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Grading the Game: Oregon State

This ought to be fun.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Pass Defense - A

The Husky pass defense is easily the best part of this team and is arguably playing at close to an elite level. Granted, when teams know they can just run the ball against Washington, it leads to fewer pass attempts, ultimately buoying the statistics. Nonetheless, this is still a group playing largely excellent football and making it difficult for opponents to beat them through the air. Kyler Gordon filled in for an injured Bookie Radley-Hiles and helped the Huskies limit the Beavers to under 50 yards through the air. Almost half of Oregon State’s yards came on one yard completion in the fourth quarter which ultimately lead to the Beaver’s tying the game.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Run Defense - C-

Does it even matter what the letter grade is at this point? The Huskies simply struggle stopping the run. Oregon State had 290 yards total and only 4.5 yards per play. That is not great offensive output and it was all largely on the back of B.J. Baylor and Deshaun Fenwick. They finished the night with a workmanlike 32 carries, 181 yards, and 2 touchdowns. There are moments, however, when the talent of the front seven shines through. Tuli Letuligasena looked as active as he has all season. Faatui Tuitele made an athletic play to wrestle Chance Nolan to the ground forcing a fumble, which put the Huskies in position to score what should have been the game winning touchdown. Despite these flashes, it was too inconsistent for the Huskies.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Pass Offense - D+

Dylan Morris struggled against Beaver pressure on Saturday, finishing with just was 5.5 yards per attempt. He isn’t helped by the play calling and overall approach to offense, but had trouble getting rid of the ball and seeing pressure. It’s hard to tell how much of this was by design, but Washington’s pass game seemed to revert to the 2020 “throw exclusively to the running backs and tight ends” edition of the John Donovan saga. Only 16 targets on 26 pass attempts went to wideouts, none of whom could find much space (save for Bynum’s long touchdown at the start). Odunze had a long of 9, McMillan 16. The progress and hints at innovation we saw against Cal were seemingly not built upon.

Run Offense - B

Someone buy Sean McGrew a drink. After finally realizing he is the best tailback on the roster, coaches rewarded the 6th year senior with 16 carries and he went for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns. On his 39 yard scamper for a score, he broke tackles and showed off his quickness. It was Washington’s first 20 yard run of the season (the last FBS team to do so, mind you). Kamari Pleasant got 12 carries and showed physicality and decisiveness in getting upfield for a hard earned 84 yards. He might have been the surprise of the game with just how good he looked. Cam Davis’ fumble deep in Washington territory brings this grade down from a B+.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon State Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams - B+

Race Porter is having a great season. Nearly getting a punt blocked was bad but Porter showed some playmaking ability to salvage a broken play. Everything else about special teams seems...fine. Washington has not been winning the field position game too much this year but not all of that is on special teams - the offense has to do its part.

Coaching - D

I think I’ve figured it out. Washington wants to play a ball control, possession style of offense lead by a strong rushing attack. When you score, the rules state you have to kick the ball to the other team, which is the exact opposite of keeping possession. Perhaps the distinct lack of scoring in this offense is, in fact, by design. Perhaps.

It is distressing that this is the case, seeing as the run game on both sides of the ball were what this team focused on during the off season. And Jimmy Lake has made no secret he wants running the damn ball to be central to this team’s identity. The play calling continues to be unimaginative and predictable, though they somehow managed to finally put a semblance of a run game on the field.

Defensively, the secondary can’t shoulder the entire load. It feels like the coaches are looking for more answers at linebacker but there simply aren’t many healthy bodies that aren’t freshmen. On offense, the path to success seems more clear. On the other side of the ball, it’s a fuzzier picture.