Woof. What did we just watch?
The following numbers should paint the picture. Stanford’s time of possession was twice Washington’s, 39:01 to 20:59. Stanford ran 74 offensive plays to Washington’s 58. Stanford amassed 482 yards of total offense, a season high, compared to Washington’s 294. Stanford also collected the game’s only turnover. Again, woof.
Stanford seemed to control this game from the get go. On their opening drive, Stanford QB Davis Mills led an 11 play, 80-yard drive ending in a field goal to give the Cardinal an early 3-0 lead. Washington responded with their best drive of the game, going 75-yards in 10 plays capped off by a Jacob Eason 3-yard touchdown pass to TE Cade Otton. Stanford in turn responded with another drive that ended in a field goal, followed by a Washington punt. It was Stanford’s third possession when things really started to take a turn for the worst for the Huskies. On the fourth play of the drive, Mills threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Simi Fehoko (blown coverage by Keith Taylor) to put the Cardinal up 13-7. Washington was able to respond with a field goal before going into the half down 13-10.
The Huskies started the second half with the ball and things were looking promising. On the first two plays the Huskies stacked together a 35-yard pass to Aaron Fuller, followed by a 19-yard run from Richard Newton. This made it 1st and 10 at the Stanford 21-yard line. Fast forward three plays and the Huskies are at Stanford’s 13-yard line facing 4th and 2. Down by just 3-points early in the 3rd quarter, Coach Petersen made the call to go for it. Eason’s pass fell incomplete. The red zone has not been good to this team.
Washington was only able to manage one more scoring drive that ended in a field goal for the rest of the game. Their final three offensive possessions seemed feeble and desperate. Eason threw a pick in Washington territory early in the 4th quarter (Fuller tripped), followed by a disastrous 8-play drive that amounted to 13 yards and a punt, and a hopeless final four plays with less than a minute to go. Meanwhile, Stanford controlled the clock and added a touchdown in the 3rd quarter and another field goal in the 4th quarter (after Eason’s interception), leading to their 23-13 win.
Hats off to Stanford, as the Cardinal had a clear game plan that the Huskies played right into. Mills, Stanford’s backup QB, played a good game by completing 21/30 passes with 293 yards in the air and a touchdown. He was elusive in the pocket and was able to escape blitzing Huskies on multiple occasions and find open receivers on the run. RB Cameron Scarlett also had a good game for Stanford, running for 151 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries. Notably, he was able to convert two third down runs late in the game that effectively ended any hope of a Huskies’ comeback.
A quick note on injuries, Mills didn’t actually finish the game. During the third quarter he was taken into the medical tent and emerged with a taped up ankle. Third string sophomore QB Jack West played the entirety of the 4th quarter for Stanford and didn’t throw a single pass. They didn’t need to. For Washington, the Huskies leading rusher on the day wasn’t able to finish the game, as Richard Newton suffered what appeared to be a lower leg injury and had to be helped off the field before being carted away. He had 10 carries for 64 yards.
What went wrong for Washington? Defensively, the Huskies weren’t able to get much pressure on Mills throughout the game. This is very disappointing, considering that Stanford’s offensive line was down to just 6 scholarship players by the end of the game (due to injuries), including multiple freshman. Offensively, Richard Newton seemed to be the only weapon that was working well against Stanford. Once he left the game, the offense wasn’t able to do much. Salvon Ahmed had just 6 carries for 28 yards. After starting out 5/5, Eason ended the night completing just 16/36 passes for 206-yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He looked lost in the pocket at times and made a series of poor decisions throughout the game.
Speaking of the passing game, despite Fuller’s impressive stat line of 171 yards on 9 catches, once again Washington’s wide receivers did not look impressive. Both Fuller and Andre Bacellia had more drops. Hunter Bryant wasn’t able to haul in some catchable passes either. Do you hear that? It’s more Husky fans beating the drums for the younger wide receivers. Those drums are sure to be louder than ever after this game.
The Washington coaching staff will need to take a long, hard look in the mirror after this one. After the unsuccessful opening drive to start the second half, there didn’t appear to be much adjustment made on either side of the ball for Washington. Peterson’s decision to go for it on 4th and 2 early in the 3rd quarter will certainly be criticized, however, that field goal alone would not have changed the ultimate outcome. Finally, while criticizing offensive play calling is usually cheap and pointless, there are some legitimate issues to take with Washington’s offensive game plan, and especially so in the second half.
We can leave it there for now. This was a tough one to sit through and we don’t need to beat ourselves over the head with it too much right away. We have all of next week to do that on the blog, so stay tuned for our further analysis of this disappointing loss to Stanford.