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The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown: Arizona

Breaking down the positive and negatives from the Arizona game.

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

The Good

The defense looked elite. With about 11 minutes left in this game, the score was Washington 44, Arizona 6. Arizona didn’t score a point in the first three quarters of this game. After throwing for 286 yards and three touchdowns against USC the previous week, Arizona QB Grant Gunnell had only 50 passing yards on 18 attempts through the third quarter. The coaching staff emptied the bench in the fourth quarter (Arizona’s first touchdown came against most of the starting defense), but the level of dominance that this defense poured onto the Wildcats was eye popping. Five sacks (two from Zion Tupuola-Fetui), seven tackles for a loss, three passes defended, and one fumble recovered. Even without Joe Tryon (NFL draft) and Laiatu Latu (apparent injury), this might be the best pass rush Washington has had since at least 2016.

Dylan Morris on third-down. In his second college game Morris completed 15 of 25 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He looked much more comfortable against Arizona than in his first game against Oregon State, but that’s to be expected for any new player. You look for that jump in performance from a player’s first to second game once they can shake off their nerves and start to play ball. Morris delivered and specifically delivered on third-downs. Morris completed 7 out of 8 passes and threw for 145 yards and both of his touchdowns on third-down. Damn. This guy has some ice in his veins.

Cade Otton. After he collected only one catch in the season opener, the coaching staff clearly made the decision to include Otton more in their offensive game plan to the tune of seven receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. He’s been publicly praised by coach Jimmy Lake for his blocking, but this guy is a dynamic athlete who also has great hands and yards after the catch ability. Young QBs often love their tight ends and Morris has quite the safety blanket in Otton.

The running back room (a.k.a. “the stable”) is stacked. Four different Washington RBs combined for 233 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Arizona. Richard Newton led the way for the Dawgs with 81 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. Some very quick math tells me that that’s an average of 10.1 yards per carry. Nice. Very nice. Sean McGrew actually had the most touches on the day with 11, while Cameron Davis had eight and Kamari Pleasant had six.

The Bad

Special teams issues persist. The unit as a whole performed much better than in week-1, but there are still a few things to clean up. There was yet another running into the kicker penalty, and Peyton Henry missed his second field goal in four attempts on the season. There were also some great special teams highlights, including Kyler Gordon downing two Race Porter punts inside the 5 yard line, and Jackson Sirmon’s successful direct-snap run on the fake punt, so it wasn’t all bad.

Drops. Add four more to the tally. Maybe the video in the following tweet was bad luck for freshman speedster Jalen McMillan? Anyway, I don’t mean to be overly negative here. My personal hope is that they keep throwing to McMillan until they can consistently make the connection for a legit deep threat. At the very least, they’ve shown on film that they’re willing to try, so now opposing defenses will have to cue in on McMillan every time he’s on the field. He’ll start to haul the deep balls in eventually.

The Unknown

Will Thomson play this season? The graduate transfer QB who many thought would be the starter in the season opener was suited up for this game. He never saw the field and Jacob Sirmon entered the game as the back-up in the fourth quarter, but it begs the question of if he’ll be used in any capacity this season. Will they have some special packages that lean on Thomson’s running ability? Even without Chris Petersen on staff, don’t be surprised to see some trickery out of this coaching staff.

Unrelated to the Arizona game, but who will the Dawgs play next? Will the Dawgs even play on Saturday? As of today, it’s looking like it could be the Utes (or mayyyybe BYU?). Stay tuned.

Go Dawgs!