Pass Defense - B
The secondary overall played fine, but Kyler Gordon personally gets an A+. He was not only sticky in coverage, showing elite ball skills, he was also physical making big hits. Bookie Radley-Hiles keeps emerging as an athletic playmaker from the nickel spot. Alex Cook is starting to settle into the safety spot and bring some physical play not seen since JoJo McIntosh.
However, this unit did give up 319 yards and struggled at times, giving up numerous 20+ yard completions. Mishael Powell was picked on trying to replace the injured Trent McDuffie, and just goes to show the value he brings when healthy. Chase Garbers mobility extended a lot of plays that might normally have been incompletions.
Run Defense - B
On the one hand, the front did a great job against Cal running back Damien Moore. He had shown excellent vision all season and holding 67 yards on 18 carries indicates the Husky defense was playing run fits correctly. He was averaging over five yards per carry coming into the game and the Huskies held him to 3.7. On the other hand, Chase Garbers proved very difficult to corral despite registering three sacks. He had 71 yards on the ground and his overall athleticism kept the Cal offense on the field. Faatui Tuitele got his second sack of the season and is tied for the team lead.
Pass Offense - B-
This one is a tale of two halves. The Huskies started aggressive and were moving the ball downfield through the air. They got on the board first with a great throw and catch to Taj Davis, who keeps showing strong hands and a willingness to fight for the ball. Devin Culp was getting open and showing off his intriguing blend of size and speed. Rome Odunze finally got in on the action this season, and his size combined with how quickly he covers ground instantly pops out. Jalen McMillan keeps getting incorporated into the offense.
But, after a strong first half Washington wouldn’t score again until the overtime period. Dylan Morris started throwing the ball away more and it seemed like he was being coached to protect the lead. Perhaps nothing encapsulated the frustrating second half performance more than Morris’ decision on 3rd-and-2 with 1:22 left in a tie game. He had Jalen McMillan one-on-one on the outside on a go-route and Taj Davis wide open underneath running a drag. He opted to go for McMillan, and overthrew him instead of taking the easy first down. Cal ultimately didn’t make the potential game winning field goal, but that play could have cost the game.
Rush Offense - C-
This run game is broken, but at least the coaches are finally coming around to the self evident point fans and the media have realized since the start of the season: Sean McGrew is the team’s best running back. It feels like he had a better game than his stats indicate - 16 carries for 53 yards and 2 TDs. With just 3.3 yards per carry it’s hard to say he had a great game but perhaps that is how far the bar has fallen when evaluating this run game. Kamari Pleasant had a fumble but redeemed himself with some hard running during the OT period.
Special Teams - B-
Race Porter had at least one huge punt and keeps playing mostly great this year. Other than Peyton Henry’s missed field goal, nothing else really stood out as particularly good or bad.
Coaching - C
There’s two ways to look at this game. From one perspective, this is a team with an offense that is getting better and managed to beat a team that had confoundedly beat them the past two attempts. It was a hard fought victory against a well coached team that doesn’t fold. On the other hand, Washington has a sizable talent advantage over the Golden Bears and couldn’t put away a team with a struggling defense on the road. The continued struggles of the run game are absolutely on the coaches. This team has more than enough on the offensive line and running back room to put together a competent ground game. Instead, we have eclipsed 100 yards one time this season, against mighty Arkansas State.
This stat has been making the rounds today and bears repeating: Washington has failed to score an offensive touchdown in both halves of six of eight games so far in the Jimmy Lake era. Something needs to change with the approach on offense.