For those who haven’t read this column the last few years, I go through each game and chart every single play to give myself access to a number of stats that aren’t widely available to the public. However, this year I’m looking to share that Husky knowledge even more widely. I’ve put together a Tableau dashboard which will have updated results hopefully by the Tuesday night following each game. You can find the link right here.
I’ll undoubtedly be adding some sections and making tweaks throughout the year. Constructive (that being the key word) criticism and suggestions are welcome in the comments. Inside though you can find snap counts as well as advanced receiver, runner, and pass rush stats. You can scroll down to the bottom right to switch between tabs. And you’ll see some of them embedded in the write-up below as well.
He Ain’t Heavy...He’s My Offense
There was a lot of talk in the offseason about the Husky offense under John Donovan being both pro-style and aggressive. In many people’s minds those two things seemed at odds given that aggressive offenses these days are usually spread offenses that attack through the air as opposed to a ground based attack. There’s no question that the Huskies at least in game number one are just as happy to go jumbo as any Chris Petersen-run offense and maybe more so than any the Pac-12 has seen since Stanford of the late-Harbaugh, early Shaw times.
Out of a total of 78 snaps the Huskies had 157 combined snaps from Cade Otton, Jack Westover, Mark Redman, and Corey Luciano. That’s almost exactly 2 of them on the field on average at a time at either TE, as a 6th OL, or at FB. Last year that number was closer to 1.6 with Cade Otton and Hunter Bryant but the Dawgs often lined up Bryant in the slot of out wide. Otton only played off the line 10 times in his 78 offensive snaps and never came off the field.
Even when the Huskies went to a 3 WR set there wasn’t nearly as much space as you might expect. The Dawgs almost never spread out to force the defense to cover the entire field. Often times you would see all 3 Husky wideouts bunched together in the slot on the same side or with 2 on one side and 1 on the other. Almost the only time a receiver truly spread to the wide side of the field was when they went with a 3 TE set and stuck Rome Odunze on the outside.
The Husky defensive line took a hit in the offseason when both OLB Joe Tryon and DL Levi Onwuzurike announced they were opting out of the season. But the Dawgs had reason to think the dropoff might not be that significant. OLB Laiatu Latu and DL Tuli Letuligasenoa both showed major flashes as freshmen a year ago and it wasn’t unreasonable to think they could rise to all Pac-12 level maybe as soon as this year. Unfortunately, both were unavailable due to injury once the action kicked off on Saturday and despite Lake refusing to address their status there’s reason to be concerned about either returning this year.
As a consequence of this we didn’t see nearly as much rotation especially on the defensive side of the ball as normal. Last season none of the Husky defensive linemen played more than 53% of the defensive snaps. Even if you only look at conference play that number hardly climbs any higher. This past Saturday we saw Josiah Bronson playing 97% of the snaps. It probably helped that Oregon State only ran 60 total plays but even so the fatigue likely contributed to Bronson’s poor play (0 pressures and 1 tackle).
The starting outside linebacker pair of Ryan Bowman and Zion Tupuola-Fetui also played more than 90% of the defensive snaps each. That didn’t seem to bother ZTF all that much as he had 3 pressures including a pair of strip sacks. Bowman however only had a couple of standout plays and managed just a single pressure and 0 QB hits. Against teams that throw more often than Oregon State did we’re liable to see a very tired pass rush unless some of the younger guys like Faatui Tuitele, Jacob Bandes, and Sav’ell Smalls are trusted to see more of the field.
Not A Flash In The Pan
The end of the 2019 Husky football season was generally disappointing but two of the bright spots were ILB Edefuan Ulofoshio and WR Terrell Bynum who each took charge of their respective positions over the final 4 or so games. Based on what we saw against Oregon State we should expect to see continued exemplary performance.
Bynum started out his night with a dropped 3rd down that would’ve been a 15+ yard gain and kept a drive going that instead turned into a blocked punt returned for a touchdown the other way. However, he was one of the offensive stars outside of that moment. Bynum ended up with 3.3 yards per route run which a phenomenal number if it were to continue over an entire year. For context, Hunter Bryant was at 2.6 last year and Puka Nacua in limited snaps was at 4.4.
There was also plenty of success when Bynum got the ball on the fly sweep motion. He got 2 carries which resulted in 33 yards. And yet he only averaged 1.5 yards before contact on those pair of carries. Both saw Bynum shrug off contact and continue for 10+ yards. There were a combined 0 forced missed tackles on receptions by the entire team so at least one of the receivers were able to help out in that regard even if it was on a carry.
Meanwhile, Edefuan Ulofoshio had plenty of flashes of brilliance. There were certainly plays where he got lost in the wash or was overly aggressive allowing for kickback lanes for OSU’s runners. There were also plenty of highlight plays. He finished with 3 passes defended after getting 0 total all of last season. The big strength of Ulofoshio in 2019 was his pass rushing skill and he only got 3 chances in this one and didn’t hit the QB but did recover a fumble. There are big concerns about his partner at the inside linebacker position but I’m officially done worrying about Ulofoshio. He’s good. End of story.