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Three Things We Learned: Colorado

Of all the games the Huskies have played, that was one of them

NCAA Football: Colorado at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start out with a caveat. It’s hard to learn a lot when you play one of the worst teams in the country and you beat them about as badly as everyone thought. So this is going to be one of the shorter additions of Three Things We Learned that I’ve written.

1. It’s (not) a Trap!!!

I mentioned in my game preview that against basically any opponent in the conference other than Colorado I would’ve been worried about this being a trap game. (However since it was Colorado I thought Washington would merely allow a back door cover of the 30+ point spread). Washington just came off one of their most emotional victories in years against their bitter rivals. Next week they’ll have to travel to their in-state rival looking for revenge after an embarrassment at home. Trap game?

Nope. Coach DeBoer had the team ready and motivated as they didn’t take their foot off the pedal on the way to a 33-0 halftime lead. The statement was made early when the Huskies went for it on 4th and 1 in their own territory on the first drive. This is a spot where UW has often struggled this season and they easily ran up the middle for a first down. There was essentially no way that Colorado’s defense could fail to give up at least 10 yards on 4 consecutive plays from the Huskies.

There were some signs of Washington maybe not taking things quite as seriously. Jalen McMillan multiple times ran backwards, risking losing a first down, with the ball to elude defenders. He was too electric in this game for it to matter though as McMillan looked like he was running through a gaggle of 6th graders every time he had the ball. PFF credited McMillan with 9 missed tackles forced which doesn’t even include his 30+ yard punt return. Ridiculous.

Also a shout out to Wayne Taulapapa for having a great game with 11 carries for 107 yards and 2 TDs a week after several of his former teammates at UVA were murdered. Wayne was inches away from a 3rd TD and it would’ve been awesome to have seen him get it but he still played extremely well with a career long 57-yarder.

2. Have Some Mor-ris

The game thread shows that Husky fans once again were eager for the potential of Sam Huard entering the game for mop up duty late in the 3rd quarter. Despite Morris having been the next quarterback in the game every other time Penix has exited this season. And sure enough we saw all Dylan Morris as soon as Penix was given the rest of the night off.

Morris threw an interception but anyone who was watching the game will know that wasn’t Morris’ fault. The ball was perfectly placed for Jack Westover who dropped it and it bounced to a defender who made the pick. It was interesting to see what Morris was able to do with his legs as well. Washington’s offensive line was so under siege last season that we saw it less than in 2020 but Morris has the ability to pick up yards as a scrambler. He gained 32 yards on 4 carries including a 23-yarder. Penix hasn’t been willing to do much running this year and while whoever replaces him as UW’s QB will almost certainly be worse as a passer, there’s a chance they could be a big upgrade in the running game.

All things considered it wasn’t a great night when Penix was in the game for the passing offense. Jalen McMillan found openings against the zone but Penix averaged just 7.4 yards per attempt versus a previously porous secondary as he looked for deep shots that weren’t there with 8 defenders often dropping back into coverage. Rome Odunze had his quietest game of the season with just 2 catches for 17 yards.

3. The German Front

It’s always fun when some of the younger guys who haven’t played all season get a chance late in the year during a blowout win. We usually don’t see the development that happens for your 4th stringers between September and November. I remember late in 2019 there was a play where Zion Tupuola- Fetui was able to meet a ball carrier in space and made a ferocious hit. It was a flash play that told me, okay there might be something here for a player that was otherwise unknown before that. Sure enough he had one of the all-time great 3-game stretches for a Husky defender in program history to start off that weird 2020 season.

On Saturday we saw several bright spots from German OLB Maurice Heims against Colorado. First, the Buffs had a broken play when the ball was snapped while the QB wasn’t looking. A pretty standard miscue typical of what we saw all night from Colorado. Still, the running back picked up the ball and almost made something happen. Heims was on the edge being held such that he could only get one hand on the ball carrier. That was enough though as he grabbed hold of the jersey and brought him down with one arm. Shortly after that Heims was able to get his first sack on an impressive pass rush move.

When Washington signed Heims they knew he would be a developmental project. He picked up football very late after moving to the US but had the physical tools. Granted it was against Colorado while up 47 points in the 4th quarter but he had 4 pressures and a sack in 9 pass rush opportunities and 1 TFL on 4 rush defense plays. There’s a chance the Huskies lose all 3 of Bralen Trice, Jeremiah Martin, and ZTF after the year and there will be a big hole at the OLB spot. Hopefully this game was a sign that Heims will be ready to step in when his name is called.