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Grading the Game: BYU Cougars

A resounding victory on the road in UW’s final non-conference game of 2019.

NCAA Football: Washington at Brigham Young Melissa Majchrzak-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback: A

Um, wow. There isn’t much to say other than Jacob Eason looked simply incredible on Saturday. He was poised and in control being both aggressive downfield when it was there and checking down when it wasn’t. He tossed 3 TDs and only missed 4 passes all day. He had multiple jaw dropping throws, with his bullet to Aaron Fuller for a TD getting the most acclaim. His first touchdown to the corner of the end zone, rolling to his left, is not a throw many QBs in college (or even the NFL honestly) can make. He also had a nice 24 yard dart to Cade Otton across the field, showing off that arm strength yet again. He distributed the ball well too, with six players catching at least two passes.

Running Back: B+

Without Salvon Ahmed, Sean McGrew and Richard Newton carried the load and had a nice game, with McGrew eclipsing 100 yards for the first time in his career. They each averaged over 5 yards a carry and found the holes that the OL opened for them. Richard Newton continues to see his role expand and he showed his value in the red zone on Saturday, with both a rushing and receiving touchdown inside the 20. The catch was particularly impressive, keeping both feet in bounds to haul in the Eason pass. This grade probably would have been an A- without the two fumbles. Neither spelled doom for the Huskies, but holding onto the ball is possibly the most important trait for a RB.

Wide Receiver: B

Overall, a solid game for the WRs. Aaron Fuller led the way with 8 catches for 91 yards including the bullet he caught in the end zone from Eason while absorbing some contact. Andre Baccellia found himself in the end zone again vs BYU - which is notable because after scoring exactly one TD in his first 3 seasons, he has two in the last three games. Hopefully this is a sign of Eason’s play elevating his game. In any case, Baccellia has always had speed, and it was nice to see him catch a slant and race into the end zone. No one else was needed, but Aaron and Andre were the only two WR to catch a pass in the game.

Tight End: B+

Another great game for the Cade Otton and Hunter Bryant duo. They both blocked well and showed natural pass catching ability, with Bryant in particular showing off his explosiveness. Neither caught a TD but were constant outlets for Eason over the middle and underneath.

Offensive Line: B+

Probably the best overall game for the OL this season, against a good BYU DL. They gave Eason all the time he needed in the pass game, while giving up zero sacks, with just 3 TFL. There were a few penalties to clean up, and they are not quite playing at a dominant level - but they are clearly one of the strengths of the team and are making life much easier on the skill position players.

Defensive Line: B

Benning Potoa’e had a great game and his move to the interior of the DL has been paying off - he had another two TFL with a sack on Saturday. Levi Onwuzurike has been relatively quiet so far this season but showed signs of waking up against BYU, with 4 tackles and .5 TFL. Overall the DL did its job and helped hold BYU to just 2.9 YPC, but could have done better at times wrapping up in the backfield. It’s a great start that they are able to penetrate, but they have an opportunity to finish more of those plays.

Linebackers: B

In the middle, Kyler Manu and Brandon Wellington totaled just 5 tackles between the two of them. However, Wellington showed some big play ability with a 69 yard scoop and score, which blew the game open in the first quarter. On the outside, Ryan Bowman had one of his more active games of the year, and it was sack of BYU QB Zach Wilson that lead to Wellington’s TD. Overall the linebackers were solid but did allow too many passes over their heads and just 4 total TFL is not great (though that is not all their fault, obviously). Laiatu Latu continues to stand out in his limited reps.

Secondary: B

Yet again, the secondary led the way with tackles in a Husky game. Myles Bryant had 9, with Molden, McDuffie, and Williams tied with 4 a piece. There was a lot to like about this performance - holding a playmaking QB like Zach Wilson to just 6.6 yards per attempt and one passing TD is positive - but allowed way too many long completions. They emphasized keeping the ball in front of them, but it lead to four completions over 20 yards, plus two others of 18 and 19 yards. Perhaps against teams with more explosive play makers on the outside, that would cause more problems for the Dawgs. But three turnovers - including an Asa Turner interception and Trent McDuffie forced fumble - helped hold BYU to just 19 points. Speaking of McDuffie, he might be the best pure cover corner on the roster right now. Finally, shout out to Elijah Molden, who couldn’t quite secure an interception but had 4 tackles and 4 pass break ups. He continues to have a stellar start to the year.

Special Teams: A

Punt return TDs are now a thing for Washington! It wasn’t just Fuller’s 88 yard return TD, but Special Teams feel totally different so far this year. Thankfully the Huskies only had to punt once, but Joel Whitford sent it 37 yards. Peyton Henry is now 7-7 on the season on FGs, while coverage units in all phases feel drastically improved compared to last year.

Coaching: A-

The Huskies started off strong and didn’t look back after taking a 21-3 lead in the first quarter. After having bizarre third quarter meltdowns this year, the Dawgs erupted for 3 TDs after halftime, putting the game to bed early. There are still some lingering concerns - how the receivers will perform against more athletic competition- but the team looked focused, physical, and in control. Without arguably the best weapon on offense (if it’s not Eason or Bryant) in Salvon Ahmed, the coaches had Sean McGrew and Richard Newton ready to go. The defense clearly had a plan and didn’t let Zach Wilson do enough to win the game.