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Grading the Game: Arizona Wildcats

The usual good and bad for Washington we’ve come to expect.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Passing Offense - A

No need to overcomplicate this one. QB Michael Penix set a school record for passing yards in a game with 516, tossing 4 touchdowns along the way and completing over 80% of his passes. WR Rome Odunze became the first Husky ever to have four-straight games with 100+ receiving yards with an eye popping 9 catches for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nine different players caught a pass. Oh, and the pass protection continues to be stellar, allowing zero sacks against Arizona.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 Arizona at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rushing Offense - C-

It didn’t need to be great because the pass game was so effective, but outside of few moments, the run game was fairly underwhelming. In particular, the Huskies struggled in short yardage situations as Wayne Taulapapa and Cam Davis were each stopped on 4th and short carries, swinging a ton of momentum back to Arizona. Cam Davis did have a very nice 19-yard touchdown run but no other back had a run longer than 9 yards. Against an Arizona defense that was letting teams run all over them, Taulapapa averaged just 1.8 yards per carry. I like Sam Adams getting more involved in the offense, as he seems like he could be a multi-dimensional threat out of the backfield, giving UW more explosion in the run game.

Passing Defense - D

Even taking the injuries into account, this is a struggling unit. It wasn’t just the secondary - despite bringing Arizona’s Jayden de Laura down four times, he consistently was able to break loose and find open receivers. Per PFF, Washington got pressure nearly 50% of the time, but de Laura was able to escape and find open receivers more often than not. This was a game in which UW needed to contain - not necessarily sack - the quarterback and they failed to do so. That isn’t to take anything away from the individual effort of Jeremiah Martin and his 9 tackle, 2 sack performance. He now has 5 sacks on the season, after entering the season with just one in his entire career.

Arizona’s receiver trio of Tetairoa McMillan, Dorian Singer, and Jacob Cowing will look really good against most teams on Arizona’s schedule, but it doesn’t hide the fact they were dominant against Washington. They helped de Laura finish with 4 touchdowns and a higher yards per attempt metric than Michael Penix (albeit slightly, 11.8 to 11.7). At this point, the numbers put Washington last in the conference in yards per attempt allowed, and 17 allowed touchdowns ranks near the bottom nationally.

Rushing Defense - C+

If you take out de Laura’s scrambling and consider that a pass defense metric, Arizona had 20 rushes for 85 yards and one touchdown. That’s over 4 yards a carry for a team that primarily throws the ball. Like Washington’s run game offensively, it didn’t have a huge impact on the outcome of the game, but you would like to have seen Washington really shut down the Arizona ground game.

Special Teams - B

Washington leads the country in fewest punts per game, so there are few opportunities for P Jack McCallister to pin opponents deep, but he did send his one attempt 50 yards. K Peyton Henry missed his first field goal of the season, a 47 yarder, but was perfect on PATs. Kick off coverage going both ways still feels just so-so.

Coaching - B

The fourth down decisions are frustrating in the moment but are a byproduct of this offense staying aggressive. That said, they seem to enjoy going into heavy packages in those moments, when this is not a team built around power running. Maybe the answer is wildcat, or maybe they shouldn’t overthink things and just keep passing. But, 49 points is 49 points. Washington is averaging over 42 points per game and does not feel like a fluke.

This was absolutely a losable game for UW, with Arizona nipping at their heels for four quarters, getting within 3 points with about 10 minutes left in the game. Credit to the coaches and offense for keeping their collective foot on the gas to stay ahead.

The Huskies are now 5-2 and face everyone’s favorite Cal Bears this Saturday in Berkeley. Go Dawgs.