Pass Defense - A
On Saturday, the secondary turned in a vintage Husky performance. Arkansas State got some yards, but were suffocated in every other meaningful way. They were held to under five yards per attempt, no touchdowns, and one interception. Bookie Radley-Hiles was always around the football, and finished with nine tackles, a pass defended, two TFLs, and a sack. Against a pass attack that powered Arkansas State to ninety five points in its first two games, the Husky defensive backs were integral to holding them to just a field goal. They had seven total passes defended and no player had more than one - a team effort. Washington has yet to give up a touchdown pass this season and is near the top nationally in most pass defense statistics.
Rush Defense - A
The Red Wolves didn’t try much on the ground, but when they did, Washington contained them. Running backs averaged 2.6 yards per carry and never found the end zone. Even with Edefuan Ulofoshio playing limited snaps, Arkansas State had a long run of just twelve yards. The Huskies were facing a pass first team through and through but played a completed game and shut down everything.
Pass Offense - B+
Did the Arkansas State secondary get a hand on a Husky wide receiver once in the entire game? Washington came out aggressive throwing the ball and found success. Jalen McMillan had his breakout game as a Husky with 10 catches for 175 yards and a TD. There were still far too many drops, but the downfield passing game that has not worked for the Huskies finally clicked and it helped open everything up. It was a quiet game from Cade Otton but he found himself wide open early for a touchdown to get things started. Taj Davis keeps showing up and had another productive game. The offensive line held up in pass protection and allowed just one sack.
Rush Offense - B
It sometimes feels like it is a higher priority for Jimmy Lake to have everyone believing the Huskies play physical tough-guy ball (as opposed to that sissy RPO stuff) than actually implementing run game concepts that work. This game felt like a departure from that, with the early passing success softening up things for the running backs. Sean McGrew in particular took advantage of his opportunity with two touchdowns on just six carries. It’s still a puzzle why he doesn’t get more touches. Even Kamari Pleasant got in on the action and found some running room. It took adjusting their strategy and a Sun Belt defense, but the Huskies finally found success on the ground this season.
Special Teams - A-
The Huskies were perfect on field goals, and we even got to see Tim Horn take PATs. Race Porter nailed his punts including pinning right at the goal line. Giles Jackson has had a number of kick return attempts but still hasn’t gotten loose.
Coaching - B
John Donavan was relegated to the booth and the offense performed leaps and bounds better than it has all season. We should test if his physical distance from the team is in fact positively correlated with its success by putting him in lunar orbit. There were rumors during the game that Scoff Huff, or possibly Junior Adams was actually the one calling plays. None of that is confirmed but it’s clear the coaches were willing to try something different, and it worked. There were still too many fumbles, drops, and interceptions that will hurt them against a better team. But, progress was made.
Arkansas State isn’t very good, especially on defense, but this played out more like what we might have expected before the season. Washington gets another chance this weekend to exercise some demons when Cal comes to town.