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Grading the Game: Oregon

It was a season defining, A+ win. But, everyone still gets a grade.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Passing Offense - A-

Take a bow, Michael Penix Jr. What is there to say about the quarterback’s magnificent 408 yard and 2 touchdown performance? His 62-yarder to Taj Davis was a pinpoint accurate throw few quarterbacks in college can make or would even attempt, and he threw it on the money, to tie the game. The Huskies were aggressive throwing downfield all night, with only 17% of throws behind the LOS, compared to 39% for Oregon. His accuracy, decision making, and ability to read the defense lead to a stunning 29 yards per play on 3rd and long with a 100% success rate. He was one very ugly red zone interception away from a perfect game. But, after the interception he came out and threw the aforementioned 62-yarder to Davis, arguably the throw of his career so far. He also became the fourth Husky ever to throw two 60+ yard TDs in the same game.

Jalen McMillan snatching away an interception from Oregon CB Christian Gonzalez showed serious heart and toughness, and he finished with 122 yards. Rome Odunze had a quiet game by his standards, but had 6 catches, a couple of which were for first downs. Oregon’s secondary showed some weaknesses this year, and UW’s pass game tore them apart, only needing to punt once.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Rushing Offense - B

As usual, the run game played second fiddle (or third, depending on your perspective) to the pass game, but had its role to play. Things started promising with some decent running from Wayne Taulapapa early, but then the run game struggled finding much rhythm, finishing with 114 total yards. Taulapapa had 37 yards in the first quarter, but just 33 yards for the rest of the game. That said, both Taulapapa and Cam Davis scored red zone touchdowns in a game in which keeping up with Oregon’s offense was going to be critical and every point mattered. They finished averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but removing Penix’s two scrambles you end up with 4.7. Exactly 50% of Washington’s rushes went for at least 5 yards. Ultimately, a solid performance.

Peyton Henry - A+

Per last week’s new rule, you kick a game winning field goal, you get your own A+.

Special Teams - A

Washington’s average starting field position was its own 29 yard line, and only started 29% of plays within their own 40-yard line. That is hard to accomplish without strong special teams play. The Huskies were also heads up on an off-side kick attempt which could have changed the game.

Coaching - A

In year one, Kalen DeBoer delivered one of the biggest wins in UW program history. To put that into context, Washington was 5-25-1 in true road games against top 6 teams heading into Saturday’s contest, with the last two wins coming against #3 WSU in 2002 and #5 Miami in 1994, the Whammy in Miami.

He kept the team steady and focused despite six second half lead changes and constant momentum swings. He managed the game diametrically opposed to his counterpart, Dan Lanning. Whereas Lanning’s aggressiveness that had served Oregon well all season ended up biting them, DeBoer opted to take a more careful and pragmatic approach. UW settled for field goals and took easy points instead of gambling on 4th downs like they had done all year. Frankly, he coached like he was the favorite playing at home.

Yeah, the defense struggled, but this was a huge victory not made possible without the approach and strategy of Kalen DeBoer. Maybe in an alternate universe, Oregon doesn’t fumble in the red zone, they score, and the conservative game plan leads to a close loss. It was arguably a gamble to go away from what was working for UW this season, but it clearly worked out. DeBoer’s coaching tendencies like this will be something to monitor.

NCAA Football: Washington at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Warning: the “let’s bask in the glory of our incredible victory” part of this article is over.

Passing Defense - C

As amazing of a win as that was, you don’t need to be a football expert to see that Washington’s pass defense struggled and gave up its fair share of explosive plays. Dont’e Thorton and Troy Frankling both beat the UW secondary over the top for long touchdowns and met little resistance doing so. They also could have ended the game on the final 4th and 14, but Oregon converted. The pass defense was put in a tough position the way Oregon was generating yards on the ground, but they allowed 9.5 yards per attempt. The Husky defense did not force a single Oregon punt.

Rushing Defense - C-

This is a unit that really struggled, as Oregon churned out over 300 yards on the ground and two running backs had over 100 yards a piece. They averaged a first down on 40% of their rush attempts, and converted 3rd downs on 60% of their attempts. Before contact, Oregon running backs Bucky Irving and Noah Whittington averaged 4 yards per carry, and an additional 2.1 after contact.

The Huskies had their most amount of missed tackles in a game this season, with 12. Speaking of the number 12, that is same number of tackles Asa Turner registered. That’s not a knock against him, but when a team is running as frequently as Oregon, you would rather a defensive lineman or linebacker rack up those numbers, not someone who starts the play the farthest from the player with the ball. They made some plays when it mattered - perhaps Whittington doesn’t slip on 4th and 1 if the UW defense isn’t plugging the running lanes - but it’s hard to look at the overall performance of the run defense specifically and call it a huge success.