Intros are ridiculous. Absolutely heinous.
But shouting out Peyton Henry for killing it after plenty of bad years and good years and up-and-down years in the past isn’t an intro. It’s... shouting out Peyton Henry for killing it after plenty of bad years and good years and up-and-down years.
So shout out Peyton Henry?
An 88% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything
This offense is like if Gob Bluth ran an offense, and also if Gob Bluth were a competent magician and not someone who blew up a $700,000 yacht (with $900,000 worth of insurance on it!) to get on a Girls With Low Self-Esteem video. So I guess that makes it less the Gob Bluth offense and more the Tony Wonder offense. But also if Tony Wonder weren’t equally as unimpressive... Gonna have to think on this.
Whatever. Point being: It’s an illusion, Michael.
Obviously, to begin with, it just generally works off the previously controversial assumption that having exceptional athletes in space is a good thing and not, as last season’s staff would have us believe, Bad Actually. A good starting point, in my humble opinion.
It also works under the equally bold assumption that opponents will try to defend said human people and respond accordingly — an assumption that will surely be tested come November 19th against Colorado.
I felt like the conclusion of these two extremely bold philosophical assumptions was particularly on display against Stanford, where there were multiple plays that especially implanted notions into the opponents’ brains first, just to then go “PSYCH BITCH DON’T YOU LOOK LIKE A HORSE’S ASS NOW.” Case in point: Jack Westover getting the ball where there was no defender within *Dr. Evil voice* one million yards of him.
As a big fan of in-situation poker games — is that why I love baseball closers? Who’s to say (yes) — I personally find this whole thing delightful. Playing mind games with the opponent? Hilarious. Playing even meaner mind games with the opponent because you’ve got a battalion’s worth of dudes who could whip their asses? Hilariouser.
Manipulating the flow of a defense, it turns out, rules.
Even simpler than that, Ryan Grubb’s offense is almost more like computer science than anything else; goading defenders into believing that when you see [X] input that means [Y], only for him and Penix to then come back with “lol you dumb dumbs, why on Earth would you think [X] leads to [Y] when clearly what [X] leads to is us throwing it to Jack Westover? Duh. Anyone would’ve known that.”
Obviously that’s the ostensible goal of any high-functioning offense on some level, but I feel like often in these cases these either A) don’t clearly articulate the defender’s point of view and so are meh in both philosophy and execution, or B) take the form of “getting too cute” and just overthinking everything, with the results being — in the words of the great Mike Wozniak — an absolute casserole.
Anyhoo, I’ve seen it mentioned a few times on Twitter et al and have to agree on some level: Effectively, this is what Chris Petersen’s offense wanted to be.
I think the difference between this one and the Pete offense is that Pete’s purported to play mind games with opponents, but it did so to the extent that it also played mind games with Washington’s own players. We know what the end result was, and how it prevented more talented young guys from being able to out-talent their opposition. The DeBoer offense, meanwhile, plays mind games with opponents plus allows Washington’s players with a talent advantage to just grip it n’ rip it. Wheel snipe celly boys.
Foot rhythm is good rhythm
In the vein of manipulating space and subverting expectations, and through extension the east-west and north-south movement required to do so, I looooooove how great Michael Penix looks when rolling to his opposite side. Roll out, flip feet, sling it, repeat.
Other than his everything, this is one detail of his game that’s warmed my dead existentially-over-it heart the most.
Genuinely, I can’t think of anyone who’s that good at rolling out to their weak side — so much of it comes down to how good he is at reading the play and timing the rhythm of his footwork perfectly with the flow of what he’s seeing. While I mentioned previously that he should work with Heather Tarr — that’s winningest Washington coach of all time and newly-extended through 2029 Coach Tarr, to you — on one itsy bitsy wee lil’ tiny single component of his throwing mechanics, this particularly trait is a softball/baseball callback in the best way in that it’s reminiscent of elite middle infielders’ footwork. In other words Michael Penix = Sis Bates but a foot taller. It’s science.
Kirkland Signature brand questions
To start off with, I’ll say Jaxson Kirkland had both some “meh” moments and some good ones. Troy Fautanu, in his stead — “in his stead” is something I like to slip into conversation to sound extremely clever and maybe even rich — had played very very well. Having an experienced veteran returning and a successful guy who took his place and has looked great is a lovely problem to have. But.
Of the throws where Michael Penix was pressured, had to deliver the ball .3 seconds too soon, and was subsequently 1% off on the ball placement... a not insignificant number of those came from Kirkland’s side.
For example, the third and three that was missed with less than a minute to go in the half was Kirkland getting beat. On rewatch, there were... an amount... of these cases. They weren’t the norm, really, but they were noticeable. Sure, some of that was probably a bit of rust, but there are also some structural things that make me hesitant.
Full disclosure, I can’t pretend to be even a bit of an expert on offensive line technique. There are certain mechanical things I inherently know what I’m talking about based on my own experiences and the transferability of certain mechanics from my own sports to certain football positions. The minutiae of the offensive line is not one of them.
That being said, there are truths of physics that dictate truths of athletics...
For example, when Kirkland’s getting beat he tends to lunge at the waist in a too-soon desperation move. Similarly, when pulling for the run, he hingest at the waist too much after visually locking on to a defender with which to engage — that throws him off balance for a counter move, impedes his mobility (or reactability if that’s a word), and against a savvy or quick defender makes him too easily lose the play or not engage the defender effectively.
Based on his body type and tendencies, it feels like he’s just too reliant too often on his upper body strength in lieu of having the base and feet necessary for consistently winning his battles. Yet I don’t think that’s really his fault.
I say this because I was practically the president of the Jaxson Kirkland fan club when he was a redshirt freshman and pwning n00bs as a guard, but I feel like he’s since been foisted into the role of tackle more or less because he’s tall and long, and what are tackles if not the lengthy tall dudes? Well, for starters, they have to have a stronger base plus better mobility and foot speed. His center of gravity is just high for a guy expected to play at that position and his lower body is neither sturdy nor quick enough. The ankle injury probably doesn’t help that mobility or ability to get low either.
Obviously this is disproportionately looking at his weaknesses — in general he’s still better at tackle than most college football tackles. I also have to give him credit that there were snaps where he was quite effective, and he’s pretty smart at adapting well to stunts or general pass rush tom foolery. It’s just that Troy Fautanu has looked really good. And he, by the grace of genetics, has a stronger base, lower center of gravity, quicker feet, and through extension just all around better lower body mobility.
I would say “Why don’t we throw Kirkland back at his original position?” except he hasn’t played that in what, three years? Four? I mean, he kicked ass at guard. Even with that time gap, I still think he could probably slide in there — but the line’s been playing so well without him, who the crap would he replace?
Anyways, who knows? I certainly don’t. Just throwin’ that out there.
Normally I’d talk about some stuff regarding the defense — my thoughts are summed up by the note “feel like opponents are marching down the field a bit too much for comfort but also the front is wrecking bitches up there” — but we’ve already hit 1,500 words and that would be cruel of me to put you all through more so... let’s do that next week, shall we?
Oh, lastly: That John Humphreys touchdown was so blatantly offensive PI, I mean... c’mon.
Lines of the Week
Tanner McKee and the no good very bad ass-beating:
Tanner McKee in the alternate universe where he’s not mormon:
The front seven’s group meeting wherein they discussed how to ruin Tanner McKee’s night:
Tanner McKee to his offensive line, probably:
And that god damn drone:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.