Intros are *Very Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation voice* the woooooorst.
So let’s not.
Here’s some words that are not an intro:
A 100% Accurate and 92% Sober Rundown of Absolutely Everything
First thing’s first: that was the first time we’ve seen Jacob Eason have a legitimately bad game. And, other than two egregious throws and his lack of climbing-the-pocket instincts, it was still alright, as far as bad games go. The silver lining, if Washington’s gonna lose, is that at least Eason could look not NFL-ready doing it.
That being said, by my estimation saying Eason “looked bad” isn’t very accurate — or at least is only half so. Truthfully, he didn’t look bad most of the time — it’s just that he looked bad in critical plays that defined the game and that rightfully overshadows what was for many snaps a pretty good performance against one of the best defenses in the country.
But also holy crap bud climb the pocket.
On a related note, props to the offensive line for crushing it for a half. And then, whatever the opposite of props is for whatever the opposite of crushing it is. Good lordy I don’t think I’ve ever seen a unit go from nearly dominant to totally crushed over the course of the game like that. This looked particularly true of the tackles. I should include with this statement the asterisk that I haven’t gone back to study this because rewatching the game would constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention against myself, somehow, but in the moment it looked like Trey Adams and Jared Hilbers especially were getting whipped.
Also, since one of my roles here is to preview defenses, I can say for real that I’m not annoyed Bush Hamdan elected to throw it as much as they did — that’s how you beat Utah, especially in obvious running situations, ironically (more on that in, oh, about two sentences). What I wasn’t a fan of, play-calling-wise, was that it seemed like there was a little switch that went off after the pick six where the offensive philosophy shifted to more timid and conservative, which is all but a death sentence against Utah’s defense. Martyball-style run, run, pass doesn’t work against the Utes, and it felt like Hamdan was scheming scared after that. Otherwise, I thought he actually did a decent job all things considered, and the wheels just fell off in the execution.
Now, speaking of those “obvious running situations”: that 4th and 1 go for it toss to Devin Culp was absolutely the right decision and play, albeit one where I didn’t agree with Petersen’s call to take a timeout with so much time on the clock. But other than the fact that it would’ve been smarter to let the clock run down to about 50 seconds, that was the right call. In fact, it was even good execution down to the half a second where Culp couldn’t hold on.
I only bring this specific play up because I assume there’s some people who wanted UW to run it there — and against pretty much any other team I would be fully on board with that criticism. But if you study Utah’s defense, you know that they’re so preposterously dominant when they know their opponent is gonna run it, that by doing so in that scenario the Dawgs would be all but giving up.
As far as I’m concerned, that one call is the epitome of a 20/20 hindsight, everyone-calls-it-genius-if-it-works-and-moronic-if-it-doesn’t play. If Culp had one more fiber of hand strength to hang on through his fall, then the narrative becomes “Pete’s back to being ballsy like he was at Boise, what a badass,” but with Culp not hanging on, it becomes “Why get too clever? Trust your line.” (Hint: circumstantially against Utah, you should never trust anyone’s line there.)
Considering A) the situation, B) UW’s defense, and C) how conservatism guarantees a loss to Utah, the hill I’ll die on is that that was 100% the right thing to do. Also, that 1,000 Miles by Vanessa Carlton is a banger.
On the defensive side, Tyler Huntley had some fantastic throws against great coverage. He also had some great throws against mediocre coverage. The former was actually pretty fun to watch even at the expense of my beloved team, and the latter blew chunks. (Sidenote: in all seriousness, Huntley’s improvement year-to-year has been awesome. He’s kind of been the anti-Justin Herbert in that way: instead of exploding out of nowhere as an unheralded quarterback kicking far more ass than unheralded quarterbacks do only to stagnate in the years following, Huntley shuffled out of nowhere, underwhelmed, and slowly but surely become genuinely good over time. Like a, uh, fine blue cheese. That’s right, if you take away just one thing from today, it should be that Tyler Huntley is blue cheese. Which makes Justin Herbert... I dunno, mozzarella*? Either way, something that doesn’t get better with age.)
Okay, back to non-cheese thoughts.
If the Oregon loss was mostly on the defense, the blame for this one felt pretty evenly split on both sides. I don’t know if Utah’s lines were just sleepwalking the first half-ish before deciding to turn on the jets, or if Washington’s lines originally played out of their mind and just weren’t able to maintain Utah’s level over the course of the game, but the inconsistency in both unit’s execution feels pretty solidly at fault.
Regardless of takeaways, there’s one thing that we can all agree on: the fact that Nick Harris’ final season became essentially a rebuilding year is proof that the universe is a cold, cruel void. That guy deserved to go out on top, and seeing him on the sidelines as time expired was heartbreaking.
*I realize in hindsight that Justin Herbert would be Tillamook medium cheddar.
Lines of the Week
As portrayed by David Rose, since I’ve come to the realization that Dawg fans are one bajillion percent David Rose. Although, come to think of it, ummmmmmmmost-and/or-all sports fans are David Rose...
Washington fans preparing to devote three+ hours of precious weekend time to a game in which far too much mental health is invested:
Washington force-feeding its fans hope and touchdowns and line dominance:
Washington fans when Bradlee Anae gets his first hit:
Washington fans when Washington starts to slow down and Utah starts to get their shenanigans together...
...and after each interception and false start:
And Washington fans at approximately 4:26 PM on Saturday:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.