1. #1 With a Bullet
Oregon State is a very good team. There should be no denying that based on the way they’ve played so far this season. They are a legitimate top-20 team in the country even if they end up with 4 losses following next week’s trip to Eugene. At the same time, it’s clear that they don’t quite have the same level of dudes as the Huskies.
This game ultimately came down to the play of two men. Both wearing the #1. Rome Odunze was the only Husky skill player who could seemingly do anything on offense. Odunze had 65% of Washington’s receiving yards tonight and that was even with one drop plus a few uncalled holds/DPIs. When the game was on the line and the Huskies needed 3 yards to keep all of their dreams alive, OC Ryan Grubb trusted Penix to Odunze to seal the deal.
On the other end, Jabbar Muhammad had an absolutely dominant game. His first interception technically would’ve been better off if it had been dropped since it was on 4th down and cost UW 20+ yards in field position but there were 5 seconds left in the half so meh. His second interception should’ve resulted in at least 3 points before the offense couldn’t get out of their own way. There were also another 3 pass break-ups plus another that didn’t count as it came on a free play after a Husky offsides penalty. Oh yeah, and a fumble recovery.
Washington CB Jabbar Muhammad vs Oregon State:— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 19, 2023
6 Times Targeted
0 Catches Allowed
2 INTs | 3 PBUs
0.0 Passer Rating Allowed pic.twitter.com/KmaZfeDKvu
Damien Martinez was a stud for Oregon State as we knew he would be. There are many other good players for the Beavers, particularly on the offensive line. It was clear though that Muhammad and Odunze were the best players on the field on Saturday night. Maybe Washington’s dudes can’t out-dude the dudes on the other side if they make it to the College Football Playoff. Against Oregon State though? They got it done.
2. Once, Twice, Trice
I lauded Jabbar Muhammad and Rome Odunze above. They were both spectacular. But this was also one helluva game from Bralen Trice. For much of the beginning of the season we wondered what was going on with Bralen Trice. Was his breakout season when he led the country in QB pressures an aberration?
Through the first half of the regular season, Trice had 18 pressures, 4 QB hits, and 1 sack. That wasn’t close to the standard that Trice had set for himself. Things got better when leading the country in QB pressures at Stanford and at USC in consecutive games. Definitely nice but neither team has had what could be considered a dominant offensive line to this point in the season.
That isn’t true for Oregon State. The Beavers entered the game with the #1 right tackle in the country per Pro Football Focus and the #15 left tackle. Both were under strong consideration for 1st team all-conference honors. And yet Trice was in the backfield all night. He seemingly got pressure on DJ Uiagelelei anytime he held onto the ball. He blew up multiple run plays behind the line of scrimmage. He was everywhere on that end of the field despite getting shaken up in the 3rd quarter on a missed tackle behind the LOS.
In the end, PFF credited Trice with 3 QB hurries, 2 QB hits, and 1 sack in 37 pass rush opportunities. That was as many pressures as the rest of the team had combined. Trice was given a low PFF grade because they listed him with 5 missed tackles. Personally, I’ll live with a few missed tackles when he’s making contact behind the line of scrimmage and slowing down the ball carrier to make it easier for the next guy.
From a narrative purpose it made sense to link Muhammad and Odunze together since they wear the same number. But Trice was the 3rd head of the dude dragon.
As long as we’re talking defensive line though, an additional shout out to Tuli Letuligasenoa. He also got shaken up in the second half but had multiple tackles for loss when stuffing run plays and the Dawgs don’t come away with a win despite the injuries at safety and linebacker without him in the game.
3. Goose Egg McMillan with a Fried Polk
There were plenty of folks who got excited when Pete Thamel reported early on Saturday morning that Jalen McMillan would be available and would start against Oregon State. Dreams of when Odunze, McMillan, and Polk were an unstoppable 3-headed monster through the first two and a half games of the season running through their heads.
I took a more measured approach. We had seen McMillan come back three times from this injury and he never had played more than 12 snaps in a game and had yet to make a catch. I promised myself that I would start with the assumption that McMillan wasn’t ever going to look right the rest of the year and be happy if/when he proved me wrong.
Unfortunately, a larger role in the offense didn’t translate to larger production. McMillan played 32 snaps last night and ended with 0 catches on 2 targets, both of which were dropped. He has now dropped all 3 of the passes thrown in his direction since his injury. I love Jalen and would be so thrilled to see him be a meaningful contributor the rest of the way. Maybe he puts it all together in the Apple Cup. But I’m not going to assume it will happen for him this year. And having him play 30+ snaps essentially as a decoy isn’t helping the offense.
If you want to give McMillan the benefit of the doubt, it helps that he wasn’t the only no show among the receiving corps. Ja’Lynn Polk had by far his worst performance as a Husky against the Beavers. It was never more clear than on Washington’s second possession when Polk was targeted three times and twice had it slip through his hands (the third pass hit one hand but was too high to reasonably be caught). Polk took off his gloves to see if he would catch better in the rain without them. More misses followed. In the end, Polk was targeted 5 times and had 0 catches for 0 yards. His previous low this season in catches was 3 against Boise State and his low in yards was 41 against Arizona.
Michael Penix Jr. has seen his Heisman credentials slip as his numbers have come to earth against a tougher schedule while Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels keep putting up 5 or 6 touchdown days against subpar competition. Plenty of that is on Penix for showing reduced accuracy on his deep passes in bad weather conditions. It certainly hasn’t been a plus though that he isn’t getting much in the way of help from anyone outside of Odunze and Jack Westover.