Washington took more downfield shots than I thought they would this game, and Eason was generally sharp on those throws. He connected on passes 57 and 39 yards and finished 15 of 22 with 11.1 yards per attempt. He also had a sneak for a TD and didn’t turn the ball over. Typical of his sharp QB performance was a nice pocket to operate from and lots of involvement from the tight ends. What is perhaps most impressive about this performance is that he did it while the run game never got going. It was all on the pass game, and he delivered.
Running Backs: B-
Not the best day for the running backs, though the numbers aren’t as bad as they feel like from watching the game. Salvon averaged over 5 yards a carry, and especially helped ice the game away with some first downs at the end of regulation. Richard Newton never really got going but had two rushing TDs. All season he’s been punching it into the end zone and the Apple Cup was no different.
Wide Receivers: C+
As has been the case most of the year, only a few wide receivers were involved catching passes. And in the Apple Cup, only one mattered: Terrell Bynum. He had three huge catches for 77 yards. One was a 57 yard bomb that opened up the drive and lead to a touchdown. Another was a 16 yard TD he made a nice adjustment to catch. The rest of the unit was pretty anonymous. Aaron Fuller had just two catches and they came on the drive he fumbled. Chico got an opportunity on a screen pass but was tackled immediately for a two yard gain.
Tight Ends: A-
Other than a drop by Hunter Bryant, this group was as good as they’ve been all season. Cade Otton catches everything thrown his way, provides great blocking, and runs strong after the catch. They even designed a nifty screen pass for him that he took for 25 yards. He averaged 15.3 yards on each of his three catches. Bryant was Bryant. Six catches for 96 yards, and he was a constant outlet over the middle and on short/intermediate routes. Every time he caught a pass he rumbled downfield fighting for every yard.
Offensive Line: B
Hit and miss from the offensive line. The run game never really got going but WSU was trying to take that away after so many years of being run over in the Apple Cup. On the other hand, they only allowed one sack and six tackles for a loss. Much of that was early in the game and they got it sorted out, providing a nice pocket for Eason to pick apart the Cougar secondary. But, it still felt like Eason took more hits than you want to see from a defense such a WSU’s.
Defensive Line: A
The Huskies didn’t play with many true DL on the field, often times using just one in their three man front (flanked by Bowman and Tryon usually). However, be it Levi Onwuzurike, Benning Potoa’e, Josiah Bronson, or Tuli Letuligasenoa, they kept the linebackers clean. None piled up huge stats, but they did their part in collapsing the pocket and making Anthony Gordon uncomfortable.
One of the best games for the linebackers all season. In shutting down the WSU air raid, it requires the whole defense to work in concert and tackle securely. The linebackers did that, while also harassing Anthony Gordon in the pocket. In the middle, Edefuan Ulofoshio continues to look the part and play with tenacity - he had 12 tackles and 2 tackles for a loss. Brandon Wellington showed off some range and finished with 12 tackles, all of which were solo. With the secondary locking down the back end, that leads to numerous dump offs and check downs, and the linebackers need to swarm and tackle. They did just that. On the outside, Ryan Bowman and Joe Tryon were complete havoc wreckers. They combined for 4 TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
New game, same old apples. The defensive backs have to communicate in the back end and not let anything deep, which they did. Elijah Molden was almost like another linebacker out there the way he played the flats and short area of the field. He fought through blocks and tackled really securely, while seemingly being everywhere on the field. Keith Taylor and Myles Bryant were very good as well. Trent McDuffie however, continues to make the case for best DB on the team. He had a pick and a forced fumble, and shows great technique in coverage. As a unit, they did not allow a passing touchdown, the first time Washington State has been held out of the end zone through the air this season.
There isn’t much to say about the defensive staff that hasn’t been said for the past six years after Apple Cups. They yet again shut down the air raid and limited one of the best passing attacks in college football to peanuts. The pass rush continues to come alive and the middle linebacker...um, situation, seems to be getting more settled by the week. The offense was still plenty frustrating, but they scored 31 points on a Pac-12 foe, which has hardly been a given this season. Terrell Bynum keeps emerging. The team had energy, passion, and played with attitude - again not something that’s been a given this year. That has never been a problem in Apple Cups, but this Apple Cup was ripe for a letdown and it didn’t get close to that. Coach Petersen’s last dance with Washington State was pretty much the same as the last six.