Passing Offense - A-
Michael Penix Jr. finished the game with his lowest YPA of the season with 8.2, nearly a full yard short of his previous low against Arizona; three passes batted down and four throw aways, both season highs, will do that. It was also the first time all season his completion percentage dipped below 72% (!!), all the way to 59%. Tip of the cap to the Oregon defense. But, Penix made the big throws downfield to put points on the board: it’s the first time Oregon has allowed four touchdowns on throws of 15 yards or more in a single game since Sept. 26, 2015 against Utah.
Filling in admirably for Jalen McMillan, Jackson had the opening touchdown, and also secured a clutch 4th down reception that ultimately didn’t matter since Washington ended up not being able to punch it in on the goal line. But, a great diving catch nonetheless. Odunze had his second highest season total in yardage (128) and 2 touchdowns, both of which were of the “Mossing” variety. He’ll get a ton of deserved credit, but Polk continues to be an absolute monster in this offense, with 118 yards and a touchdown. His grab before Odunze’s final touchdown has to be one of the Husky catches of the season. They won their 50/50 chances, too - PFF notes four contested targets to the WRs, all four of which were catches.
The offensive line played well enough against a big and athletic Oregon front, allowing a sack, four TFLs, and six total pressures, per PFF. But, they had no false starts and no holding penalties, something that had plagued them in recent games.
It wasn’t the most eye popping game from a numbers perspective and the vaunted Penix/Odunze connection were responsible for the game’s only turnover. I considered giving this unit a “B” or “B+” but Michael Penix Jr. and these wide receivers ensured one of the biggest games in school history would would be a Husky victory, and that gets an “A” (or A-).
Rushing Offense - A-
This is the type of performance (goal line stand not withstanding) from the run game that Husky fans have been waiting for. In fact, it was Dillon Johnson’s first 100 yard game of his career, and he earned triple digits on just 20 carries, plus a touchdown. He showed great vision knowing when to bust runs outside and when to keep it between the tackles, and always finished his runs physically. He ultimately was responsible for 25% of Washington’s first downs gained, and forced four missed tackles. He was critical early in the game to take some of the pressure off the pass game. The fourth down run was not great. Penix maybe could have kept the ball and walked into the end zone. OC Ryan Grubb said in his Monday press conference they wanted Tybo in there for his speed...on a one yard run. So, who knows.
Passing Defense - B
Bo Nix completed 75% of his passes for 337 yards (7.7 YPA) and 2 touchdowns - pretty good numbers. But unlike Penix, when the big moments came, he didn’t deliver (why the Oregon coaches never gave the ball to Bucky Irving on any of those fourth downs is a mystery to me, but I’ll take it). On Oregon’s second to last play before their final field goal attempt, ZTF and Trice both pushed the tackles back, forcing an inaccurate throw from Bo Nix to the running back Jordan James. Had that 3rd down pass been complete, James probably runs up the sideline inside the 15 yard line, creating a significantly easier field goal attempt, and possibly a different game outcome altogether. So while they only had one sack - Oregon has a really good offensive line - they impacted the game when it mattered and finished with 13 hurries (not always a good thing however, when dealing with a player Nix who is comfortable being flushed from the pocket).
On Oregon’s other fourth down attempt just before half, Dom Hampton batted down an end zone pass thrown into traffic, ensuring Washington kept a 22-18 lead going into halftime. Elijah Jackson had an up and down game, but did have a nice pass breakup. Jabbar Muhommad had the tough assignment of defending Troy Franklin, and looked good at times, but the 6-3 Franklin had a huge day averaging nearly 20 yards a catch.
Rushing Defense - B-
Oregon always seems to have great running backs, and Bucky Irving is no exception. He finished with 22 carries for 127 yards, forcing 9 of Washington’s 13 missed tackles on the night. Tuli Letuligasenoa played less than 15 snaps which likely impacted things, but Oregon’s run game certainly got the better of the UW defense for large chunks of the afternoon. Jordan James bullying his way into the end zone in the fourth quarter to give Oregon the lead was...sub optimal. While Edefuan Ulofoshio tied for the team lead with 2 missed tackles, he had the highest percentage of run defense snaps where he was responsible for a “stop”. Big shoutout to MJ Ale too, who split the double team and forced a TFL to set up Oregon’s fateful fourth down with 2:16 left in the game. If Oregon get’s a first down there, this is a very different article. PFF actually credits the run defense with 17 “stops”, one of the higher totals on the season. But, the eye test tells you this unit can still improve.
Special Teams - A-
Germie Bernard continues to look dangerous on kick returns, and it seems like a matter of time before he returns one to the house. Punting was strong with an of 43 yards per from Jack McCallister. The highlight was that strange two point conversion attempt - a screen in traffic to Jack Westover, which was converted. If Oregon defender Jordan Burch didn’t trim his nails earlier in the week, he may have gotten a fingertip on the pass. But he didn’t and Washington was able to maintain a seven point lead.
Coaching - A
Washington lost the yardage battle, turnover margin, time of possession, and had fewer first downs than Oregon (24 to 31). Heck, Nix even threw for more yards than Penix (337 to 302). But, the scoreboard is all that matters. As they have for nearly all of Kalen DeBoer’s short 19 game tenure, they looked well prepared and ready for the moment. The coaches know the strengths of the team, and play to them.
There are grievances. Up 28-19 late in the third quarter, OC Ryan Grubb perhaps got a touch greedy, going for the kill shot. Instead, the Huskies had quick back-to-back three and outs. As Max pointed out in his Three Things We Learned piece, there was an opportunity for an easy first down toss to Gile Jackson, which would have extended one of the drives. Maybe Ryan Grubb should have sprinkled in some run calls, but the play was right there to be made, Penix just didn’t see it.
I don’t know if the defensive play calls on Oregon’s fourth down attempts had any impact, or if it was just players making plays. But, they rose to the occasion in high leverage moments, which to me is coaching and team culture.