Oh good lord, writing these things after a loss is already pretty much the worst thing since the invention of the Gatling gun.
And then they had to go lose like that, to an objectively mediocre team. With the same offensive anemia that’s been present in far too much of this year. In other words, I would rather claw my own eyes out with a tetanus-infused screwdriver than have to relive that game via typing words onto this page.
But never fear, dear reader, because for some reason I’ve built up a
contractual obligation dedication to you guys that means you’re gonna get this week’s piece anyway. No matter how much I’d prefer to lay on the couch, throw a wet washcloth over my eyes, and play KNKX midday jazz at volume 2 (don’t wanna get too wild) while day-drinking aquavit through a swirly straw until my body ceases functioning.
So here we are:
A 58% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown on Absolutely Everything
Because this game sucked to the point where trying to articulate thoughts via “paragraphs” and “segues” would be an uphill battle, I’m just gonna simplify it (oooh, foreshadowing) with some good old fashioned bullet points which will then be abandoned once I realize you can’t do paragraphs with those bad boys. So, presenting candidates for “who sucked the most:”
- First thing’s first: Alright offensive line... some people are probably a bit surprised that this is what’s getting first blame — and believe me, it was a bitter fight for who gets to be shat on first here. In the words of a small, animated 4th greater from Colorado: “They practiced at sucking.”
While there are other, soon-to-be-mentioned factors that went into this game and the other inexplicable egg-laying games the offense has had (Stanford, OSU, the first half of Arizona), ultimately the O line kept making their case for the #1 culprit, juuuuust edging out the other candidates by a hair. And the more I’ve thought about it, the more blame they — or, more accurately, Scott Huff — deserve; Colorado was only getting 1.7 sacks per game and, when watching their defense in the past, their pass rush was absolutely horrendous. Stanford similarly had been mediocre at best, bad at worst. Despite the offensive line looking really good in short spurts this year (for example, the first half against Utah, who has one of the best defensive lines in the country), their wild variability despite having three seniors and only one player with less than 20 starts either doesn’t reflect well on their coaching, mental preparation (which just comes back to coaching), or both.
Aggravating about this fact is that, with a combination of Adams, Wattenberg, Harris, Kirkland, and Hilbers, this unit should probably be the best on the whole team, period. To see them as a unit, during games like this, collectively play so below their individual levels feels just like watching each of them being wasted before our eyes.
Which brings us to Scott Huff. I’m not completely in sell mode or anything on him — he’s a killer step up of a recruiter after Strausser’s consistent settling, his offensive lines have generally been fine enough, and he seems like a really likeable dude. But despite the talent he’s had at his disposal and the subsequent insane ceiling each of these lines have had, their on-field performance has stagnated on the field each year while never reaching the consistency or general performance level that should be expected of them. Typically, this has been more prevalent in pass protection, but then there will also be games — like Saturday — where they’re about as useful as a moldy pine cone in the run game, too.
Overall, a bad Colorado defensive front sacked Jacob Eason five times, while Salvon Ahmed and Richard Newton averaged 2.2 and 2.7 yards per carry. So, in relation to the next grievance I’m about to bring up: it doesn’t matter if Chris Petersen were to completely overhaul his offense tomorrow, transforming it into an intuitive and potent soul-crusher for defenses, if the running game can’t get more than two yards and the quarterback can’t even set his feet before someone’s barreling into him.
Anyways, onto The Second Thing: I think it’s a pretty well-agreed upon consensus that the offense needs at least a little bit of an update. The thing being debated seems to be the degree to which this needs to happen, from “complete overhaul” to “minor tweaks.”
I already wrote my thoughts on the matter in a roundtable that should be published later this week and, because I’m too lazy/recognize the marginal value of time versus rewriting something I’ve already done, will just post said thoughts here:
I think, while Bush has had play-calling sequences that I haven’t been on board with, the primary problem with the offense originates with the fact that Pete’s offensive philosophy is predicated on being the BSU-style underdog where you have to outsmart your opponents instead of just taking advantage of being better than them. I don’t think Pete has to overhaul it completely, but I think he needs to update it to take advantage of the caliber of player he has now. He can still have the same philosophy, but I think of it like the air raid at Wazzu vs. air raid-derivation at Oklahoma — the more pure version is used to mitigate your talent deficiencies (Wazzu) and the other has much the same things going on but is less esoteric to allow for their greater talent to just play how they can (Oklahoma). Pretty much, there’s nothing wrong with Pete’s philosophy inherently, but because it’s still built to be a giant killer as an underdog, it needs to be updated for UW’s natural abilities.
One of my main trains of thought here is that, although I’ve only been about 70% on board with any given play-calls from Hamdan this year, hiring a new offensive coordinator probably wouldn’t fix much, and certainly wouldn’t fix the primary source of things. It would be like changing your car tires when it’s the wheels’ alignment that’s off — sure, the treads might’ve been worn down, but the systemic issue is still there no matter how fresh everything else is.
And, to clarify, I don’t even inherently dislike Pete’s philosophy; the theory behind it is fantastic and, for the years he was at Boise State playing with the subsequent limited resources compared to Power 5 opponents, it was perfect. Simply put, we don’t get the best game ever played if Boise tries to play Oklahoma 1 v 1. There is a reason for this. But. The caliber of player Washington has can beat almost all teams 1 v 1. Sure, it’s good to throw in a little bit of out-smarting for good measure and to exacerbate opponents’ weaknesses, but when the complication of the offense is keeping so many players from playing their best or playing at all, then mathematically it turns into a net negative. If we have to wait for a quarterback to have Browning’s Einstein-ian understanding of the offense and the physical tools of Eason... I mean, I don’t thiiiink that person exists. Similarly, an offense wherein receivers of Spiker and Osborne’s abilities are barely seeing the field after 1.5 and almost two years, respectively, of learning it almost certainly cannot be functioning at its highest capabilities. Against both Stanford, Colorado, Oregon State, and the first half of Arizona, it looked simply like everybody’s brains were broken — which thus feels like this offense exemplifies something being genius in theory, but human beings executing something doesn’t exist in a vacuum of “in theory.”
And again, per my original thoughts, I wouldn’t argue that the whole thing needs to be overhauled or the philosophy blown up. Just... updated. Wazzu vs Oklahoma-style.
Lastly, to end on a kinda not awful note: considering the awful positions the offense put the defense in and how much they were on the field, I feel like they did pretty good overall even if there’s obviously room for improvement. That being said, the main difference between the offense and the defense this year has been that the defense has been the high variance unit we expected — and subsequently they’ve shown improvement over the course of the year that leaves foundational optimism for the future, even if it naturally has been two steps forward, one step back much of the time.
Anyhoo, that’s all.
Lines of the Week
Washington fans as the prescient first couple drives play out and we realized exactly how this game was gonna go:
Washington fans getting dramatic each time Eason overthrew a pass:
Washington fans at the offensive line:
Washington fans as the dim inevitability of defeat and death sets in:
And the two types of Husky fans on Twitter discussing Chris Petersen, Bush Hamdan, Jacob Eason, Scott Huff, anyone involved in the passing game, etc. :
Do good things, don’t do bad things, take a deep breath, and bow down to Washington.