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30-Day Countdown: Day 3 - Worst Case Scenarios

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What could go wrong in 2020 (besides everything that’s happened in 2020)?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 19 Oregon at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No, this isn’t necessarily the most fun topic. But a large percentage of you are pessimists at heart and this is going to to hit you right where that fuzzy section is supposed to be in your heart. (Note: there’s not actually supposed to be a fuzzy section in your heart. If there is, please seek immediate medical attention).

Today we are looking at what could go wrong. So let’s start with the obvious. There could be a massive COVID-19 breakout which leads to some or many games getting cancelled. We are all aware of it. Even if we’re trying to pretend it’s not looming over us like that shadow that looks suspiciously like a monster coming from my bedroom closet. I just shut my eyes again and try to go to sleep pretending it’s not there.

We’re just talking about results on the field. I’ll go through each of the 5 main phases of the game and come up with what a likely worst case scenario looks like and then ask for your input as to which you think is the most likely to occur. This isn’t just which unit is likely to be the worst. These are recaps from the season in the darkest timeline.

And if you’d prefer to stick with happy thoughts only? We’ll be coming back with best case scenarios tomorrow.

Pass Offense

Kevin Thomson won the starting QB job but he didn’t win the finishing QB job if you know what I mean. That talk about using 2 quarterbacks from Jimmy Lake? Not coach speak. Washington knew what it was doing when it tried to find another quarterback over the offseason but unfortunately Thomson showed that he just didn’t quite have the talent to make the jump from a successful Big Sky QB to a successful Pac-12 one. Thomson threw for just 152 yards with 2 picks in the opener and threw another pair of picks in the first half against Oregon State before getting pulled for Jacob Sirmon.

Unfortunately, Sirmon showed why he didn’t win the job in the first place and he is yanked for Dylan Morris who ended up starting the consolation 7th game. Put their combined stats together and the Husky QB triumvirate puts up an average per game stat line of 205 yards, 1.5 TD, 1.1 INT, 54% completion.

It wasn’t entirely on the QBs though as the offensive line failed to gel with so much youth in the mix and takes an additional blow when Jaxson Kirkland suffers a minor injury and decides to opt out rather than risk additional damage. Meanwhile, the returning receivers also battled injuries and true freshman Rome Odunze led the team in receiving yards somewhat by default.

Rush Offense

The last time there wasn’t an heir apparent at running back it was when Myles Gaskin was a true freshman back in 2015. Unfortunately, the Huskies discovered that a Gaskin-like option wasn’t available this year. Richard Newton entered the season as the primary back but despite being adept at picking up 3rd and 1’s, he put the Dawgs into a lot of 2nd and 8’s when getting carries on first downs. Meanwhile, Sean McGrew missed some time with nagging injuries and Cam Davis still needed time to adjust to the college game after only 2 official carries a year ago.

Jacob Sirmon won the QB competition and his statue impersonations meant you could reliably count on -15 or so rushing yards coming from sacks. Compounding all of that was an offensive line that lost 3 quality starters from 2019 and which struggled to replace them.

Add it all up and the Dawgs averaged just barely over 100 rushing yards per game (107.2) and just 6 total rushing TDs in their 7 games before the bowl.

Pass Defense

This was unquestionably the strength of the team from an objective observer coming into the season but things don’t go exactly as planned. Keith Taylor showed some of the same inconsistencies that he did as a junior and ultimately got benched for Kyler Gordon. While Gordon had one of the more athletic interceptions anyone has seen a Husky pull off, he also had a backbreaking pass interference that helped Stanford convert on 4th down and eventually upset the Huskies at home.

Meanwhile, true sophomores Asa Turner and Cam Williams showed off plenty of potential but both of the Oregon schools were able to get them confused which led to wide open long touchdown passes when the corner thought they had help over the top.

Molden and McDuffie played at all Pac-12 levels but still occasionally get picked on as the lack of Levi Onwuzurike and Joe Tryon resulted in a fairly anemic pass rush. Laiatu Latu ended up leading the team with just 2.5 sacks and way too frequently the opposing quarterback has plenty of time to let their receivers get open. 5 of Washington’s 7 opponents threw for better than 250 yards and the team wound up with just 7 total INTs as a number of passes were dropped by the DBs rather than intercepted.

Rush Defense

The Huskies didn’t quite know what they were missing when Levi Onwuzurike opted to head straight to the draft this fall. Josiah Bronson was the sole upperclassman at DT but he unfortunately suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half against Cal and missed the rest of the year in a compressed 2020. Washington had plenty of talent behind him but young talent is still young and there were plenty of freshman mistakes made. The Golden Bears surpassed last years’ rushing total of 192 and ended up with 220 yards on the ground in a season opening upset of the Dawgs who just couldn’t get off the field in the second half.

Things continued to spiral from there as the vaunted secondary for Washington led to teams pounding the ball against UW. Edefuan Ulofoshio looked more like a former walk-on than he did in the last few games of 2019. And while the ILB play was a little bit better than the abysmal product of last season, it wasn’t by much as none of the redshirt freshmen showed they were ready for primetime. A CJ Verdell 74-yard scamper with 4 minutes left ends up being the difference between the Huskies pulling the upset in Eugene and a 3rd consecutive loss to Oregon.

Special Teams

Peyton Henry was a revelation last season after a rocky freshman season. Unfortunately, he came back down to earth as a junior and completed just 75% of his field goal attempts which is fine but not spectacular. Tim Horn lived up to his billing as the kickoff specialist at least and booted all but one kick out of the end zone in which the Huskies weren’t intentionally trying to kick it short.

Joel Whitford was the winner of the Jake Eldrenkamp award earlier in the offseason as the Husky sneakily most likely to be missed and that came to pass. Race Porter ended up winning the job over incoming Triston Brown but the two traded off time and neither was anything special. The Huskies held on to win but Brown mishandled a punt in the snow in Pullman which directly led to a Wazzu touchdown and made things closer than they needed to be.

Part of the problem on that play? New freshman long snapper Jaden Green who let the ball get away from him a bit and put it outside of Brown’s strike zone. Washington fans never noticed A.J Carty with his exemplary long snapping but Green had several moments where Washington fans got nervous because of some wild snaps including one that led to a blocked extra point against Stanford.

Poll

Which of the above worst case scenarios outlined in the article is the most realistic?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Pass Offense
    (89 votes)
  • 12%
    Rush Offense
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Pass Defense
    (2 votes)
  • 14%
    Rush Defense
    (21 votes)
  • 9%
    Special Teams
    (13 votes)
143 votes total Vote Now