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Easy As Eason! Huskies Handle Eagles in 2019 Opener: Instant Reactions

The Huskies win their 15th straight at home against the usually feisty Eagles.

NCAA Football: Eastern Washington at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

With all eyes on Jacob Eason and his much-anticipated Husky debut, he lead the offense to 45 points on 27-36 passing for 349 yards and 4 TDs. The yardage is the most ever for a Husky making his debut. But more important than the stat line, Jacob Eason looked in control and in command of the offense, knowing where to go with the ball and making good reads in the RPO game. He made multiple “wow” throws, and most importantly, didn’t turn the ball over. Obviously the level of the opponent needs to be considered, but Washington has had its problems with Eastern over the years so to beat the Eagles decisively was nice.

The Huskies started strong with TDs on their first three drives, including a beautiful 50-yard bomb to Andre Baccellia who ran right past the EWU corner and safety. Things slowed down a bit after that, with teams trading punts before Eason led the Huskies on an eight-play, 80-yard drive to make it 28-0. Then the Huskies did something they almost never do: they gave up a big play, specifically a 64-yard catch and run for Eastern’s Andrew Boston. As I thought might be the case this season, the Husky defense will create more havoc, but its youth could be more susceptible to big plays. That is a relative “weakness,” and Jimmy Lake will get it fixed, I am sure.

Overall, a very encouraging first game for a Husky team that feels like it is entering a new era with some big-time young talent in the pipeline. The offense looked like it can attack defenses in different ways. They finished with 200 yards rushing and 370 yards passing. The defense held Eastern to under 300 yards, in large part due to Benning Potoa’e and his 3 TFLs (two sacks).

Instant Reaction Dots:

  • The Huskies played a lot more 3 and 4 down linemen on DL than I expected. Instead of the usual two big DTs in the middle with two speedy OLBs on the edges, they often lined up with Josiah Bronson, Benning Potoa’e, and Levi Onwuzurike with their hands in the dirt.
  • Richard Newton was really impressive in his debut. He took his first touch as a Dawg straight up the middle for a 12-yard TD on a wildcat play and finished with 11 carries for 89 yards. He showed nice vision and hard running for a freshman.
  • Nick Harris seemed to injure his ankle or knee early in the game, and was replaced at center by Matteo Mele. There were some errant snaps, but Eason’s height helped him corral the ball.
  • Andre Baccellia scored a long TD on a ball from Eason, his first score since his freshman year (and only second as a Husky).
  • Aaron Fuller made two impressive TD catches, including a likely catch-of-the-year candidate with his one-handed extended catch in the corner of the end zone. It was like the offensive version of Kevin King’s interception against Arizona State a couple years ago.
  • The two big areas of improvement fans wanted to see this season were the pass rush and more playmaking from the WRs. On the pass rush, the Huskies registered 4 sacks and 9 TFL but it felt like a lot of the pressure came from the interior, with the likes of Bronson, Potoa’e, and Onwuzurike getting into the backfield. The WRs looked...the same-ish. Aaron Fuller made some great catches, but we’ll see if he can continue that form for the whole season.
  • Laiatu Latu got in late and his first tackle as a Husky went for a safety. The pass rush from the edges still felt like a work in progress, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Latu’s snap count continue to go up as the season wears on.
  • Having a healthy Hunter Bryant and Chico McClatcher is huge for the offense. Chico’s impact was immediate, showing off his quickness on a few occasions by getting positive yardage. Eason located Hunter Bryant on numerous different routes and even a shovel pass in the red zone which he almost punched in for a TD.
  • Terrell Bynum made his first career catch in the fourth quarter, and the much anticipated Puka Nacua made it onto the field for a few plays, though no passes were thrown his way.
  • Kamari Pleasant has seemingly gone down in the running back pecking order, not getting a rush until late in the fourth quarter. Ahmed is RB1, followed by McGrew and Newton.
  • The offensive coaches showed an interesting goal line look, using LB Jackson Sirmon as a fullback and OL/TE Corey Luciano as a sixth OL.
  • Special teams looked like it took a step forward as well. P Joel Whitford pinned Eastern deep multiple times showing off strength and control with his punts. Tim Horn was kicking touchbacks, and the coverage units looked sharper.
  • Cam Williams started his first game as a freshman and for the most part held his own without being noticed in any negative way. That said, a poor angle and tackle attempt from him led to Eastern’s first TD. He had a nice open-field tackle earlier in the game to save a bigger gain.
  • Newly anointed QB2 Jacob Sirmon entered the with about 5:30 left in the fourth quarter to make his Husky debut. His threw his first attempt away but found Terrell Bynum on third down for a nice gain.
  • Probably missing someone, but the true freshmen I saw play: Laiatu Latu, Puka Nacua, Faatui Tuitele, Jacob Bandes, Asa Turner, Trent McDuffie, and Tim Horn.
  • The new uniforms looked good on TV and are an upgrade over N*ke.

Anything else, Dawg fans?