Ya know what, maybe this is the week to write an actual intro here?
It certainly would increase the literary value of this piece of HTML. And it would make me look less lazy.
To the rundown:
A 100% Accurate and 39% Sober Rundown of Absolutely Everything
The thing with this game is that I feel like there’s not much to say about this game. Isn’t it all a confirmation of things we were pretty sure to be true but still needed one more blip of evidence to say confidently?
Actually, I take that back. There was one thing that surprised me.
If you read our weekly defensive and offensive previews, you probably know what it is. Namely, given BYU’s propensity to blanket the passing game while giving up free ground yards, I was confounded that Washington passed as often as they did. But what was much more surprising was that that strategy worked.
I’ll fully fess up to having said the words, “This probably won’t be a huge stat game for Eason.” Which, my lordy am I happy to be wrong. Granted, it’s not like he put up Wazzu numbers, but passing for three touchdowns and almost 300 yards against BYU’s “take what you want running and we’ll just pick passes off all day” defense may as well be.
It’s not like BYU’s suffocating but, until UW, they offered opponents these options: pass for a handful of yards but throw a metric shitload of interceptions, or become too hesitant to pass for anything and stall out worse than a Subaru on Highway 2 in December.
The former: Kedon Slovis with 281 yards and two touchdowns but three whole interceptions.
The latter: Tyler Huntley with no interceptions — hooray! — but a total of 106 whopping yards which is, as two-time swing-and-misser and cryptic-Instagram-captioner Tathan Martell would say, “Ass, my dude”.
And the in-between: Jarrett Guarantano with two touchdowns (not bad), one interception (not ideal but not game-losing in normal circumstances) aaaaand 176 yards (okay, so that interception is probably game-losing now).
Eason is officially BYU’s first opponent to pass for both a relatively high yards per attempt, high completion percentage, high yardage, and a functional touchdown to interception ratio. In German, this is referred to as “geil.” Yes, that word has two meanings. Yes, both apply here.
Considering this, it feels like this year’s offense really, really comes down to the offensive line, even more than all offenses come down to the offensive line. They did a great job on Saturday but, obviously, given BYU pretty much just rushed three players, it wasn’t like their job was all too difficult.
Is this the most obvious thing I’ve ever stated on any topic ever, including the time in college where I gave a presentation that included the sentence, “Being hit by a tsunami would suck hard”? I mean... yeah. But if Eason is given just a couple seconds of a clean pocket sans super clogged passing lanes a la BYU — all evidence points to him making opposing defenses his Belgium-circa-1915.
Otherwise, offensively, Sean McGrew and Richard Newton are my dudes. My defensive preview included the prediction that McGrew specifically would have a good game given his improved vision combined with the fact that he’s roughly the size of a hefty Cornish game hen, but there’s “good game” and then there’s “combining for 190 yards while missing your feature running back.”
Every week, this unit surprises me a little bit more in how well they’ve adapted to life post-Gaskin. For these two especially, their ability to fall forward feels particularly understated. That will — guaranteed — extend drives and subsequently result in who knows how many more points over the course of a season.
Lastly, re: the running game: why am I all the sudden seeing a few comments that are anti-wildcat? This isn’t 2015, and legitimately my brain can’t recall one instance of it being unsuccessful this season, Newton-McGrew fumble notwithstanding. On the contrary, in what would otherwise be halfback dive situations, it feels completely a given that Newton will convert.
On the defensive front, my gut is a bit ambivalent about this performance despite the final scoreboard depicting Washington dominance.
What’s great about the Dawgs’ defense last Saturday is that they actually created and capitalized on a lot of turnovers, hitherto a sore spot until the Hawaii game. What isn’t super great is that, when those turnovers came, the Dawgs needed them bad.
For what its worth, credit to the players who made those happen — obviously fumbles and especially interceptions don’t just materialize out of thin air — but there is a certain amount of luck involved more so than when it comes to the other aspects of defense; a helpful bounce or a tipped ball that isn’t too far out of a safety’s reach, for example. And, furthermore, there were multiple turnover opportunities that didn’t go Washington’s way — two tipped passes just too far for Elijah Molden to haul them in, Keith Taylor’s ridiculous drop of the pass that would miraculously turn into a BYU touchdown, and the Cougars’ fumble that they recovered all come to mind.
But, as a defense, it’s not sustainable to rely on turnovers coming at just the right time if you’re not first and foremost preventing opponents from putting together long drives that prevent “just the right time” from happening first.
For example, on the drive resulting in Brandon Wellington’s scoop and score, BYU made it as far as Washington’s 20 yard line. Otherwise in that first half, they put together drives of 50 yards, 75 yards, and 59 yards, with only one truly successful drive for Washington’s defense where they held the Cougars to six yards and a punt.
The second half was much tighter as BYU became more desperate and the Dawgs settled in, but they still started off the half going 29 yards in three plays before fumbling, and had two drives turning over on downs that went over 50 yards.
It’s also worth considering there were a few drops by BYU receivers who were quite open.
Maybe I’m ragging too much on this defense considering they held BYU to 19 points and could’ve held them to even less had Taylor not magically tipped a serendipitous would-be interception to Matt Bushman in the end zone but, especially in the middle of the field, there’s work to be done.
And, don’t get me wrong, this unit feels incrementally better each week and there’s certain aspects whose growth is mega exciting, it’s just worth remembering that they weren’t as dominant as the score disparity would suggest.
To end it on a high note, the good:
- Benning Potoa’e fits wonderfully as an actual defensive lineman
- Ryan Bowman didn’t have such an amped case of overcommit-itus
- Elijah Molden continues to crush passing games’ hopes
- Young guys did some stuff that was certifiably optimism-inducing
- In general, the defensive line interior is holding their own and getting better every week
Lines of the Week
An artists’ rendering of a BYU tailgating menu:
Clearly the Husky mantra going against Cougars this weekend:
Jacob Eason when he decided to show off that it is actually possible to make a football hit warp speed:
Seriously, if we all get vaporized, it won’t be from The Big One or a North Korean missile, it will 100% be the result of an Eason bullet.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.