A One Gazillion Percent Garbage Rundown of Absolutely Everything
Alright, first off JonDon: I get that you’re trying to take the pressure off Dylan Morris by “leaning on the run” or as scientists call it, “ew no stop it,” but really all that accomplished on Saturday was... let’s double-check... ah, yes: the exact opposite.
Before I dive in, I’ll include the caveat that I think a lot of people talk about analytics in almost a vacuum that, while fun to look at, doesn’t always provide the most applicably practical insights.
I include that caveat because I have some non-metric-ified, but analytics-adjacent two cents that revolve around just the concept of probabilities, maximizing your chances of converting a first on three tries, and the reason why JonDon’s 2nd down up-the-gut running was so frustrating given the Ute-y circumstances.
So: With a redshirt freshman quarterback against a team known for their good defenses — even if they’re rebuilding — why would you expect him to have success when so often putting him in passing downs where there’s one shot and everything has to align close to perfectly for that to work out? Obviously, this was the case over and over as the Dawgs found themselves repeatedly in third and long scenarios.
We also should establish that the two running backs who had more than two attempts were Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant. Subtracting McGrew’s lone 26 yard run since it was a massive outlier, these two averaged 1.4 and 2.8 yards per carry, respectively. That’s what those in the biz call “ass.”
Then, per our friendly neighborhood Athletic reporter Christian Caple, we know that UW averaged just less than eight yards to go on 2nd down. Now comes the part where I don’t dive into any fancy statty nerd analysis but do use basic intuition to know that the difficulty of passing for a first down on eight yards versus seven yards (give or take on both) isn’t game-changingly significant. What is significant is getting only one shot at it versus two.
If we’re taking the Dawgs’ prominent lack of success on first down as a given (which it shouldn’t be, but that’d be a whole other digression), then wouldn’t you want to give your young quarterback twice the chances to keep the drive alive? That is a rhetorical question, and the answer is “Um, yeah.”
tl;dr: DMo’s would’ve had been in a position to better succeed if he was more often given two chances at a first down from say, eight yards out, than just one at seven or even six.
Really, it’s no wonder the offense stalled out.
And beyond just the offense stalling out because of repeatedly being put in these circumstances, the negative effects were compounded by the type of game we get when Utah and Washington play each other where possessions are minimal so wasting one is a bigger percentage of wasted opportunity. Not only is it no wonder the offense stalled out all the time, it’s no wonder Morris threw his first and second and third interceptions of the year; obviously you’re gonna press and make riskier throws when each wasted drive is a huge chunk of the game.
I love me a good ground game. But you’re not gonna out-Utah Utah, and trying to just puts your quarterback in repeatedly crappy scenarios. Which then puts your defense in repeatedly crappy scenarios. Which altogether probably — hear me out here, hot take incoming — is not a great strategy for winning games.
Speaking of: PUKA. MAKE THE EASY CATCHES TOO. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH BUT DAMN YO HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO HANG ONTO A TIGHT WINDOW BULLET WHILE GETTING POPPED LIKE YOU JUST GOT HIT WITH A ST. HELENS EXPLOSION BUT DROP THE EASY STUFF SO MUCH. I HOPE THESE ALL CAPS DON’T MAKE IT SEEM LIKE I DON’T LIKE YOU, YOU’RE AWESOME.
If Puka can fix that very fixable dropsies issue, he’ll turn into the receiver version of Cade Otton: a magical game-saving go-to perfect prince venti extra hot ass-kicker double shot soul-destroying hazelnut one pump extra foam latte. Or, receiver, or whatever. Sorry, I got carried away. The rhythm of what Puka would become just sounded so much like a Starbucks order...
Lastly, while the offense was obviously a ginormo problem for all of the first half and times of the second half, the defense’s flat resistance to finishing plays seemed like a common thread the first half especially the first quarter. That’s not to say they “overlooked” this game or whatever you want to call it, but they looked really unengaged until it became clear this game was gonna be all sortsa hairy, and by then it was almost too late. Or, woulda been too late, had this happened any time in the last 30 years.
For example, take that huge first half breakaway run by one of the Utah running backs — which, sidenote, how on [pick your deity here, mine’s Zee Tee Eff]’s sweet Earth do the Utes always pull incredible running backs out of their wazoo? This has been seamlessly happening since at least Devontae Booker. Sure, they’re running by committee now, but I will bet all my disposable income (so, like, three dollars) that one of those guys is a star by next season at the latest.
What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, for example: that first half run included their RB going through multiple tackles but most importantly, when he finally broke into the open space, there were like four dudes standing around him, knees locked, feet flat, standing completely still, just assuming he was gonna go down. If Saturday was a lesson in anything, it was finishing — on scale ranging from “the tackle” to “the game.”
Lines of the Week
Let’s start off with last Friday, when Oregon fans turned to see all of us watching their sorrow with glee:
Then UW fans at like 6:30 Saturday thinking back to earlier, better times in our life:
UW fans in the first half versus UW fans at halftime turning to fatalist existentialism versus UW fans for the last quarter getting their hopes up again:
Dylan Morris coming onto the field for the final drive:
Yes I realize I used that one last week too.
And then ZTF and Trent McDuffie coming out for Utah’s last chance:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.