Kay moving on:
A 100% Accurate and 66% Sober Rundown of Absolutely Everything
Kay, first thing’s first. Not considering my affiliation, but simply as a fan of college football collectively and as a sport: oh my lord, that game was so boring.
This isn’t to say there weren’t good (and bad) takeaways, but holy crap, what a snooze fest.
In a semi-related note and in line with my status as the pessimist after victories and optimist after defeats, of course it would be the Oregon and Utah games that made me trust our offense only for the vaunted Oregon State defense to terrorize my future thoughts on this team. Naturally, that’s what we all predicted.
In fact, my notes for the offense are “whatever boring who gives a crap (except for Salvon Ahmed you go).” Other than the offensive line actually holding it together, the passing game felt just as doomed as they did against Stanford — the receivers: useless, Eason: un-calibrated.
While the receivers’ primary contribution was an almost comical inability to create separation and an even lesser ability to make the subsequent contested catches (plus a handful of poorly timed jumps), Eason’s struggles were far more interesting.
And, to clarify, I’m not using the word “interesting” as synonymous with “better;” Jacob Eason had a bad game, full stop. But, bad games manifest themselves in a bunch of different ways, especially for quarterbacks since they control the distribution of each play. Specifically, let’s say we all agree that Eason’s last two games against Utah and Oregon State were bad — then Utah was bad because he made a few poorly judged throws with huge consequences, even if those poor throws were lower frequency. Oregon State, on the other hand, was bad because every throw was off by just a bit but with much higher frequency. In other words, pick six notwithstanding, Jacob Eason’s Oregon State game was bad by much smaller margins that permeated seemingly every play and added up to a horrifyingly inefficient offense over the 60 minutes.
In other other words, you could create a matrix for quarterback play where one side has two options of “low frequency” and “high frequency” and the other side has the options of “low consequence/margin” and “high consequence/margin” and Jacob Eason’s last two games have been bad for pretty much the opposite reasons: Utah, for low frequency with huge margin of error, and Oregon State for high frequency and low margin of error (again, pick six notwithstanding).
Both of these suck. Ironically, I feel like I’d rather have the Utah version simply as a fan of football because at least that doesn’t end up a snooze fest (and as a Washington fan because then you see glimpses of good instead of the bad permeating seemingly every play) — but at least with games like Oregon State, as long as they don’t become common, they can somewhat reasonably be chalked up to just an off game.
Personally, I’ve seen a bunch of good out of Jacob Eason this season relative to the bad moments — the main fear is the mental impact of this game and Utah back to back on him going forward. It’s just so confounding seeing this offense be legitimately good against Oregon and Utah and then crap the bed against Oregon State, Stanford, and for one half against Arizona.
So, I suppose my takeaway so far this season on the offense is just pure, unadulterated confusion. Also that Salvon Ahmed is probably the messiah.
On the other side of things, the defense became everything we’d hoped and more. As my notes say: “Joe Tryon holy shit.”
Other than the pass rush coming alive, there didn’t necessarily seem to be one single factor to point to, just that each individual seemed way more instinctual and fundamentally sound. What I’m about to say is just conjecture and I have no actual evidence for it, but I can’t help but wonder if much of the defense’s struggles this year has been due to players not trusting other guys and subsequently trying to do too much which takes them out of their own responsibility. There’s really no evidence for this other than the correlation that the game where Jackson Sirmon and Eddie Ulofoshio play a lot of snaps on the inside, the whole defense was in better position all night — after all, if there was one unit not to trust this whole season it would be the two senior linebackers, especially Brandon Wellington who, while I’m sure he’s a good guy, has been exceptionally poor at diagnosing plays and being in the right place.
Obviously Sirmon and Ulofoshio are imperfect currently, but they’re redshirt freshmen — that’s to be expected — so, accordingly, they both have lots of room to grow and already have better instincts. The latter’s especially true in Ulofoshio’s case, who led the team in tackles.
Like what I said previously, the most important sight from the defense was that, in the aggregate, all the foundational things that make a defense function well happened against Oregon State when these things had been missing for much of the season. Or, as I wrote originally in my notes: “Whoah this is way better than the loosey goosey-ass slop-fest UW’s been this year.” If there’s one thing about this performance that made me happy as a fan, it wasn’t the four sacks or forcing Jake Luton to throw just his second interception all year, it was that their instincts and execution thereof were so. Much. Better.
Mostly though, this game was just weird. It was exactly the opposite of how we all reasonably expected it to go given the scenario of one really good offense and one offense that had played well against two really good defenses versus one really bad defense and one defense in a rebuilding year. Of course it would’ve ended up 19-7. Obviously that’s a sensible score.
And lastly, before anyone dismisses this defensive performance as “against Oregon State so who cares,” this year’s OSU offense is legitimately quite good. Which, wow that feels weird to say.
Lines of the Week
Washington fans to the defense getting their crap together:
Eddie Ulofoshio to, like, everybody:
And Joe Tryon:
Followed by both Tryon and Ulofoshio to Jake Luton...
...and Jake Luton back to both of them:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.