This was Jacob Eason not at his best, though he was far from the biggest problem on offense Saturday night. He completed less than 50% of his passes, but he had to endure multiple drops from receivers and tight ends. His issue this game was standing in the pocket too long and not finding answers down field, or bailing early when he had protection. He found Aaron Fuller on a few nice throws, including a 37 yarder, but was largely ineffective beyond that, throwing for less than 6 yards an attempt.
Running Back: B-
This was probably the best unit on the field for the Huskies, so naturally in a game like this the starter would only get 6 touches and the backup and would suffer a serious injury. Salvon Ahmed wasn’t breaking off explosive runs left and right but was good enough. However, we will never know whether he could have saved the day with a huge run as he only got a measly six carries. Richard Newton was looking like the best player on offense with his hard running, but suffered what looks like a somewhat serious injury.
Wide Receiver: D-
Should just call this position “the Aaron Fullers” as he was the only WR to be given any chances on Saturday night. To his credit he did beat his man and make a few nice catches but yet again made errors in key moments - missed blocks and dropped passes namely. He was targeted a whopping 17 times on Saturday, and caught 9 passes for 171 yards. Both were career highs and he gets some credit for being the only receiver to get open with a little regularity, but as a senior who gets all the opportunities in this offense, he needs to do more. No other receiver made any sort of impact.
Tight End: C-
Hunter Bryant had his worst game of the season against Stanford, with just a single catch for 8 yards. The usually strong handed #1 had multiple bad drops including one in the red zone. Cade Otton had two catches for 16 yards, but this was by far the toughest game for the TE group this season. The Otton and Bryant duo have been a steady and reliable mid range option for Eason this year, with the ability to get the occasional explosive play. Neither happened against Stanford.
Offensive Line: C-
While the final numbers might not seem too bad - two sacks and three TFLs given up - this was another unit on offense that struggled, especially pass blocking. Going up against what was suppose to be a relatively weak Stanford front seven, they were never able to impose their will and get sort of rhythm going. Play calling didn’t certainly didn’t help. But this quote from Nick Harris post game sums things up: “I think (Stanford) made some good adjustments that I don’t think we were particularly prepared for. They kind of game-planned us a little bit on certain things.” Stanford was ready for whatever Washington threw at them and the OL’s performance confirmed that.
Defensive Line: C
The Huskies held Stanford under 200 yards rushing, which isn’t exactly a great accomplishment but perhaps better than one might expect after watching the game. But it wasn’t the raw numbers that mattered. It was Stanford getting the yards when they needed them, generating 24 first downs. They didn’t need explosive runs because they kept pounding the Huskies up the middle with 4-5 yard gains. The DL only totaled two tackles behind the line of scrimmage and largely did not effect Stanford QB Davis Mills. Levi Onwuzurike finished with 9 tackles and a TFL, which was decent. But, they went up against largely back ups and first/second year players for Stanford and got pushed around.
Not a whole lot to say at this point that hasn’t been said already this year. Whether or not the defensive line is covering up the offensive line and letting the LBs run free, they don’t seem to be able to make plays in the run game (or pass game for that matter). The duo of Manu and Wellington finished with 11 total tackles between them but zero sacks and zero TFLs. Manu was lined up on the edge multiple times but failed to get any sort of pressure. Joe Tryon is an impressive looking athlete but at times looks very lost and washes himself out of plays.
Trent McDuffie continues to settle in at CB and have a very strong freshman season. He was far from perfect, but made physical tackles and was the best CB in coverage. Elijah Molden finished with good numbers - 9 total tackles and .5 TFL - but didn’t make many splash plays to effect the game as Davis Mills completed passes over his head multiple times, to Simi Fehoko. Cameron Williams up and down freshman season continued, and he was pulled for Brandon McKinney after the freshman gave up a wide open 42 yard TD pass - Stanfords only passing TD of the game. After a great showing against USC, the unit allowed Davis Mills to go 21/30 for 293 yards and a TD, without a turnover.
Against a Stanford team that ranked in the 100s in multiple offensive and defensive categories, the Huskies made them look significantly better. The team was utterly unprepared to deal with a Cardinal team that didn’t just roll over because Washington was coming to town. The Huskies did not play with any emotion in an environment where they needed to bring their own energy. The game plan, especially on offense, was perplexing at best. Continuing to put so much of the game in the hands of very pedestrian wide receivers holds the offense back time and time again. Then the utter refusal to rotate in any younger players after the veterans are so clearly struggling in the game, is again, puzzling.
The best part of this team right now is probably the run game, and the game plan went away from it all too much. Seven total touches for Salvon Ahmed is criminal. The only times any of the Bynum/Spiker/Nacua/Osborne group got into a game, they were there to block on run plays. I can only hope that the coaches are playing a long game and will one day call a play action for a wide open touch down.
Defensively things were not much better, and that side of the ball continues to struggle this year relative to expectations. There are certainly more questions than answers after that game, yet they only allowed 23 points. That should be enough to win. We’ve seen over the years that this defense can be elite and is going through some growing pains this year, but the offense is a different story.
This is one of the more disappointing losses in the Petersen era and it makes it extremely difficult for the Huskies to able to repeat as Pac-12 North Champions. The Huskies take on Arizona in the desert this Saturday at 8:00PM, so that game will be entirely normal I am sure.