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Stuff and Shenanigans: Garageland Ralphie

Just puttin’ this over here... with the rest of the fire.

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

Intros are generally stupid. They are still stupid, but they generally are too.

Yet still, I have to throw this in here where an intro normally would go. No that doesn’t make this an intro, dammit. I would never, ya know why? Because I’m not a food blogger who will make you scroll through 3,000 words on my great grandpa’s uncle’s cousin’s granddaughter’s neighbor’s cat’s squash farm when all you want is to know is if you can sub brown sugar for maple syrup on your roasted delicatas.

But anyways, this is the official stance of UWDP on Roger Rosengarten:

He is perfect. His vibes are elite.

Moving on.

A 100% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown on Absolutely Everything

First off: I legitimately feel bad for Colorado. I mean... they’re like if “Oof” were a football team.

Anyhoo, that run blocking was a bit better. Still imperfect in short yardage, plus it was against, ya know... Colorado. And it didn’t feel quite as “impose your will”-ish as you’d like to see given our offensive linemen are so clearly awesomer than CU’s defensive line. But ya know what, whatever.

I think the thing that’s been so odd about the offensive line in the running game isn’t that they’ve been bad. They haven’t been bad. They’ve been pretty alright, honestly, just not awe-inspiring. I mean hey, they’re way better than they were last year — not that we didn’t all know some improvement was inevitable after moving on from an offense Queen Victoria once called antiquated.

After considering it for a full 10 seconds, my gut is that the thing that’s made many of us feel underwhelmed by the run blocking is just how freaking killer those same dudes have been in pass protection. Michael Penix has been sacked on average less than half a time per game! That’s so good it’s not physically possible! And this is in an offense where he’s frequently dropping back to pass 40 or even 50 times a game! Hell yeah!

Seriously, when was the last time Washington had pass protection this consistently great? (I’m very afraid I’m jinxing it right now for next weekend. Apologies.) Even in 2016, they were fine, but it wasn’t uncommon to see Jake Browning end up under pressure running in every cardinal direction over the course of a play.

And I think that’s where our disconnect comes from: It just feels impossible to process a scenario wherein the same five guys who are dominant at protecting the quarterback wouldn’t be at least pretty awesome in the run game. (The scale goes 1. Dominant 2. Kickass 3. Super Awesome 4. Normal Awesome 5. Pretty Awesome 6. Fine-Not-Great 7. Not Fine 8. Down Bad 9. Down Worse and 10. John Donovan.)

After all, isn’t that always what offensive linemen say their favorite part of the job is, “bowling dudes out of the way like little ants”? Shouldn’t a team so good at the unfun part of the job be even better at the fun part?

But alas, life works in mysterious ways.

Anyways, I felt like that was worth mentioning regarding their performance this season versus how we might perceive it and how that perception could be influenced by our assumptions towards that position. (And I will add that for the record, I of course would take killer pass blocking and fine-not-great run blocking versus the opposite.) Carry on!

Play your outfield, kids

Last week I mentioned as a throway line what I (still) believe to be a relatively uncontroversial statement, although apparently my belief that this is uncontroversial is, in itself, controversial: That is that the secondary — particularly corners — are a relative liability with circumstances and evidence putting much if not most of that on their coaches.

First off, in defense of said coaches:

Did Jimmy Lake see a legitimate dropoff in talent accumulation once he became head coach, and that’s now the current coaches’ problem? Yes. Has some poor injury luck exacerbated that? Absolutely. Anyone who’s read my crap for even a bit knows I tend to give both players and coaches a lot of leeway about acknowledging how many factors they can’t control, that bad bounces happen, that progress isn’t linear, that the input going into decision-making can be correct and yet other factors can lead to the wrong outcome... etc. I’ve factored all those — plus the scheme itself — into any criticism.

Then again, it shouldn’t take two top 40 picks at corner to prevent, um, this coverage angle:

Apologies in advance to Dyson McCutcheon and especially Jaivion Green, who I’m gonna pick on a moment for this play — they’re both young dudes who are doing their best with minimal experience.

Buuuut in person, Shrout launched that ball and, based on Green’s positioning, I went “Ooh yay an interception!” Then the ball continued and I went “Hmmm whoever that is sure stopped moving instead of tracking it” and then went “Ah.......” and realized my one true dream was dead. I’m speaking, of course, of Washington winning a game 49-0. Shoutout backspindawg.

The glass half-full view would be “Well, at least Green was initially in position to make an easy play on the ball.”

The, uh, other view would be:

It’s not quite as apparent on camera simply because said camera doesn’t pan to that area until a moment later in the route, but Green’s initial placement and trajectory was p r i m e d to make a play; his slowing down plus not flipping his hips, then the resulting angle was so bizarre, I would have otherwise assumed he had lost the ball in the lights — only I don’t really think we’ve ever seen that in football...? On rewatch it looks like part of the source of that cluster was his leverage implications made defending that route trickier.

But it really, really looked like when an outfielder tracks the ball, has it, and then just... doesn’t. While I can consider certain variables contributing to that, like the leverage mentioned above, being relatively inexperienced, etc., I lack the imagination to think of the instruction that made it culminate so funkily. (“Funkily” is a word I just made up and then found out might actually exist.)

In hindsight, it feels like the result of one of three options: Either A) Green was “thinking” too hard about technique vis-a-vis his role in that circumstance, B) he was ill-coached for that situation, or C) he actually did lose the ball in the lights. Realistically, it was probably some combo of the first two.

Of course it didn’t matter because Colorado is That Bad™, but it’s just an example of things from this secondary collectively — across many players regardless of seniority, experience, or former accolades — that make you go “.......................................huh. Don’t love that...” Of course in this singular instance, you could argue both the coaches and player should be judged less harshly given Green’s true freshman status — then again, you could also argue this should be judged more harshly given it’s against The Worst Team in The Power 5. I suppose both those then even each other out, and we should just judge it equally harshly?

Luckily for myself and everyone who has any emotional investment in Washington’s success, I’m not the person responsible for fixing this problem. But it’ll definitely be something I’m keeping an eye on in the offseason; regardless of the magnitude of potential changes made, it would bode well to see at least some staff tweaks or additions.

Unrelated, and to end on a happy note: It made my heart full to see Richard Newton get some touches and score.

I can’t help but feel like the last couple years of coaching transition to pandemic to coaching transition have disrupted him and his opportunities more than a lot of players, but that dude is so fun to watch. Just seeing him barrel through poor unfortunate Coloradans on the sideline, refusing to go out of bounds... To me, that’s cinema.

And then Cam Davis’ flipping touchdown literally — not figuratively literally, literally literally — made my jaw drop in real time. I suppose once you’ve whipped a team’s ass back to yesterday that bad and there’s still almost two full human quarters left, you gotta make it entertaining somehow, right?

Lines of the Week

Colorado, baby, you look like you could use some help like, on an existential, emotional level, so I got you this:

Colorado when Washington wouldn’t stop never stopping:

Truly though, Colorado, summarized:

And yet, my soul when the dream of Washington 49-0 ended:

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.