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Film Study: Oregon State

Washington v Oregon State Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

With Jacob Eason pressing and looking more uncomfortable than he ever had as a Husky, with the ongoing issues catching passes...penalties...turnovers....special teams looked like the perfect recipe for a high-powered Oregon State offense to take advantage of an inconsistent and beleaguered Husky defense to end an 8-year streak of Husky dominance in the series.

Instead, in a game that was there for the taking, the Beavers managed to put up 119 yards of total offense on the day, with only 8 after half time (along with ZERO first downs) as the Husky offense accounted for all 26 points scored in the game (unfortunately only 19 for the good guys, though). as the Husky defense dominated like it was 2016. Or 2018. Or 2015. Or pretty much any year in the Chris Petersen era but this one. Until now....

To the giferarium.

1st and 10:

Two really strong pass rushes work in concert to generate an early sack for the Washington defense, and make it known that this wasn’t going to be the Beavers’ day.

The OSU QB takes the shotgun snap and a three step drop, and as he’s starting to survey the field he clearly sees OLB #55 on a whirling dervish spin move that creates an inside rush lane. The spin plus the fact that Bowman is clearly held by the right tackle as he spins past means that he’s going to have a tough time containing the outside on this play; as he gets closer on the rush, the QB might actually have had an alley to get outside of Bowman. But....

On the other of the play, OLB #9 Joe Tryon is on a nice rush of his own. OSU’s left tackle can’t really match Tryon’s speed, but midway up the field, Tryon does a really nice job of delivering a blow to the tackle and ensuring that he’s going to get around the corner. Bowman’s inside rush on the opposite side actually pushes the QB right in to Tryon’s path, turning a likely sack into a very easy play.

The two interior defensive tackles hold their own, but this was a great job by both of the Washington outside linebackers.

2nd and 7:

The Huskies ran three tight ends on about a third of the offensive snaps against Oregon State, and that was very likely a key in the big day the Dawgs had on the ground.

This play is an outside zone run, but with the added element of a lead-blocking full back (TE #87 Cade Otton) to pave the way.

A couple of notable blocks on this play: First, LG #76 Luke Wattenberg releases straight upfield to the play side inside linebacker. Pretty obvious win for him. RG #51 Jaxson Kirkland has a difficult job on this play, as he needs to laterally get to the nose tackle two gaps to his left to keep him from flowing to the run. Very good job getting there by Kirkland (and also in holding-but-not-quite-holding). Otton as the lead blocker gets a...what would you call that, a “rodeo pancake?” Why not.

RB #26 Salvon Ahmed is fast and decisive attacking the defense and he’s through the traffic before much of the defense even knows what’s going on. If not for LT #72 Trey Adams eventually losing his block (it’s his man that catches Ahmed from behind), this play might very well have been a touchdown.

The Huskies have actually done very well running the ball against bad rushing defenses, and Oregon State was no different.

4th and 3:

The Huskies are bringing the blitz on 4th down, as both inside linebackers come up the same gap. If the running back stays in to block, then there’s no coverage breakdown to exploit (the running back is the man those inside linebackers would normally be covering). If that back enters the pattern, things can get tougher.

Washington brings what’s known as a “Peel Blitz” on this play, and astute Husky fans will recognize that this is the exact same play that Alabama ran on their interception-return-for-touchdown right before the half in the 2016 Peach Bowl. If the running back blocks, OLB #9 Joe Tryon is rushing. Since the back leaks into the flat, Tryon “peels” with him and into coverage.

Tryon is a bit too committed to the rush to get all the way out to make the INT, but he’s a freaky enough athlete that he’s there in time to turn this play into a loss and a turnover on downs.

1st and 10:

Husky fans ought to remember this play from the first offensive series of the Hawaii game earlier this year.

This is a “switch” or “exchange” route on the right side of the offense, where TE #87 Cade Otton and TE #1 Hunter Bryant are both standing up like split receivers tight to the formation. At the snap, the inside receiver Otton runs a fade, and the outside receiver Bryant crosses back underneath Otton on a post. That crossing action means the defenders must adjust and switch men, and the transition gives a lot of space in the middle of the field for Byrant to work. A nice throw by QB #10 Jacob Eason gives Bryant the ball, and only a holding penalty way down the field keeps this from being a TD.

3rd and 4:

The offense is in 11 personnel, with a tight end and one receiver to the left, and two receivers tight to the formation on the right.

Here’s what should happen here: As WR #2 Aaron Fuller comes across the formation in motion to create a trips bunch formation to the right, the action of the defense should tip off the coverage, whether it’s man or zone. If a defender follows Fuller across, it’s obviously man, and the speed out that he runs will benefit from the congestion the defender has to negotiate coming across the field. If the defense shows zone, the out is a dead issue, and the look is to the middle, with the mesh concept across the middle, and the sit-down route in the middle creating a little bit of a pick for TE #1 Hunter Bryant coming from left to right over the middle.

The defensive shift says zone or man-under, with help over the top letting the underneath defenders play aggressively. The out should’ve been aborted, and the look should’ve been to Bryant (who would’ve had the first down here, easily). Instead, Jacob Eason is decisive at the very least, but also very decisively wrong; this is not a pass that should have ever been thrown. The defender is sitting on this route, Eason never looks away, and this play is so easy it made last week’s pick-six look like a spectacular play.

1st and 10:

So, watching this play, over, and’s genuinely tough to find a single thing that doesn’t work about as perfectly as it possibly could.

It’s a simple play, one the Huskies run several times a game - power left, with RG #51 pulling and leading the back through the whole. The offensive linemen at the point of attack (the left side of the line) blocks “down” (toward the middle), and the right tackle seals the back side of the play. The Huskies have a tight end and H-back on the play side, they take out the inside and outside linebacker on that side. The receiver has the cornerback.

So, let’s see....downblock, check. Trey Adams, Luke Wattenberg and Nick Harris are blowing Beavers backward. The tight ends...check, really nice blocks by both Hunter Bryant on the OLB and Cade Otton on the ILB. WR #4 Terrell Bynum...check. That’s a nice job of getting in front of the safety, and then making a really solid block.

Salvon Ahmed gets the ball and could’ve walked through the hole; the last man that the back needs to “beat” on his own...well, Ahmed turns on the speed and that’s just not going to be a problem.

Fantastic execution.

1st and 10:

This is a “firing on all cylinders” play. This is dynamic defense.

We’ll start with the less impactful, or less obvious.

OLB #55 Ryan Bowman on the left side of the defense: he physically dominates the right tackle. Blows him back and off the line. After Levi Onwuzurike, Bowman has silently anchored this defense. Great season from him, and it’s hard to believe he’s only a junior.

DT #8 Benning Potoa’e: that’s some serious quicks. The offensive linemen that was supposed to be blocking him gives one of those “Oh @#$” turns, then moves on, then can’t help but peek back to see how bad was the carnage from his mistake.

ILB #48 Eddie Uolofoshio isn’t involved in the play, but he’s “right” in his reads and his flow.

S #5 Myles Bryant comes up in control, and keeps his head and containment on the outside.

ILB #30 Kyler Manu makes a very nice read here; he’s watching the ball and reading the end-around motion coming toward him. After the fake to the running back, he attacks the end-around. It’s a bit of a gamble, but it’s at least a decisive play, and it’s a pretty high-odds play that he’s going to be right.

OLB #9 Joe Tryon is fantastic on this play. When you see him start to flow down the line of scrimmage....early in the season (coughCALcough), he was turning and sprinting after the ball. That little slide he’s doing here isn’t exactly “correct,” but he’s the type of athlete that you want to see that from. He reads, adjusts, and keeps his head instead of going bonkers to attack the play. He sees Manu, waits, sees the missed tackle, then cleans things up.

High level stuff.

3rd and 9:

This play, and the one above, really, this is a defense that was playing really, really fast in the second half. Not thinking or hesitating. Just guys each doing his job, at a high level.

The Huskies show five up front, and end up bringing four. OLB #55 Ryan Bowman and OLB #9 Joe Tryon are coming on “bullets;” a hard, upfield rush from the outside, straight to the backfield as fast as they can. Just inside of Bowman on the left there, in the three-point stance; that’s Myles Bryant. Bryant stands and reads, and when the running back enters the pattern instead of staying in to block, Bryant picks him up in coverage. ILB #48 is in the B gap to the defense’s right, showing blitz. At the snap he hesistates, and DT #8 Benning Potoa’e rushes from the inside to the outside, and Ulofoshio loops into the middle behind him (a “twist”). While the OLBs aren’t really in control enough to get the QB, they force him to step up, into the waiting arms of the blitzing linebacker.

Anyone that can post a link of Myles Bryant lining up as an interior lineman wins a ride in Chris Landon’s car.

This was one of the horribly beautiful wins Husky fans have enjoyed, or endured, the last two years, with an impenetrable defense that brings goose eggs for everyone that doesn’t already have one, while the offense struggles to find its footing. Before anyone says “oh, it’s just Oregon State,” Oregon State actually a top 10 offense by FEI (on a per-drive basis). They are good on that side of the ball. What Washington did was meaningful. That defense with the (actually pretty good) offense the team has had this season, warts and all, might very well be an undefeated team. Sad and happy at the same time....

Film Study game balls go to: Salvon Ahmed on offense, Tim Horn on special teams, and apologies to Levi Onwuzurike (who was typically great) and Eddie Ulofoshio (who was unexpectedly very, very good), defense goes to Joe Tryon. Who was a Manimal out there.