After an incredibly underwhelming effort in the passing game against Oregon State the hope was that a bye week would help the Huskies get back on track. Those hopes quickly died in the first half as once again Washington showed no energy to start the game on the road and their attempt to mount a comeback in the 2nd half fell short in a 20-14 loss in Boulder. Washington falls to 6-5 (3-5) on the season and are now guaranteed their first losing conference season under Chris Petersen since his first year on the job.
The Washington defense got a hold on the opening drive after Colorado committed holding on what would’ve been Steven Montez’s second scramble for a first down of the drive. The punt for the Buffs bounced directly sideways at the 1 yard line out of bounds pinning UW deep.
The Dawgs went 3 and out after Otton gained 1 yard and then dropped it on a pair of targets. The punt from Joel Whitford from his own end zone only made it to the 37 yard line setting up Colorado with fantastic field position. The Husky defense missed a lot of opportunities including about 4 tackles on what should’ve been a sack and a dropped interception by Trent McDuffie. But they ultimately held tall and kept Colorado to a chip shot field goal to make it 3-0.
On the first play of the ensuing Husky drive Jaxson Kirkland was rolled up on and was helped off the field by trainers with a leg injury and did not return. The Husky offense made a couple of big plays as Hunter Bryant had a nice catch and run up the seam and Washington converted three 3rd downs. But then on a 3rd and long in the red zone Jacob Eason was pressured and didn’t see the Colorado linebacker who dropped in front of the crossing route and it resulted in his 5th interception in the past 2+ games.
The Washington defense repeatedly forced Colorado into bad situations but Montez picked up a first down on a scramble on 3rd and long. Then the Buffs ran for a 1st down on a 4th and short and chose to go for it on another 4th and short shortly thereafter. But the Husky defense came up big and a wildcat run by Laviska Shenault up the middle was held up short by about a half yard to force the turnover on downs.
Colorado began sending relentless pressure and the Husky offensive line appeared completely incapable of doing anything about it. Eason was sacked on 3rd down leading to a 3 and out. Meanwhile, the Buffs marched the ball down the field and had 1st and goal at the 2 after a DPI penalty against Trent McDuffie guarding Laviska Shenault. But fortunately a holding penalty against Colorado allowed the defense to stop them short after Edefuan Ulofoshio touched Montez’s arm on a blitz forcing a turfed throw on 3rd down. The resulting Colorado field goal made it 6-0.
Washington had a pair of 3 and outs on their next two possessions sandwiched by a Colorado drive that gained one first down and then stalled out. On Colorado’s next time with the ball Steven Montez appeared to make a major mistake as he aired it out to a receiver fully blanketed by Trent McDuffie. But somehow Laviska Shenault dove and slightly undercut McDuffie to turn what looked like a sure interception into a miraculous touchdown and put the Huskies down 13-0 late in the 2nd quarter.
After Trey Adams was beaten badly leading to a sack on Eason on first down Colorado started using their timeouts to get the ball back before the half. Terrell Bynum made a guy miss however and was able to catch and dumpoff and run it for a Husky first down. Colorado went all out blitz the rest of the drive and it bit them when Jacob Eason stepped up in the pocket and found open grass in front of him for a 19 yard scramble. That miracle was shortlived however as Eason was sacked on consecutive dropbacks on 2nd and 3rd down resulting in yet another empty offensive possession for Washington.
At halftime the UW running backs had just 8 carries for 26 yards while Eason was 10/17 for 81 yards and an INT as well as sacked 4 times. Colorado outgained the Huskies 252-91 and Washington was fortunate to only trail by 13.
Washington finally moved the ball a little bit to start out the 2nd half although it was still impossibly difficult. The drive was extended after a Colorado defender hit Aaron Fuller on a clear incompletion and was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Terrell Bynum also converted a pair of 3rd downs and Richard Newton got two straight carries including one from the wildcat on 2nd and goal from the 10 to punch it in and put the Huskies on the board 13-7.
Colorado immediately put a stop to Washington’s momentum as they ran the ball 8 times and consistently gashed the Husky defense for gains of 5-10 all the way down the field for a TD to go back up by 13 points at 20-7.
Washington once again was repeatedly forced into bad situations. On 4th and 2 Eason connected with Hunter Bryant on a slant for 3 yards to keep the drive alive. Then on a 3rd and 4 Ahmed tried to reach the edge and was strung out for a loss of 4 bringing up a critical 4th and 8. Jacob Eason was immediately under siege and threw it while jumping to Aaron Fuller who gained 9 yards and an improbably 1st down. On the next play Cade Otton came open up the seam for a TD to bring the Dawgs back to within a score 20-14.
After a blown coverage left Laviska Shenault wide open the defense finally got their first sack of the night on 3rd down to force a Colorado punt. Washington got the ball back but did nothing with it as several inaccurate throws from Eason resulted in a 3rd and out. The Huskies were fortunate to force a 3 and out on the next possession after Laviska Shenault dropped it while wide open and a Montez throw on 3rd down was slightly outside and his receiver couldn’t make a diving catch.
On the resulting Colorado punt Aaron Fuller made several men miss and turned upfield but the last man was able to grab a fistful of his jersey and prevent the touchdown. Still it resulted in a 52 yard gain and the Huskies started the possession almost in field goal range. They didn’t do anything with it as on 3rd down and 5 Jacob Eason tried his ill-fated spin move to evade pressure and slipped on the turf for a loss of 13 to force a punt.
Kyler Gordon made a great special teams play to down it at the one but Josiah Bronson jumped offsides to bail out Colorado and Montez ran for a first down but injured his hand. On the one play the backup was in the Buffs fumbled the ball but got back on top of it in a what could have been moment for the Huskies. On a 3rd and 16 Montez slipped away from a defender and floated a ball for a first down. The Huskies were unable to stop Colorado’s run game just as they hadn’t all night and a few more first downs iced the game away as Washington didn’t get another shot.
Colorado ended up outgaining the Huskies 430-238 and won the turnover battle 1-0 which meant Washington was fortunate for it to even be a one game score. Washington’s running backs combined for 25 carries and just 61 yards as the Huskies repeatedly saw 2nd and 11 or 3rd and 9. Colorado ran 39 times for 209 yards against UW’s defense.
The criticism of the Husky offense and coaching staff is sure to reach a fever pitch as it appears Washington will whimper down the stretch going into the Apple Cup. Washington was outscored 33-53 in the first halves of their conference road games this season despite playing 0 teams with a winning Pac-12 record.