Chris Petersen’s final game never should’ve been a made-for-reality-TV event like this. But it was.
The Huskies did the one thing they could do to control the narrative of the Sun/Las Vegas/Whateveritwas Bowl last decade - the dominated the game on both sides of the ball, starting at the line of scrimmage.
Football fans could say that “it shouldn’t have been this easy,” since Boise State was the ranked team boasting double digit wins, but in a season replete with underachievement and inconsistency, it was either going to be exactly this easy, or way, way, WAY tougher. Husky fans would’ve probably rather seen this type of performance against Oregon (duh) or Utah (probably) in the regular season, but seeing it at all is what we’ll have to take as we launch the SS Jimmy MontLake.
Film at 11. Or 6. Or 9:30. This is the internet, you can watch whenever you want.
1st and 10:
The old saying is that if you’re playing two QBs, it’s because you don’t actually have even one. That was definitely the case for the Broncs in the Whatever Bowl last decade. Freshman Hank Bachmeier was the season’s starter until an injury forced him to miss the last four games. Senior Jaylon Henderson replaced him, and performed well against mostly-not-great competition to conclude the season. Bachmeier was healthy and earned the start, but Henderson was going to get some snaps...
He’s in here, and Boise State is running a “lead zone” play; which, with all the extra commotion, is a zone read, but with a fullback lead blocker. The jet motion is window dressing. In this instance, it appears the fullback is set to close off the potential back side pursuit opportunity from OLB #55 Ryan Bowman, on the defense’s right side. While Bowman would typically have the outside containment on this play, with the extra defender in the backfield, that responsibility shifts to Nickel Back #3 Elijah Molden, who is cheating up as the jet motion comes toward him.
Unless this was a called QB run all the way (possible), the play here was the handoff; Washington’s inside linebackers are in position to make the play, but they still needed to prove they could get there (and Husky fans know the adventure that has been all season). The keep is largely dead to rights, as Molden is unblocked and ready to make the play (and one of the best defenders on the field, for either team). Maybe Henderson thought he could get to the corner, but starting from a dead stop, that’s a tough task. Bowman does a nice job of reading the play and helping out, but yeah, this was just really good defense from Molden to pick up the tackle for loss.
3rd and 12:
This play makes the film study solely for the dynamic pass rushing effort from Joe Tryon, who somehow magically put roller skates on Boise State’s right tackle just before the snap.
The OTs drop is actually okay, but Tryon manages to make his first, really hard, contact with the tackle right as his feet are off the ground. Then it’s just a continuation of implementing those fantastic physical gifts - the speed and power mortals like us lack - to push the tackle straight back into the QB’s lap. While the result isn’t a sack, it’s a nice consolation price - an errant throw with zero chance to be completed.
Joe Tryon started 2018 slowly, and was playing really good football by the end of the year. 2019 saw high expectations for Mr. Tryon, and I doubt he’d say he met them early on. But by the end of the season, again, he looked like a guys that was set to be a dominant force as a defensive playmaker. He’s only a junior in 2020, and even if progress isn’t linear, we can hope that he continues to build on the conclusion of 2019.
3rd and 2:
When the wildcat looks like this, it’s a bona fide weapon in the Huskies’ arsenal.
This play is a “power lead”, meaning it’s a power run (note the pulling right guard, #66 Henry Bainivalu), with the split back serving as the lead blocker. There’s no read aspect to this play, it’s a keeper all the way.
Boise State’s inside linebackers don’t attack this play very aggressively; at least the one away from the play. By the time he decides to do anything, the ball carrier (RB #24 Richard Newton) is already past him. While the safety that has coverage responsibility on Washington’s tight end (can’t see the number, but he’s just outside the left tackle) attacks the play once it’s clear the tight end is blocking, he mostly just goes kamikaze, like he’s running toward the line yelling “AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!” as loud as he can as he goes.
From behind, we can see what really makes this play fun to watch. Bainivalu pulls a double helping of pancakes on the play, decleating both the play side inside linebacker, as well as our kamikaze safety. That’s always worth a highlight. Good patience by Newton as the ball carrier; he waits for Bainivalu to clear before hitting the hole. But it’s a pretty easy run after that, as the offensive line pretty much has things under control. Special kudos to WR #10 Jacob Eason for one hell of a block up at the top of the
3rd and 8:
This is a toss sweep to the boundary (short side of the field) with a little pin-and-pull action from the tight end (#87 Cade Otton) and left tackle (#70 Jared Hilbers). While this is a really nice play call on 3rd and 8 in a game that the offensive line is dominating, and a good run by Richard Newton, there are several really nice blocks that deserve to be highlighted.
First is the receiver #4 Terrell Bynum on the left side. His man eventually falls down, but that’s a dominant win for Bynum. Second is LG #76 Luke Wattenberg, who is out like a rocket toward the play side inside linebacker. Wattenberg visits much destruction on the Broncos on this play. The pin (Otton) and the pull (Hilbers) are both solid wins for the Huskies. RG #66 Henry Bainivalu makes another spectacular play here, as he comes all the way across the field to take out the back side inside linebacker, and really ensure that Newton has the space to pick up the required yardage plus a little bit more. Great hustle all around, with a special kudos to both of the guards.
From behind, you can really see the work done by Wattenberg and Bainivalu. But everyone is going to get a plus on this play come film review with the coaches. Except the QB, who doesn’t carry out his fake. Hopefully that guy gets beat out next season.
1st and 10:
For all the grief that Bush Hamdan took in his time as the playcaller at Washington, he deserves a little credit for this one. This is a really slick little end around, and the action of the offensive line almost turns this into a counter run.
That’s TE #37 Jack Westover coming in motion to the left side, as the H-back. At the snap, he and LG #76 Luke Wattenberg pull to their right, and “lead” the fake handoff to the deep back (#24 Richard Newton). Meanwhile, C #56 Nick Harris, RG #66 Henry Bainivalu and RT #79 Victor Curne (?) all pull back to their left as the convoy for WR #6 Chico McClatcher.
Great design that all but guarantees McClatcher the first 10 yards, but requires a little more speed than Westover has, in order for him to get from his original misdirection action all the way to his potential second level block. But it’s nice to see McClatcher get to make the positive play, and just a really nice design as well.
2nd and Goal:
Better to be lucky than good.
Boise State puts four receivers into the route to occupy Washington’s secondary, then comes back underneath with a shovel pass to the running back who showed that he was staying in to pass block.
Whether it’s a designed slant or just freelancing, DT #8 Benning Potoa’e is the first issue here, as his rush takes him right out of the path of the play. Had he stayed in the middle of the field, this play has a much lower chance of success.
Washington’s inside linebackers read the play action and then quickly drop to their short zone coverage. #43 Jackson Sirmon is on the wide side of the field; he drops and reads, and sees the shovel pass. As he comes up to make the play, though, he runs into the back of the umpire, who has also seen the play (blockers and ball carrier) coming right at him, but has to do that “old man shuffle” to get out of the fire zone. Sirmon likely makes this play somewhere around the three or four yard line without the block....At the very back of the play, neither safety makes a particularly great effort to come up and attack the ball carrier. A 24-0 lead will do that to you sometimes....
3rd and 3:
3rd and 3, and the Huskies are playing three true defensive tackles (from defensive left to right, it’s #95 Levi Onwuzurike, #94 Sam Taimani, and #90 Josiah Bronson). People will call this a “bear front,” or a “double eagle,” but the Huskies are doing it out of a 3-3-5 personnel group. Even with that five man front, the Huskies are blitzing NB #3 Elijah Molden, who’s cheating to the ball right before the snap. Even with all that size up front, it’s only that late blitz that keeps the defense from being pretty light in the box (six men) on the play.
At the snap, the first thing to note is that Sam Taimani has a pretty unglamorous job. He, at least briefly, has to deal with a triple team from Boise State’s offensive line. Next, Onwuzurike and the OLB on that side (either #55 Ryan Bowman or #56 Laitu Latu) are both held pretty blatantly (Onwuzurike doesn’t seem particularly pleased). Third, that OLB does a really nice job of taking on the hold and making the play prior to being hog tied to the ground.
1st and 10:
There aren’t many human beings that can do this.
This play looks like the Huskies are setting up the throwback to the running back (#24 Kamari Pleasant) off of a pseudo-bootleg. Pleasant gets caught in the wash and can’t get down field. The rest of the route has receivers running to the opposite side of the field than the QB movement, creating high-risk, not-terribly-high-reward throws. Unless you have an arm like Jacob Eason.
This ball travels 28 yards down the field and about 30 yards horizontally. Busting out Pythagorean Theorem, the ball travels roughly 40 yards, on an absolute rope. Accurately, to a receiver running mostly away from Eason.
We only got to see it for a single season, but it’s still pretty fun to watch.
It’s also a pretty non-essential attribute for a QB, except on throws like this one. It’s one of the things that will serve Jacob Eason well on draft day, but it certainly did nothing to overcome the other, glaring, limitations with the passing offense.
In terms of QB experience, Washington is seemingly going the wrong direction, as they will enter 2020 with their third straight different starting QB. And no matter which of the QBs on the roster wins the job, he’s going to be the least experienced of any Husky QB since 2015.
Lots of Huskies played (or sat out) their final games of their Husky careers in the Whatsitcalled Bowl. Here’s hoping that they have long, successful careers in whatever it is they choose to do next, whether that’s attempting to play professional football or something else entirely. And one final hat tip to the man that brought them all together, but would want no part of a curtain call. Thanks, Coach.
On to the waiting game. On to 2020. On to the Jimmy Lake era at Washington. Go Huskies.