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Stuff and Shenanigans: Sling Michael, Sling

Plus one teeny weeny miniscule wee lil’ coaching suggestion out of left field, literally.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Portland State at Washington
This throw right here, officer.
Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is your weekly reminder that intros are stupid, a waste of human mental capacity, and stupid.

Let’s move on to more important things, like:

A 100% Accurate and 97% Sober Rundown on Absolutely Everything

Because I’m still getting used to this feeling, once again thank you to our dear Kalen for making college football — for a whopping two weeks in a row! — something that is “fun” and “a good wholesome time filled with beer that you drink because it’s an atmospheric complement to the whole sitch-iation rather than something to down in place of bleach, which you forgot to pick up last trip to the grocery store.”

I’m still getting used to this feeling after last year turned Washington into a medieval-style torture chamber that made me want to carve out my prefrontal cortex with a melon baller.

Otherwise, thoughts:

Zee Tee Eff and the importance of a good ol’ positional squad

Two things: One, sure, our dude ZTF has had a slow start and that stinks, but generally speaking I’m fond of what we’ve learned during that time — namely, that there’s a solid crew to depend on there.

That’s a decent silver lining, I think, that actually goes beyond being a silver lining and is just a genuine net positive: Jeremiah Martin, Sav’ell Smalls, and especially Bralen Trice are a pretty dang good trio.

And, crucially, they give Washington some leeway to not just depend on one Mr. TF going full dad strength every game.

I don’t want this team to live or die with one star. Simply put, Simo Häyhä notwithstanding, even the most consistent ass-kickers have an off-day. Hell even Gandalf was putzin’ around for a football game’s worth of the Lord of the Rings extended edition, and he had more time than literally the existence of the universe to figure out if it’s possible to never have an off-day.

Before the season I suspected something like this would happen; injury or not, replicating such an electric pace of production from a four game sample size almost two years ago was extremely unlikely — it was almost inconceivable that there wouldn’t be some regression to a mean, and that that mean was not, indeed, the “fuck dudes up so badly it’s a violation of some UN code” that was the case in 2020.

In my opinion, his injury, the time off from that, and his “meh” start (despite technically being in a couple games last season) probably means that this version of his performance is also due for some regression to the mean in a more positive direction for Husky fans.

Long story short, I’m not particularly worried about him getting better, even if I doubt he’ll ever sustain a 2020 productivity level over a longer period. And even if he doesn’t, I’m still not worried about the position as a whole.

Tackling n’ such

I would like it to be better please.

Generally the team looked more settled-ish in this department than last week versus Kent State’s Wilson-esque escape artist quarterback, but still it feels like the back seven aren’t as dependable as you like to see.

Kris Moll especially had a horrible miss behind the line of scrimmage that, although against a running back, reminded me of Psalm Wooching getting embarrassed by Sam Darnold in 2016. (It looks slightly less awful here because it’s in slow motion:)

Good god it’s been six years and I’m still dry heaving at that angle.

Sing Michael, sing

God dayumn Michael Penix, that throw. You know which one I’m talking about, we don’t have to elaborate. Just... sweet Christ that was sexy.

Basically my reaction to our guy Mike is the same as NYPD cop Rosa Diaz’ views on her puppy Arlo. That is, “I’ve only had Michael Penix for a week and a half but if anything happened to him I’d kill everyone in this room and then myself.”

He is beauty, he is grace, he is Miss United States. He is live, he is laugh, he is love. I don’t really know where I’m going with this...

So that’s that.

I mean... unless, like... like say gun to my head I have to pick a thing to criticize which I of course realize this is so minor and I’d never want to imply it even vaguely should overshadow how much he clearly is certifiably awesome but like I mean um maybe there’s one very specific little mechanical thing that could be improved upon just maybe it’s minor it’s not a big deal...


If I have to nitpick one thing.

Well I would perhaps notice that in his throwing motion during delivery he often just kind of floats his right arm out there since he’s a lefty instead of tucking it into his body, which would give him a more compact rotation and lead to a quicker and most importantly more precise, controlled motion but instead the rest of his mechanics are working against that right arm which is the one thing that’s not synced with the rest of him, meaning his feet, legs, hips, core, shoulders, and left arm are ever-so-slightly *takes deep breath* struggling against this “uncontrolled” component of his mechanics and if he were to tuck that right arm in sync with the rotation of his foot, hip, core, left shoulder, and left arm it would mean a more precise motion with less uncontrolled weight to throw off his release even just by millimeters *takes medium-sized breath* which especially under duress can be the difference between a mid-range completion on a crossing route or sailing the ball three-and-a-half inches too high and it being intercepted by a single high safety or other defensive back playing soft coverage.

Just... ya know, perhaps I’d say that. If you put a gun to my head.

Obviously it’s been a non-issue so far otherthanthisoneinstanceofthatexactthinghappeningbutluckilythatwasinagamecontextwhereitwassuchabeatdownitdidn’tmatter, but it could be against stronger pass rushes that keep his base off balance and/or good secondaries that require constant precision (or make you pay when that precision lapses).

This is extremely unorthodox, and obviously I’m biased, but my immediate thought is that Heather Tarr would be a really good resource for Penix to improve this one wee little miniscule just-a-detail-really not-a-priority-necessarily part of his game. Obviously that’s not gonna happen, but her attention to the details of situational throwing off every arm angle and footing and, crucially, the unified mechanics behind these is encyclopedic — and for a quarterback as dynamic as Michael Penix that would be perfectly-suited.

Otherwise he’s perfect and I love him.

Fun blocking crap, et al

First off, the offensive linemen look so much better in pass protection.

And while the run blocking on an individual-by-individual basis maybe hasn’t improved as significantly, it sure helps the overall success regardless by having a scheme that isn’t the rushing equivalent of trying to force a cantaloupe through a soda straw. Wayne Taulapapa had a few instances of very satisfying vision behind a pulling lead blocker — and just being able to refer to an offensive lineman as a pulling blocker after two years of the uninspired tactic of “plop down n’ uh, kinda throw your hands up I guess” makes my heart happy.

After all the hand-wringing of ambivalence over Scott Huff being retained, it’s a sweet thought that maybe, just maybe, he’ll prove our squeamishness wrong.

Yes, I know I know “it’s just the states of Kent and Portland,” but you can only play who’s on the field that day, and under the last staff the line sucked against all opponents no matter how lesser they were on paper, and dominated nobody.

Just wanted to appreciate that for a moment, even if I don’t really have anything to add.

On a related note, shoutout to Jack Westover for shellacking a dude on a key block during that first touchdown run. I love a good tight end running block where a guy gets to go full honey-badger-don’t-give-a-fuq, as was the case with Westy mauling this defensive lineman; all the way from his starting spot, parallel to the line of scrimmage for like seven or eight yards, and then plopping him over well outside where the other tackle had lined up. It’s art.

Lastly, hat tips to Elise Woodward and Max Browne, who I thought were a pretty good team on the call. Way to go local cool people, keep being cool!

Lines of the Week

Portland State’s secondary watching Michael Penix oppo side roll out and then make a Throw From The Gods to Jalen McMillan:

And Penix to said Portland State secondary, I assume:

Oh, and Jalen McMillan later while going 84 yards to da house:

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