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Grading the Game: Stanford

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

Pass Offense - B+

So, Michael Penix and the passing attack looked normal for a game. By normal, I mean 300+ yards, 2 TDs, no turnovers or sacks, and 8.4 yards per attempt. Saturday’s rendition of the opposing defense playing pick-your-poison with UW receivers ended with Rome Odunze’s 161 yards and a touchdown. They came out aggressive as always, trying to hit some explosives early, but just couldn’t connect. He did have an absolutely pin point throw to Odunze for a 30 yard touchdown, which will go in the pantheon of incredible Penix passes this year alone. Rome’s catch was incredible too, while being draped by a DB.

The issues came in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on just two of five trips. Many of them included incomplete passes, and with the way the run game is executing in the red zone, you would like to see more of those passes completed.

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

Rush Offense - B+

Running backs Will Nixon and Wayne Taulapapa combined for 141 yards on 17 carries, and even if you take out Taulapapa’s 34 touchdown scamper, they averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Props to Wayne for having the biggest statistical game of his career. All things considered this was probably Washington’s most effective day running the ball, yet it still feels like the ground game can contribute more when deep in the red zone or late in games. Richard Newton had one noteworthy carry - out of the wildcat - for a first down. Hopefully his reintroduction to the offense will give UW something else to try in the red zone.

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

Pass Defense - C+

This should really be a split grade, since the pass rush more than held up their end of the bargain with a staggering 8 quarterback takedowns. Who knows how much closer this game would have been had Stanford’s offense been able to find any rhythm early. The slow mesh played right into Washington’s strengths on the edge. Instead of giving QB Tanner McKee more time to read the defense, it simply gave talented Husky edge players more time to find their way into the backfield.

Despite all those sacks, McKee still threw for 3 touchdowns and 11 yards per attempt. Davon Banks and Julius Irvin while filling in for injured starters - with help of the pass rush - acquitted themselves pretty well. They were beat on Stanford’s first touchdown drive, with Michael Wilson finding himself open a few times and ultimately hauling in a TD. Late in the game Stanford scored again against Washington’s 3rd (or possibly 4th) string defense, so read into that what you will. On the bright side, true freshman Javaion Green had a really nice hit and tackle on a Stanford receiver late and seems to be a player. Count me among those who expected him to barely see the field this year.

Rush Defense - B+

Stanford running back Casey Filkins rushed for exactly 100 yards in the game, but did all his damage on 3rd and longs he managed to complete. Just when Washington’s defense would be on the cusp of forcing a punt, he would rip off a first down run or take a McKee pass the requisite yardage. Clean that up, and this is probably an “A”.

Alphonso Tuputala is putting together a very nice season, showing that physicality at the point of attack that coaches raved about. Not technically part of the run defense, but he had two sacks. Tuli Letuligasenoa has not gotten much credit this year either from me, but has been had himself a very good game. Overall, the front seven played really well in dealing with a new offensive scheme.

Special Teams - A-

Carson Bruener is a heat seeking missile on kick offs and it is beautiful. Peyton Henry was 4/4 on field goals, including a 47 yarder. Jack McCallister had one spectacular punt downed inside the five, after being a bit up and down his first few games.

Coaching - A-

A bit strange to give coaching an “A-” when no single offensive or defensive unit got an A (maybe the edge, if you want to parse that much), but that’s how it feels. Despite some struggles and showing clear areas for improvement, Washington still scored 40 points against a team that has had a tendency to confound them. Aside from the 2016 game, 40 points is the most scored against Stanford since 1992.

This phenomenon of allowing opponents to convert bizarre 3rd/4th down and long conversions is something to monitor. Hopefully two things happen as the season marches on: first, Asa Turner, Mishael Powell, and Jordan Perryman’s healthy returns boost the play. Second, perhaps it turns out having to consistently complete 3rd/4th down and long is not a sustainable way to score.

Offensively, it’s clear the coaches know what they are doing, but the run game must improve. This is not only holding Washington back in the red zone, but making it harder to salt games away in the fourth quarter, leaving just enough of a sliver of hope that a much better team could take advantage of.

Overall, things are going just about as good as anyone could have realistically expected. Go Dawgs.