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Grading the Game: Stanford

Offense was okay. Defense was not so okay.

Washington v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Passing Offense - B

Even putting up 42 points, it was not the best game for the passing offense, especially considering the way the Stanford defense had played this season. QB Michael Penix Jr’s final numbers were not bad - 369 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception that probably should have been called pass interference. PFF notes four dropped passes from WRs - tied for most in a game this season - which contributed to only completing 56% of his passes. This was also his second highest “time to throw” average of the season, at almost 3 seconds. This could be flu-related brain fog, Stanford getting creative with coverages, or likely a combo of the two. He was also pressured 9 times, with one sack, by the Stanford defense - not great, not terrible.

In the absence of WR Jalen McMillan, WR Giles Jackson not on the trip, and WR Germie Bernard still coming back from injury, it was up to WRs Rome Odunze and Ja’Lynn Polk to make most of the plays. Aside from the aforementioned drops, they were mostly excellent. Odunze had a couple huge catches showcasing his elite athleticism and body control, but did have a bad fumble in the red zone. Polk now holds the record for the second longest pass play in Washington history - 93 yards - and caught both of his contested catch attempts, per PFF. Bernard played only 25 snaps and caught just three passes, but all of them were for first downs. TE Devin Culp was schemed open and showed how he can be a weapon with his size and speed when given the opportunities.

Washington v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Rushing Offense - B+

As usual, not a whole lot to report here. Just evaluating carries by running backs, RB Dillon Johnson ended his night with 18 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown, and RB Tybo Rodgers had two rushes for 12 yards. Johnson’s running was especially critical at the end the game; with Washington up 35-33, he ran four straight times for 6, 7, 2, and then 13 yards into the end zone to seal a victory. Nearly half of his yards were after contact, so a physical effort from the junior. Shout out to TE Jack Westover who took a carry up the gut for a one-yard touchdown run to open the scoring for the Huskies.

Passing Defense - C+

The pass rush felt more active than it had all season, with the box score showing 3 sacks for the Huskies (though PFF says only 2). Stanford’s offensive line has been a problem all season, and Bralen Trice took advantage with 12 QB hurries - his previous high in a game this year had been four. Edge Sekai Asoau-Afoa had 5 hurries, and DT Jacob Bandes had four. In the secondary - down both starting safeties - things were not quite as good. Stanford completed 4 passes downfield of 20+ yards, something that the Husky defense was relatively good at preventing going into this game. The big plays from Stanford QB Ashton Daniels kept the Cardinal in the game and he ultimately finished with 367 yards and a touchdown, completing 65% of his passes. CB Jabbar Muhammad also struggled, after playing at a very high level all season. He was targeted 14 times and allowed 10 catches for 124 yards, and was called for two pass interference penalties. Even if you don’t adjust for the opponent, this was probably the worst game the secondary has played all season.

Stanford v Washington Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Rushing Defense - B-

PFF credits LB Eddie Ulofoshio with four stops, and no other player had more than two. While it may not have looked like it in the game, there were only two missed tackles in the run game. In fact, PFF gives the Huskies their highest tackling grade of the season, just edging out the Tulsa game. Stanford’s final rush numbers weren’t all that impressive - 35 attempts for 128 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. Four touchdowns doesn’t sound great, but they were short yardage runs after Stanford had already passed their way down the field. That being said, the play where the Huskies had 12 men on the field, yet left a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line for Daniels to waltz through into the end zone, felt like emblematic of the defenses performance as a whole.

Special Teams - A-

P Jack McCallister averaged more than 40 yards a punt and Denzel Boston was solid on punt returns (i.e. didn’t mess up), even taking one 16 yards. Not sure anything else of note happened. Did I miss anything?

Coaching - C+

The ultra positive spin on this game, and the ASU game for that matter, is that the Huskies are just looking ahead, but still managing to win games. As much as they say “one game at a time”, the team and coaches are keenly aware of the schedule, and know they have a tough stretch coming up. Per Tony Castricone, this is now the third straight game Washington has been both out gained and lost the turnover battle...and won. Only 26 teams have done this twice in a season since 2007, let alone three times. At some point luck runs out, right?

The negative side of things is that defenses are starting to figure things out against this offense, and missing even one key playmaker - Jalen McMillan - is having an outsized impact on their performance. This offensive game plan also felt a little too reliant on “hero ball”. Granted there aren’t many receivers in the country you’d rather throw up a prayer to than Ja’Lynn Polk, and Rome Odunze, but where are the wide open receivers we saw earlier in the season? Where are the throws to the running backs? Defensively, you want to see a better performance against a Stanford offense that hasn’t done much all year. I just hope it can all be explained by the flu.

The Huskies have now won 15 straight games. 8-0 is 8-0. Go Dawgs, beat USC.