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Grading the Game: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

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Some good, some bad, some in between.

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

What, you want an introduction too?

Quarterback: A

Jacob Eason looked sharp and in command against a not great Hawaii defense. Still, he completed 72% of his passes for 3 TDs and no turnovers. His 37 yard strike to Aaron Fuller is an NFL level throw and his ball to Puka Nacua in the end zone was gorgeous. The coaches called a lot of screen passes and easy completions to get him into a rhythm but he was still aggressive downfield, finishing with over 10 yards an attempt. The OL protected him well and he played smart avoiding sacks. Similar to the Eastern game in week 1, it was what you would expect a QB of his pedigree to look like against a team like Hawaii.

Running Back: B

A solid day for the running backs in which the ball was spread evenly amongst Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew, and Richard Newton, with 8 carries each. It was the best rushing performance of the season with 190 yards on 31 carries, however, I’m not sure this performance tells us much. Hawaii is below average on defense and they didn’t exactly dominate. Ahmed had a nice 40 yard scamper and McGrew had his TD run but I would have liked to see more out of this unit - especially in the 3rd quarter where Hawaii dominated time of possession and UW needed to keep the ball to quell any sort of comeback attempt. Richard Newton looks like a solid red zone option with his hard running helping to punch the ball in at the goal line three times on Saturday. He’s not the fastest but will give the Huskies another option close to the goal line if they struggle there.

Wide Receiver: C

The “big three” for Washington of Aaron Fuller, Andre Baccellia, and Chico McClatcher produced 10 receptions for 106 yards and a TD. And truth be told the TD to Fuller was more on the pass from Eason than it was Fuller getting open and catching the ball. I like Chico as a screen pass option and all purpose player, but Fuller and Baccellia failed to impress yet again. They were ultimately “fine” but ideally you want more against a middling defense. And there’s Puka Nacua, who on his first catch as a Husky caught a 28 yard TD in the end zone. He made it look completely effortless and reminded me so much of Dante Pettis on the catch.

Tight End: A

The Cade Otton and Hunter Bryant duo is going to keep getting high marks this season. As hard as it is to believe that was only Hunter’s 3rd career TD catch. But it was his all around game that was clicking - he caught the ball well as always, ran hard after the catch, and had a great game blocking. No receptions for Otton on Saturday - I expect he’ll have more than couple games without a catch this year - but he helped pave the way for a nice day on the ground for the running backs.

Offensive Line: B

All in all in a solid day for the offensive line. The Huskies rolled up 450 yards of offense on just 57 plays, good for over 7.5 yards per play. They also only allowed one sack and two TFLs. By the numbers a nice day for the OL but not dominant. That 3rd quarter is concerning.

Defensive Line: B

This is a young, but very talented group. Though against a quick passing team like Hawaii, it’s hard for the interior DTs to get pressure. Hawaii also doesn’t run very much, so the DL wasn’t going to have as much of an opportunity to make plays. However, I continue to be impressed by Tuli Letuligasenoa, though he finished with just two tackles. Hopefully Levi Onwuzurike is waiting for Pac-12 play to explode because he’s been anonymous so far, and especially so in the Hawaii game. Overall a solid game for the defensive front, though nothing eye popping - no sacks or TFLs.

Linebackers: C-

All three leading tacklers for the Dawgs were DBs. Against the run-and-shoot offense perhaps that is expected, but you’d like to see a linebacker in there. Kyler Manu had likely his best game as a Husky with 5 tackles and a tip which lead to Cam Williams interception. Manu is a smart player and is usually in the right place but isn’t much of an athlete, and had some opportunities to make a play and couldn’t. Wellington is a nice athlete but isn’t reacting quickly enough to what the offense is doing. Tafisi and Sirmon got plenty of run with the twos but did not overly distinguish themselves. On the outside, Ryan Bowman, Joe Tryon, and Myles Rice did not effect the game much from the pass rush standpoint.

Secondary: B

Myles Bryant is probably the player of the game. He was all over the field and is clearly Washington’s best play maker on defense, right now. He had two aggressive plays for interceptions and was the only one to make a play behind the line of scrimmage. Keith Taylor and Kyler Gordon had 9 tackles a piece, leading the team. And shoutout to Cam Williams for his first takeaway as a Dawg. Elijah Molden continues his strong start to the season and had 6 tackles. Trent McDuffie is a future star and continues to get a lot of reps. Like the rest of the defense, an overall very good, but not great performance from the DBs.

Special Teams: A-

Joel Whitford was great on his punts and I continue to be impressed by him this year. Peyton Henry hit his one field goal attempt from 23 yards and his season of redemption continues. Coverage units were good.

Coaching: B-

Losing 3rd quarters is starting to become an issue. It lost us the game against Cal and while the Hawaii game wasn’t in doubt, it doesn’t help to come out after half time with no momentum and to let the other team score two TDs. Both were long drives of over 50 yards, one of which was 93, and ended with red zone scores. So it wasn’t a single breakdown that led to an explosive play, but dinking and dunking up the field. There’s no reason to panic about the defense, but we are seeing the signs of some growing pains so far this season. Though, linebacker is particularly concerning. Brandon Wellington apparently looked amazing in spring and fall, but I have yet to see him really show up in a game. Offensively, I understand that Petersen has loyalty to experienced players that I’m sure do everything right off the field and look great in practice, but dear lord put Puka Nacua on the field more. Also, target Hunter Bryant in the red zone. I’m sure the offensive coaches reading this will take my thoughts seriously.