Coming off a rivalry thriller against Oregon, tonight would have been the perfect candidate for a letdown game in any other circumstances. As it were, the circumstances were “against 2022 Colorado,” which certainly gave Washington some leeway for any emotional hangover.
Despite the Dawgs’ defensive inconsistency this season, Colorado’s anemic offense had little hope of competing with their skill level at any pace that could keep up with Washington’s own offense.
Even with the Huskies’ secondary having a down season, Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout had difficulty connecting downfield, finishing game with 120 passing yards, more than half of which came on one play. Despite leading the offense and playing well, Michael Penix finished with one of his more modest stat lines of the season: 19/31, 229 yards, and a single touchdown. Washington opted to use the running backs in the red zone and finished with five rushing touchdowns, which obviously limited his opportunities.
Colorado started with the ball and the Washington defense forced a punt after seven plays. UW responded with a 12 play, 85 yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead. Colorado was taking the Cal approach of dropping eight defenders into coverage and trying to prevent explosive plays, but Michael Penix Jr. played patient football and didn’t force anything.
Washington’s first half drives were: touchdown, touchdown touchdown, missed FG, touchdown, field goal. Meanwhile, Colorado drives were: punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, and a safety when a snap flew over the punter’s head out of the back of the end zone. The half ended with UW firmly in control, owning a commanding 33-0 lead. Jalen McMillan was impossible for Colorado to deal with, finishing with 8 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown, nearly all of which came in the first half. He also sparked a touchdown drive with a 31 yard punt return.
The second half started with a bang after RB Wayne Taulapapa ripped off a 57-yard run up the sideline - the longest of his career - to get the Huskies on the 5-yard line. But it was all for naught when he was stood up at the goal line on fourth down. Thanks to some improved tackling by the Washington defense, the Colorado offense responded by doing what it did all game - absolutely nothing. Another three-and-out was followed by a Husky touchdown on a short field, and the rout was on. Then RB Richard Newton came into the lineup and promptly took his four carries for 17 yards a touchdown. 47-0, Huskies, and it wasn’t even the fourth quarter yet.
Colorado did show signs of life, when late in the third quarter J.T. Shrout uncorked a 69-yard bomb for a touchdown. Freshman DB Javion Greene got lost in coverage and WR Montana Lemonius-Craig waltzed into the end zone. The game was not in any doubt, so Kalen DeBoer opted to put QB Dylan Morris into the lineup. After a couple completions, a pass bounced off the typically sure handed Jack Westover’s hands into the waiting arms of a Colorado defender.
Washington forced another punt, and then the game entered the “Dylan Morris is completing passes to the walk-ons” part. The 6-5 freshman Griffin Waiss caught a pass, and 5-9 Brennan Holmes lost some yardage on an end-around. A few Morris scrambles later and a pass out of the backfield to RB Sam Adams II and it was 54-7, Washington. From there it was an exercise in running out the clock and getting out healthy.
The defense held the Buffaloes to 202 total yards and just 10 first downs, despite not generating any sacks until well into garbage time (Colorado wasn’t dropping back to pass very often, so chances were limited). Offensively, the game ended with twelve different Huskies recording a catch, and ten receiving carries. Washington’s one and only punt came with 5:51 left in the game.
The ninth win of the season is the most ever for a Husky head coach in his debut, not to mention this win secured an undefeated season at home. Ideally, the Dawgs can take some of this momentum into the Apple Cup next week, where they’ll try to avenge last year’s Jimmy Lake-induced horror show against a Wazzu defense that’s a significantly bigger test. Thank you seniors and Go Dawgs!