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Game Recap: Huskies Pillage Vikings 52-6

Washington Awakens from FCS Nightmare to Dominate Portland State

NCAA Football: Portland St. at Washington Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

After a dominant opening week victory over Kent State, the Huskies still had several important questions to answer against Portland State, with a Michigan State showdown looming. The Dawgs answered some of those questions in a one-sided victory over the Vikings, but persistent issues in the secondary loom as the schedule becomes more difficult.

The most promising development of the week was the emergence of the running game. More specifically, the offensive line, questionable against the Golden Flashes, manhandled an undersized defensive front. Wayne Taulapapa and Cameron Davis strolled into gaping holes for much of the first half. The passing game, so essential a week ago, took a backseat on the opening drive as Taulapapa did most of the work on his own before Davis high stepped through some arm tackles for the game’s first score.

NCAA Football: Portland St. at Washington Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Penix and the passing game did not take a backseat for long. Even with Rome Odunze seemingly a healthy scratch, Penix soon started to show off his combination of power and precision. He picked out Jalen McMillan for an 84-yard catch and run early in the second quarter that might go down as the team’s longest play of the year. Penix made an even better throw to McMillan later in the second. Scrambling to his right, he dropped a 37-yarder over McMillan’s shoulder on the right sideline. Taulapapa punched in the touchdown on the ensuing snap to go up 28-3.

Penix was not faultless this time around. Kalen Deboer called a pair of timeouts to get the ball back before halftime. Penix overthrew Jay’lynn Polk and the ball was picked off for his first interception of the year.

Despite that misstep, the Husky defense continued to hold serve against Dante Chachere and the Viking offense. The defensive front lived in the backfield, blowing up runs and dropping Chachere repeatedly. Portland State could not contain Bralen Trice, and Alphonzo Tuputala added another sack by the time the game was essentially decided at halftime.

When the defensive line didn’t get to Chachere, another of those lingering questions cropped up. The secondary allowed a handful of big plays against Kent State, which made it a point of focus headed into week two .Jordan Perryman, the top CB on the depth chart, did not play after a leg injury a week before. His absence pushed Mishael Powell to the #1 spot and brought Julius Irvin into the lineup. Similar to the previous week, the defense tested Powell frequently. Receivers got behind him on more than one occasion.

In one sequence, he committed a defensive holding penalty and a defensive pass interference penalty on consecutive snaps. While the longer passes were not so damaging that they kept Portland State in the game, the open receivers deep downfield are a foreboding omen for what more talented opponents might do against the UW defense.

NCAA Football: Portland St. at Washington Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The only thing that changed in the second half was that UW started to cycle in players deeper on the depth chart. Penix found Giles Jackson for a pair of big games on the first drive of the second half and Will Nixon found his way into the endzone. A pair of personal fouls against the Dawgs put PSU in position to kick a second FG of the game, but the Dawgs answered with another TD to crack the 40-point barrier for the second week in a row.

Dylan Morris entered the game for UW early in the fourth quarter and the Dawgs ended a drive with a punt for the first time of the afternoon. The ensuing drive brought Sam Huard on the field for his first appearance of the year. While Huard was not perfect- including taking a big loss on a sack-, he looked more decisive and put the ball in good spots in his limited opportunities. Most positively, his first drive of the year ended with a Denzel Boston TD on a jet sweep, UW’s fifth rushing TD of the game. In addition to Huard and Boston, Richard Newton, Camden Sirmon, Junior Alexander, and Brennan Holmes all got the ball for the offense late.

Going into week three’s challenge against Michigan State, the Dawgs have answered some questions while others remain unresolved. Through two weeks, the offense has shown the ability to do just about everything you would want to see them do. In both games, Penix showed the ability to make good decisions and execute a highly-efficient short and intermediate passing game. This week added a deep threat and road-grader blocking up front to support a good run game. The run defense and pass rush have shown the ability to swallow up offenses and make big plays. The big question against worthy opposition will be whether UW has the quality in the secondary to contain an explosive passing game.