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Instant Reaction: Washington Grinds Down Oregon State

A defensive battle erupted in a not-so-classic “PAC 12 After Dark” affair

Washington v Oregon State Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

A resurgent Washington defense kept the Oregon State offense out of the scoring column while a huge night by Husky star Salvon Ahmed helped power the Huskies to a 19-7 road win over Oregon State on Friday night.

The game started out on an ominous note not because of anything on the field but because when I turned on FS1 at the start time I was met with horror at the scene of yet another NASCAR Truck race. With visions of an entire first quarter of the 2017 UW at Stanford game getting sacrificed in the name of NASCAR, a few inappropriate curse words formed on my lips. Fortunately, Stewart Friesen and his glorious mustache advanced to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami without any crash-related delays eating into the scheduled kickoff time.

Once the game hit the air, the pregame vibe was positive for Dawg fans. Sights of both redshirt freshman RB Richard Newton and now-redshirt “sophomore” WR Ty Jones suiting up were greeted with enthusiasm by fans everywhere. The Huskies, losers of two straight home games and sitting at a disappointing 2-4 conference record, needed some semblance of good news and the return of two key contributors certainly provided it.

Those were the last of the positive vibes that Huskies fans would feel for awhile. While the Huskies defense came on strong in the first half, it was hard to ignore an offense so sluggish that it evoked memories of Arizona State 2017. 4.7 yards per play. 3.5 yards per rush. 1 explosive play. 10 total points. It wasn’t pretty.

Fortunately, the Dawgs defense was up to the task. The much-maligned unit put up their own dominating performance against what has been a strong Oregon State offensive line and a high scoring unit. Joe Tryon and Levi Onwuzurike created nonstop havoc helping the Huskies to pitch a first half shut out and leading to a 10-0 UW advantage going into the halftime.

The second half got off to another ugly offensive start. The Beavers tried an ill-advised onside kick that gave UW the ball at their 45 yard line. But 11 plays later, UW managed just a field goal to extend their lead to 13-0.

UW QB Jacob Eason continued to struggle even as his defense kept giving him the ball back. An egregious pick six midway through the third quarter evoked memories of last week’s game against Utah and put the Beavers right back in the game.

Then Salvon Ahmed happened.

Ahmed’s 60 yard breakaway (and a failed 2 point conversion) put the Huskies up 19-7. It also provided all of the cushion that UW’s D would need to finish up the win. That Husky D would only surrender 8 total yards of offense to OSU in the second half in preserving the final score.

With the not-so-pretty win, UW moves to 3-4 in conference play. Husky fans will lament the fact that the Dawgs have not yet put together a full game against a PAC 12 opponent. If it’s not a struggling offense (Cal, Stanford, OSU), it’s a porous defense (USC, Oregon, Utah). Nevertheless, Washington has now collected it’s sixth win and is bowl eligible.

Game Dots

  • Salvon Ahmed edged out Hunter Bryant as UW’s offensive player of the game. He set a new personal record by going 174 yards on 25 carries including two for touchdowns.
  • Despite Ahmed’s heroics, the story of this game was yet again the inconsistent arm of Jacob Eason. In the first half, Eason managed just 6 of 15 with 1 INT and a yards per attempt of 2.6 before a 40 yard completion to Hunter Bryant doubled his yardage and seemed to shake off the cobwebs. The struggles continued in the second half with the pick six and a handful of poorly thrown balls. Eason finished with just 175 yards on 5.5 yards per attempt and 2 INTs.
  • Joe Tryon had his best game of the year. He recorded 2.0 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, 7 tackles and had the huge open field tackle to force a first half turnover on downs on what was a great read of a screen pass.
  • The emergence of Levi Onwuzurike continues. He was very disruptive time and again throughout this game and shared in a sack.
  • Oregon State QB Jake Luton entered the game with the second best TD:INT ratio (19:1) in the nation. That ratio took a hit on a daring fourth down play in :43 seconds in to go in the first half that was brilliantly picked off by Elijah Molden.
  • Unsung heroes include Ed Ulofoshio who played a bunch of snaps at ILB and recorded 9 tackles to lead the team along with Keith Taylor who had responsibility for OSU star Isaiah Hodgins most of the night holding him to just 4 catches.
  • I mentioned Hunter Bryant above. The star Husky TE was the best offensive player on the field for the Dawgs despite dealing with a gimpy ankle injured early in the first quarter. He finished the game with 5 catches for 90 crucial yards. That doesn’t even count yards eliminated because of penalty and a few oh-so-close incompletions that Bryant battled for in over-the-middle situations. He was a warrior for UW.
  • The return of Richard Newton meant the return of the wildcat to the Husky offense. The very unpopular formation was ran just once for a total of 2 yards.
  • Washington came into the this game averaging more than two TDs scoring per game in the first quarter. Against a weak OSU defense, UW figured to extend those figures. Instead, the Beavs set the tone defensively by just allowing a single long FG to UW’s Peyton Henry.
  • Speaking of Henry, his streak of 16 straight FGs without a miss ended on a 28 yard attempt to close the first half that was completely mis-struck and missed badly to the right. He would go on to miss two more kicks, although one of those was rekicked successfully after a defensive penalty.
  • There was one play in the first quarter that exemplified the preparation that went into the defensive game plan. On a 3rd down, UW lined up with both of its DLs on the outside shoulders of their opposing tackles and the OLBs just outside of them. The Dawgs sold out to guard the perimeter and the subsequent OSU screen pass was immediately snuffed out for a fourth down.
  • Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer delivered a subtle jab to UW and coach Chris Petersen during the pregame coverage when he noted that he had experience playing PAC 12 teams in the past two post seasons but that both Oregon and Utah stood out as “complete, all purpose teams” and the best of the teams he’s directly seen.
  • Leave it to beat writer Mike Vorel to drum up the obscure stat of the day and to artfully assert a prediction without actually predicting anything: