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Triumph in Tucson: Arizona Instant Reactions

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The defense lead the way in the first half, and the offense’s huge second half gives the Dawgs a blowout.

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Washington bounced back this week in a big way with a 51-27 victory over the Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon. Defense and special teams lead the way for the first half, before the offense woke up and poured 38 on the Arizona defense in the second half.

There were multiple opportunities for the Huskies to make it less of a game in the first, but they couldn’t take advantage. In fact, the defense outscored the offense, 7-6 in the first two quarters. They blocked a punt and recovered a muffed return attempt, but could only turn those chances into field goals. The pass game looked out of sync, but it was clear the coaches were committed to the run early. After one quarter, it was all defense and special teams as Washington led 6-0.

Arizona started getting back into the game in the 2nd quarter, scoring 17 points as the Husky offense continued to stall out. The only points were off a Brandon Wellington scoop and score - his second the of season. Keith Taylor had a bad missed tackle on 3rd down and Elijah Molden got turned around in coverage and gave up a TD pass. Other than that, the defense was playing great, getting pressure on Tate and covering well downfield. The teams went into half time with Arizona leading 17-13.

The third quarter is when the Husky offense began to wake up, Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Jacon Eason found Puka Nacua for 28 yards on Washington’s first play from scrimmage. UW eventually found themselves in the red zone and Jacon Eason hit walk-on TE Jack Westover for a touchdown. He was lined up as a full back on that play and it was his first career reception. The teams then traded punts before a Myles Bryant forced fumble led to a Washington TD six plays later, putting the Huskies up 27-17. An Arizona field goal made it 27-20 to start the fourth quarter.

With a touchdown lead and the ball to start the fourth, the Huskies needed to score to put the game away and did just that. It only took four plays, including a 39 yard strike to Jordan Chin of all people, to reach the end zone. Aaron Fuller got separation and Jacob Eason dropped a dime right over this shoulder - touchdown Washington. The Husky defense forced another punt and scored on their next drive - but this time it was Puka Nacua providing the big play on a 48 yard completion. Three plays later, Salvon Ahmed waltzed into the end zone. From, there a Tate interception from Ryan Bowman lead to a Husky field goal, making it 44-20 Dawgs.

Arizona finally scored again after some poor tackling from the Huskies late in the fourth quarter but the Dawgs answered right back, running the ball right down the field to make it 51-27. Both teams bled the clock to end the game and the Huskies leave Tuscon with a 3 touchdown victory.

Instant Dots

  • The dark cloud hanging over this victory is the status of linebacker MJ Tafisi, who suffered what appears to be a serious head/neck injury. He was carted off the field and it did not look good. However, this is optimistic:

  • Jack Westover baby! The walk-on TE had a TD catch in the red zone, and contributed with some nice blocking to get Ahmed into the end zone for another TD.

  • Shoutout to the defensive line and outside linebackers in this game. They made life very difficult for Khalil Tate who was flushed from the pocket time and time again. Ryan Bowman and Joe Tryon stood out in particular.

  • Myles Bryant showed off his versatility in this game too. He missed a couple tackles but his blitzes were timed perfectly and he was in Tate’s face on a number of occasions.

  • Welcome Puka Nacu! It was a relief to finally see the talented freshman get targeted, and he delivered: 3 catches for 97 yards including a beautiful leaping catch over a defender for 47 yards. He got high in the air to make a grab over his defenders back, and was still able to come down on his feet and break a tackle. That came on a 3rd and 6 late in the game, leading to a Husky TD on the drive. He is probably the best WR on the team already.

  • Ahmed had three touchdowns, even when he wasn’t generating tons of yardage on the ground. Sean McGrew picked up the slack and had a really nice game himself. Things seem to be slowing down for him more and more this year.

  • Huge props to the defense in general tonight. They played with a ton of energy and passion, leading the way for the entire team. They held a dangerous rushing attack to just 151 yards total and 3.9 YPC.

  • Asa Turner got the start in place of Cam Williams and early on was all over the field making plays. He had a couple missed tackles as the game wore, including late on an Arizona TD run, but you can see how talented he is and what a player he’ll become.

  • It’s hard to fault the offensive line when the team scores 51, but there were multiple short yardage situations where they failed to get any push in the run game.

  • The Huskies generated 450 yards of total offense including 243 passing and 203 (4.6 YPC) rushing - nice and balanced. However, they were 3-13 on 3rd downs and are still not convincing enough in the red zone.

  • Jacob Eason finished 15/22 with two touchdowns. He looked good. Khalil Tate meanwhile was 13/25 for 184 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He didn’t have any meaningful rushing plays.

  • Peyton Henry still has not missed a field goal this year and is now 13/13. Joel Whitford had an excellent game punting as well, hitting his career long with a nice 67 yarder.

  • Let me be the first to admit I read this game totally wrong. There are still some questions to be asked, but I had this as a 24-20 loss. This is the first time since Cal in 2016 that UW has put up 50+ on a Power 5 team. So tonight, I dine on crow. Nay, I feast! It was also Washington’s first win in their last 10 when trailing at halftime.

  • The Huskies face an even bigger test next week against Oregon.