The offense actually had one of their best games of the season. They scored more points against Oregon’s stingy defense than any other team the Ducks have faced this season. Overall, offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan called a great game. Heading into this game, I think most Husky fans would have assumed that 31 points would be enough to beat Oregon at home. Along the same lines, if you knew that Salvon Ahmed would have 140 rushing yards or that Jacob Eason would throw for 289 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers, you’d probably really like the Huskies’ odds. Despite the loss and a tough second half, this isn’t on the offense. They did their job.
Salvon Ahmed had a great game. Washington actually ran the ball very well, especially when you consider that their second and third string running backs were out in this matchup. That left Ahmed, Kamari Pleasant, and true freshman Cameron Davis left to tote the rock, and sure enough Ahmed delivered to the tune of 140 yards on 24 carries, with an average of nearly 6 yards per carry. Conversely, Pleasant, who hasn’t seen that many snaps this season, didn’t have the best game. Davis had one carry for 7 yards.
More young players got involved. Marquis Spiker grabbed his first career catch. Cameron Davis played in his first game. Terrell Bynum lead the team in catches with six for 43 yards. Puka Nacua had another touchdown catch. Many fans have been clamoring to see this team use more of their young offensive weapons, and it appears that the coaching staff is finally in agreement. That said, Fuller was apparently banged up in this one and Chico McClatcher was knocked out of the game after getting bent in half (ouch), which gave more of the young guys an opportunity.
Peyton Henry is still perfect. He has yet to miss a field goal this season, hitting on all 15 attempts. I think many were hoping that he might have a shot at redemption in this game, or at least make a big impact in the ultimate outcome of the game. Well, he only got one shot in the third quarter, but he did nail it.
The pass rush was absent in this one. Washington didn’t register a sack and only had three tackles for a loss. Given that Oregon has one of the best offensive lines in the country, you would expect the pass rush to be somewhat limited, but the Dawgs needed more if they were going to pull off this win. Not that Justin Herbert had a great day, but he did have a lot of time in the pocket to make plays. Give credit to UW’s defensive backs for having a solid game (as far as coverage is concerned) and limiting Herbert’s options.
The second half run defense. They couldn’t get off blocks. They tackled poorly. The weakness of Washington’s inside linebackers and inexperience of their young defensive tackles was once against exposed as Oregon repeatedly ran the ball up the middle for big chunks of yards in the third and fourth quarters. Remarkably, Washington allowed less than 50 rushing yards in the first half, but caved late when it mattered most. I do want to give the defense a general nod of approval for the first half, especially when they forced Oregon to punt on four consecutive drives. That was great. It’s just unfortunate they couldn’t keep it up.
Mental mistakes and miscues. Trey Adam’s false start on the final drive of the game. Nick Harris’s high snap. Asa Turner’s late hit on Justin Herbert that gave their offense new life instead of a big loss. All of these plays negatively impacted the game for the Huskies, and combined really dealt a big blow to their chances of winning.
The wildcat without Richard Newton. Much has already been made of this by the media and fans, so I won’t beat it to death here. I’ll simply point out that it didn’t work any of the times that Washington ran it in this game, which makes you question why they ran it for a third time with Kamari Pleasant in a big moment. Pleasant is clearly not the playmaker that Newton is and the coaching staff’s stubbornness in continuing to call it is a head-scratcher.
Speaking of coaching criticism, the trick play in the endzone at the start of the game is on the coaching staff. Ultimately, it’s on them to know what is and is not legal. While there is apparently some grey area around this one, if there’s even some potential risk that a play isn’t legal, the coaching staff should know that and not call it.
Was that P.I. on Washington’s final play? Yes, it most certainly was. Does it matter? Not if the ref decides to not throw a flag. Of course that no-call had an impact on the game, but the outcome was still uncertain, even if the ref had called a penalty. To win, the Dawgs still needed to score a touchdown, which was far from a given. Also, other than a handful of extreme exceptions, games never actually come down to one call (or non-call) late in the game. Washington gave up a big lead late and put themselves in a situation where they had to fight back late in the fourth quarter. They didn’t get it done. Never bank on Pac-12 refs making the right call to help secure a win in crunch time.
What’s up with Ty Jones? He’s been healthy and practicing since the week leading up to the Stanford game. Reports are that Jones wants to redshirt this season, which would still leave him four games worth of playing time. Some thought that the Oregon game, given all that was on the line, would be when the 6’ 4” junior receiver would make his return to the field... Nope. Maybe we’ll see him suit up next week against Utah?