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The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown: Utah Edition

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Utah at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Good

The run defense was actually solid. Washington was able to hold Zach Moss to 3.7 yards per carry, which could be considered a small victory given his season average of six yards per carry.

Jacob Eason threw for 316 yards and four touchdowns on a career high 52 passing attempts. Without further context, that would be a great game. Unfortunately, there is of course a significant amount of context that has been left out of that stat line. We’ll cover that in more detail below. But this is the good section, so let’s focus on the positives, like Eason’s connection with Hunter Bryant. Bryant had six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a hell of a game for a tight end. Good enough, in fact, to win the John Mackey Award Tight End of the Week honors.

The (first half) pass rush. The Washington pass rush was dominant in the first half. Four Huskies combined to sack Tyler Huntley four times. Joe Tryon had two of those sacks, as well as three TFLs. However, again, there’s more to this story which will be continued below.

Levi. Speaking of sacks, Levi Onwuzurike had half of one, along with 1.5 TFLs and seven total tackles. This might have been his best game of the season, as he was not only active in the pass rush, but was also an effective answer to Utah’s strong running game. He’s really coming into his own as a dominant defensive tackle, which should only help his future draft stock.

More young receivers saw meaningful live action. Terrell Bynum lead the team in catches with seven while amassing 68 yards. Marquis Spiker also had one impressive 21 yard catch:

The Bad

Jacob Eason. Yeah, so, following up on this... Eason threw two interceptions and lost a fumble deep in Washington territory. Utah ultimately scored 9 points off of two of his turnovers, including a pick six. After having a very clean pocket to throw from in the first half, Eason seemed to be under constant pressure in the second half, as Washington’s offensive line had several breakdowns in protection. It wasn’t all a protection issue though, as one of his picks was thrown into triple coverage, which was simply a very poor decision on Eason’s part. Ultimately, he completed just 29 of his 52 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 56%. Given that his season average has been hovering just below 70% for the past few weeks, that’s a very poor showing for him.

The (second half) pass rush. Utah clearly made some halftime adjustments along their offensive line, as Washington’s pass rush was completely absent in the second half. Huntley had such a clean pocket that he was able to complete 11/12 passes in the second half, and finished the night throwing 19/24 for 284 yards and a touchdown.

Finishing. This was the second game in a row, albeit the second in a row against a top-10 team, that Washington has given up an early lead and not been able to close out a game. Is it poor conditioning? It is a lack of willpower? Is it abandoning the run in the second half (again)? Well, it wouldn’t be fair for me to judge this team’s will, but I think there could be some credence to many of the younger players not being quite ready to play four collegiate quarters of football at full speed. That, and questionable play calling and clock management late in the game certainly haven’t helped.

Did someone say clock management? Late in the fourth quarter and with time winding down, Washington needed to score two touchdowns to win the game. Luckily, they had all three of their timeouts to help achieve that goal. As the clock dipped to under 2 minutes left and Washington was close to scoring the first of their two needed touchdowns, thanks to those timeouts, Washington still had a chance. If they could score and then force Utah into a three-and-out, those timeouts would help to ensure that enough time would be left for Washington to have one more offensive possession... Except that’s not what happened. Coach Petersen threw out that possibility by calling a timeout in a first and goal situation, after first allowing six seconds to run off the clock before finally calling that timeout with 1:52 left. It was such a bizarre decision that even Brock Huard felt the need to question it on the television broadcast. To add to the frustration, Utah DE Bradlee Anae sacked Eason on the following play, requiring Petersen to use Washington’s second remaining timeout... Woof.

The Unknown

What’s Puka Nacua’s status? After the game it was announced that Puka broke his foot in practice last week and will be out 4-5 weeks. There’s a chance that he’ll be back and ready for a bowl game, but that’s a wait and see situation. It’s another tough loss to a wide receiving corps that’s under performed and dealt with several key injuries already this season.

And since we’re talking about injured wide receivers, what’s Ty Jones status? The 6’4” junior wideout has been ready to play since the Stanford game, but apparently the coaching staff has held him back to preserve a redshirt year after Jones was injured during fall camp. He did suit up and warm up with the team against Utah, but it’s looking likely that we’ll see him in live action starting Friday against Oregon State.

Go Dawgs!