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Grading the Game: Utah

Utah gave Washington all they could handle. How did the Dawgs grade out?

Utah v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Passing Offense - B+

Not an eye popping statistical game for QB Michael Penix Jr., but he made big throws against a very tough defense, finishing with 332 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 57% pass completion. Utah’s CBs are physical, and seem to play right on the border of pass interference and great coverage. WR Rome Odunze had just three catches, but two went for touchdowns and the third was a 44-yarder. He also drew a couple defensive PI calls and finished the game averaging an incredible 37 yards per catch.

TE Jack Westover and WR Germie Bernard were both consistent chain movers combining for 13 catches and 127 yards, and combined for 7 first downs. Westover also had 10 yard catch on a 4th-and-2, showcasing great body control and hands. The drive ended in a crucial touchdown and put UW ahead after three straight drives that went punt, punt, field goal. All things considered, a pretty good day for the pass offense on a windy day against one of the toughest defense the Huskies have faced all season. Penix did face more pressure than he was used to, and was sacked twice, which diminishes the grade slightly.

Rushing Offense - A-

For the second week in a row, the run game was a critical part of the offensive game plan. RBs Dillon Johnson, Tybo Rogers, and Will Nixon rushed 26 times for 141 yards (5.4 YPC) and 2 touchdowns, all against a Utah defense that had been allowing 88 yards per game on the ground. Johnson had a 28 yard run, but for the most part wasn’t ripping off huge chunk plays, but rather running through Utah defenders for 104 yards and a touchdown. PFF credits him with 7 forced missed tackles, and his 3.43 yards after contact per rush is his third highest of the season.

Despite almost fumbling on his first carry (and dropping a wide open catch, though that is more relevant to the pass game) Tybo Rodgers is starting to show glimpses of why the coaches are so excited about him, with his quickness and ability to make defenders miss.

Utah v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Passing Defense

First half: D

Second half: A-

The defense truly was a tale of two halves, so I can’t give an honest full game grade. Utah QB Bryson Barnes entered the game with 235 passing yards as his career high, and he surpassed that in just the first half, throwing for 238 yards, including two plays of 50+ yards. PFF notes his average depth of target of only 6.4 yards, his second lowest total of the season. That he was able to put up those numbers with such a low target depth shows just how poor the tackling was for the UW defense in the first half. There was the 53 yard screen pass to S/RB Sioni Vaki for a touchdown, and CB Elijah Jackson missed a tackle on WR Devaugh Vele who turned the corner for a 41 yard gain. EDGE Bralen Trice was in the backfield a lot, with six total pressures, but the pass rush failed to register a single sack. S Vince Nunley returned to the starting lineup and had a couple pass breakups in coverage.

Then the second half came around, and after a LB Eddie Ulofoshio half time speech, the Husky defense pitched a shutout. Barnes threw two picks, and completed just 4/13 passes for only 29 yards in the final two quarters.

Rushing Defense

First half: C+

Second half: A-

The Huskies did a solid job of containing Utah RBs Ja’Quinden Jackson and Jaylon Glover, who combined for 18 carries for 66 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. While the traditional run game never quite got going for the Utes - DT Tuli Letuligasenoa playing 15 run defense snaps, per PFF, likely had an impact - Barnes did get loose 6 times for 39 yards. Not huge numbers, but he kept drives alive with his scrambling. They also gained 15 yards an end around, they were setting up all game with a fake during most of their power runs. LB Eddie Ulofoshio had 4 “stops”, tied for his second highest total of the season. The first half/second half split wasn’t as stark as the pass defense, but Utah is a running team that managed 76 total yards and zero points in the second half.

Special Teams - B+

P Jack McCallister averaged more than 40 yards per punt and dropped one inside the 20. K Grady Gross delivered in the wind hitting two of three field goals, including one for 41 yards. He did have one blocked which dings the grade slightly. WR Rome Odunze also took a punt 18 yards, and KR Daniyel Ngata is looking like he could return a kick off for a touchdown any week now.

Coaching - B

I thought about another first half/second split here, but all in all the coaching was solid from my eyes. They put 35 on one of the best defenses in the country and a team that never makes it easy on any offense. The defense was a mess in the first half and possibly the worse half of football that unit has played all year, including the Stanford game. Reading between the lines of the coaches comments it sounds like they realized they were getting too exotic with the defensive calls in the first half, went back to the base defensive sets, and it clearly worked. That, and a supposedly fiery halftime speech from Team Captain Eddie Ulofoshio. 10-0 is 10-0.