put the Huskies on the outside of Auburn’s red zone at the very least. To be fair to Fuller, the pass was a bit high, as Browning had late pressure in his face, and it would’ve been an impressive catch. Still, it was one that the Huskies needed late in the game. Still, Fuller showed his ability to get open consistently against an athletic (if inexperienced) secondary, and lived up to the pre-season hype. It’s important not to get too carried away with just one performance, but considering that he put together such an impressive stat line on a big stage against a high-level opponent, it’s fair to think Fuller is poised to have a big season for the Huskies this year.
Huskies Game Award, Defense: Jaylen Johnson
One of the biggest questions for the Huskies defense heading into this season was how they would replace Vita Vea, arguably the greatest defensive lineman in program history. (Yes, I know who Steve Emtman is. No, I’m not saying Vea is better than him, nor vice versa. I don’t know the answer as I was too young to watch Emtman play. Just trying to point out how good Vea was.) The two players who many fans expect to pick up the slack for Vea are seniors Greg Gaines and Jaylen Johnson, and both performed well Saturday. However, I give the nod to Johnson over Gaines, as he finished with seven tackles, four of which were solo. His quickness really flashed on a few plays while disrupting the run. The runner up for me here was Ben Burr-Kirven, who finished with a team high 13 tackles, four of which were solo.
Huskies Game Award, Special Teams: Peyton Henry
Look, I get it; this wasn’t a perfect performance by Henry. He badly missed a 40-yard field goal, and banked in a 30-yard field goal off the upright which could’ve just as easily missed. Still, Henry deserves credit for hitting three of his four attempt, even if all of his makes were from 31 yards or closer. Why? Because even short field goals were an adventure for the Huskies last season, and his makes kept the Huskies in the game when the offense failed to produce touchdowns. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Henry earned this award in somewhat of a “by default” fashion. The Huskies had neither a kick return or a punt return in this game, and their punt and kick coverage were largely forgettable for most of the afternoon.