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Stuff and Shenanigans: Splash City Rockers

It’s nice, having nice things again.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Michigan State at Washington Photo by Jesse Beals/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Did you know intros are silly? It’s true. It’s science.

Let’s not, and instead:

A 82% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything

This is where I’d put another, smaller intro to this section. But I’m not going to, because I’m a dictator who doesn’t follow “best practices” and “things that smart people do.” A benevolent dictator, but a dictator nonetheless.

Thoughts on defense that may make you think I just smoked a whole joint even though ya girl doesn’t do that anymore because when she gets stoned it’s bad times

In case you missed it, I already dove into some weird lil’ philosophy of defense crap two weeks ago just to muse on inevitable defensive — nay, full team — flaws (unless you’re, like, Georgia) and how to theoretically minimize their impacts in the grand scheme of things.

I mentioned it there, but obviously I enjoy seeing an approach to the front seven (or six or six point five or whatever you want to classify this nickel-ish as) that’s so much more well-rounded. This well-roundedness is particularly nice regarding improvement against the run, given that this offense’s potency means a team being able to drain the clock via the run and limit Washington’s possessions would be a key move in defeating Penix and Co.

The above is a slightly updated summary of my hunch after week one. And generally I’ve enjoyed each week getting another nugget of evidence furthering our understanding of DeBoer’s philosophy of how not just the defense and offense platoons should support each other, but how the units therein facilitate this.

Hence why I now even more strongly agree with my post-week one self regarding the blueprint of this defense and its relationship with the offensive philosophy. That is, the approach is essentially acknowledging yes, our defense will be imperfect — like 99.99999% of defenses — so how can we place those imperfections in such a way that they don’t work against us?

“Don’t let the other team score — but if they must, let it be quick.”

The Kalen DeBoer philosophy versus the Jimmy Lake philosophy reminds me of the football versions of Hank Gathers-era Loyola Marymount versus Tony Bennett’s modern day Virginia; both are the theoretically valid approaches of either A) maximizing possessions or B) slowing down the game, only DeBoer actually has conceived of offensive and defensive roles that work in unison with each other.

On the flip side, consider that from 2015 to 2021, Washington’s signature as a program was a secondary that would demolish your air attack and make you weep tears of sorrow in the process.

One would think then that a complementary offense would want to force opposing offenses to throw it as often and early as possible. Ya know, help their defense out n’ such. Force their opponent to attack their overwhelming strength. A strength that would almost universally crush their opponents into oblivion, were said opponents stupid — or desperate — enough to attack it.

In order to work in unison with said defense, wouldn’t the blueprint for said offense — with extremely talented skill position players, no less — be to maximize space both on an east-west and north-south plane to give those playmakers room to out-talent their opposition, score as efficiently and frequently as possible, and force their opponent’s offense to pass, attacking a secondary that will almost invariably win that matchup?

Yeah, you’d think it would be.

Instead Jimmy Lake’s two platoons did... not that... but worked against each other horrifically and the result was... no, let’s not think about that. We’re in a happy place.

Fast forward to this year, and that’s why I’m not too gutted about the secondary dropoff.

Because once again: “Don’t let the other team score — but if they must, let it be quick.”

If the opposing offense absolutely must score, don’t compound that damage by keeping the ball out of Michael Penix’s hands for eight minutes. None of those gee dee five yard-at-a-time death by paper cut-ass half-quarter-long drives of Ye Olden Times.

All this to say *ahem* shifting the defense’s position of strength forward is A-okay in my book. Even better if Julius Irvin ends up taking over at corner and continues to improve.

But wait! There’s more!

Not only does this defensive philosophy complement the offense’s vision, but if you call within the next 10 minutes we’ll throw in— wait, no wrong... everything.

What I was going to say, was that not only does this defensive philosophy complement the offensive one, but this offensive philosophy helps out the defense by way of “the best defense is a good offense,” too. Personally, I find it lovely seeing a team become another data point in favor of that.

Yet instead of being an Xs and Os, time-space continuum-based complement, this is based on simple human psychology and fallibility.

Take, for example, the question of “Why is Joe Burrow so good?” and one of the main answers is “because his heart rate always stays the same.” You know, like a serial killer.

That’s the case with, well... very few people.

I say this because, of Washington’s opponents, most will have a disadvantage on either scheme, talent, or both. That means most will end up playing from behind at some point in a game, with the constant, imminent threat of that gap extending. Or, when they’re not behind, they know that won’t last — unless they continue playing very, very well. Consistently. For four quarters.

This of course begs the question: How many quarterbacks have the combo of genetic sociopath-adjacent, heart rate-lowering, stress-not-giving-a-shit-about-ing makeup and mental acuity to make the right decisions and execute them under the compounding duress of constantly having your back against the wall?

Sociopaths like Joe Burrow notwithstanding, people tend to not be at their best when they’re always on their heels. And few things put you in that position more than having no margin for error — and knowing it.

Put shortly, the marriage of Penix and DeBoer forces opponents’ offenses to be clutch. And despite that coaches wouldn’t publically admit it, their quarterback usually isn’t as clutch as they’d claim.

Even Sam Darnold, it turns out, would have wanted it any other way.

Turns out maybe retaining Scott Huff was a good idea?

I’m extremely nervous about speaking too soon on this, BUT. How great would it be if, after all the LarryDavidMeh.gif reactions Washington fans had the last six months over Scott Huff being kept on staff, it turned out to be very much the right call?

I’m furiously knocking on wood right now, but dare I sense a wee bit of optimism — even happiness? — in the depths of my brain somewhere between “kittens” and “memories of the greatest sandwich I’ve ever eaten*”?

I mean, there aren’t really any other thoughts worth sharing. Just figured I’d blurt that out there and enjoy the marriage of “not running into the A gap out of I formation” and “pulling guards” and “just good solid pass protection.” (“But Gabey,” you say, “how can that be a marriage when it’s three thoughts?” “Shush reader,” I demand. “Those thoughts are a committed throuple.”)

*It’s No. 2, by the way.

Those are all the things in my brain this week, other than A) the everpresent sound of static and B) a sense of just generally enjoying this extremely dumb-in-a-good-way-but-also-bad-ways sport for the first time in a hot minute (read: years), and that’s nice.

Lines of the Week

Carson Bruener and Davon Banks coming into this game like:

And Carson Bruener, running down the field on special teams right before delivering the hit that made Michael Penix relatable:

Those depressed Michigan State fans who the TV cameras kept picking up before halftime even started:

And just generally, Washington, Wazzu, and Oregon demoralizing MSU, Wisconsin, and BYU as an up-yours to the rest of the CFB world:

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