Hi, I’m First Half Washington, and I chug lard.
And I’m Second Half Washington, and I kill serially and get away with it.
A 100% Accurate and 72% Sober Rundown of Absolutely Everything
First and foremost, let’s give some love to the one young guy everyone’s been clamoring for since before the season even began: I’m speaking, of course, about Matteo Mele.
Kidding, obviously, since nobody but the biggest dorks nerd out about the offensive line, but real talk — Mele held up really well in his first career start, as did Henry Bainivalu for the most part after quickly filling in for a Jaxson Kirkland injury. This doesn’t really tell us much for this year, but it’s worth taking a mental note that, despite losing three starters to begin next season, Washington’s offensive line could look quite good in 2020. Considering their likely roster — Luke Wattenberg (alright but inconsistent), Jaxson Kirkland (probably wanted for murder), Mele and Bainivalu (are we in love with them? It’s sure looking like we might be), and a fifth player (Victor Curne or MJ Ale, perhaps?) from an increasingly talented player pool, UW’s 2020 line could actually be in quite good shape despite losing 60% of its starters.
Now onto the freshman that people had been actually drooling over, Puka.
I’m pretty sure all of us were increasingly on the #FreePuka train, with the most zealous believers having an intensity rivaled only by “People who are pissed that movie-Ginny was a lame-o when book-Ginny was 100% Certified Badass*” and “Angry hippos.”
More importantly than the fact that Pooks was the leading receiver in yardage from three catches is the timing of his emergence which, honestly, could not be better. With Oregon and their secondary waiting, there’s no doubt in my mind that Washington’s offense wouldn’t stand a chance passing with Andre Baccellia and Aaron Fuller as primary targets. If there’s two who I do trust against stronger defensive backs, it’s a combination of Puka and Hunter Bryant, which then compounds to make especially Fuller and to an extent Baccellia more useful without so much focus on them. But I digress.
Further for the offense, I found Washington’s blocking outside the tackles really impressive especially considering that’s where Arizona thrives as a defense. I’ve mentioned it before, but Hunter Bryant’s blocking this year has improved — and this is the scientific term for it — a metric crudload.
And, in the running game, that fourth down that was stopped and the few other short yardage misses were places where Richard Newton and the wildcat would make a great band name. No, wait, I mean, that’s where Richard Newton and the wildcat would have converted at least some, likely most, and possibly all of those situations. But Richard Newton and The Wildcat is 100% a good band name. Also, children’s book title.
That being said, even without Newton, Ahmed and McGrew were and are great. The end.
And before we all dismiss the second half offensive explosion as a result of Arizona’s defense being poop: if you read my defensive preview you’d find that — to my surprise, too — the Wildcats’ defense so far this year isn’t actually total garbage despite their garbage-like tendencies of seasons past. Will they ever be mistaken for Bama? Umm, no, but week zero notwithstanding, they’d been holding FBS opponents to just under 21 points. While I’m not gonna overreact to the Dawgs’ offense putting it together in the second half, it’s not like they scored 38 second half points against complete turnstiles.
On to the defense, who decided to be great, then terrible, then great again. Then terrible for an inconsequential atomic minute that was, luckily enough, in garbage time.
The terrible: more grody tackling, including multiple plays that should have been stopped for little to no gain, plus Arizona’s last touchdown where at least four missed tackles graced our TV screens.
The not terrible: well, the outside linebackers and line decided they were in a murder-y mood. Personally, I thought it was especially reassuring to see Joe Tryon with the sack and general pressure considering his slow start this year when he showed so much promise at last year’s end. Similarly, Ryan Bowman’s increased presence — nay, bullying — was delightful. Ironically, he was much more statistically present — interception notwithstanding — against Stanford than Arizona, but there was a lot of havoc statistically attributed to others that he directly helped initiate. (See: Khalil Tate’s fumble/moronic attempt to throw the ball away, which would have otherwise counted as another sack for Bowman had Tate just taken it.)
But lest we forget Bowman’s most important contribution to the fullness of our hearts, I’d like to personally thank him for bringing us the joy of watching a frighteningly large human intercept a football. Last year we were blessed by Greg Gaines and there is literally** nothing that makes me happier than seeing this phenomenon repeated.
In general on the defensive side, it felt like the liberal rotation of some younger guys was a nice change up even if they were, naturally, imperfect. Off the top of my head this included ZTF, Laiatu Latu, and, most notably, Asa Turner. Which, speaking of: holy Christ, Batman, once Turner grows into a full human... he might literally*** crush someone into oblivion. As it stands now, he had a few missed tackles but, crucially, he seemed to almost always be in the right place and be one of the first to diagnose any given play. Once that dude bulks up, I’m pretty sure he’ll need a hunting license just to exist.
So, that’s fun.
*For real, in the books Ginny was the coolest. I’m not an international lawyer but the butchering of her character by the writers of the Harry Potter movies is hella a war crime.
**But like, not literally
Lines of the Week
All of us when it turned out Puka Nacua ruled just as much as we had hoped:
Ryan Bowman’s interception:
Washington’s performance for the first half...
...vs Washington when the second half happened and they remembered they can unload a barrage that would’ve leveled Dresden:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.