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Grading the Game: Tulsa

Some sloppy mistakes, but still a comfortable win.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Passing Offense - B

This might seem like a harsh grade after another 400+ yards and three touchdowns for Michael Penix Jr., but some uncharacteristic drops from the receivers and a miscommunication leading to an interception knocks down this mark. That said, much of the hopes and dreams of this team rest on the pass game and they came through in a big way. As usual, Penix spread the ball around, with five different pass catchers having receptions of at least 30 yards. Expected points added during drop backs was in the 81st percentile (when compared to all 2022 FBS v FBS games.)

NCAA Football: Boise State at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

A few drops and a fumble not withstanding, the big three of Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan, and Ja’Lynn Polk were mostly magnificent, though we might have to expand that to a big four with the way Germie Bernard is playing.

Rushing Offense - C+

The Huskies easily scored 43 points on Saturday without much help from the run game. At the moment, the best pure running back appears to be Will Nixon, though WR Germie Bernard getting carries (2 rushes for 8 yards) indicates the coaches are still looking for answers. When it comes to run blocking, PFF was not favorable in their grades for the offensive line. C Matteo Mele was the highest graded OL at sixth best overall - TE Quinten Moore was first. The next highest OL was LT Troy Fautanu at thirteen.

The final stats on Saturday: 16 carries for 49 yards and one touchdown for the running backs. The “official” rushing stats are buoyed by Ja’Lynn Polk’s and Rome Odunze’s 41 yards on misdirection/end around plays. Tulsa - like many teams will be this season - were terrified of the big play and gave up easy yards underneath. Instead of running the ball, the Huskies chose to take the chunk pass plays. Perhaps a fully healthy Dillon Johnson is the missing spark.

Passing Defense - B+

CB Jabbar Muhammad certainly appears to be the player the Husky coaches envisioned when he transferred in. He was targeted five times - tied for most on the team - and allowed two receptions for only 16 yards, plus a sack. The three incompletions were all “forced” incompletions per PFF. Kam Fabiculanan had another interception this week, and between him, Muhammad, Thaddeus Dixon, and Davon Banks, the corners appear much more able to impact pass plays compared to last season. S Asa Turner left the game early but it didn’t impact Tulsa’s ability to threaten UW downfield. Neither Golden Hurricane QB managed more than 4.7 yards per attempt - the long pass of 32 yards was their biggest play of the day.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

However, the lack of pass rush is slightly concerning. EDGE Bralen Trice had a TFL but went another game without a sack, as did Zion Tupuloa-Fetui. But, teams know the talent the Huskies have on the edge and are scheming around it. They are getting the ball out quickly and attacking the defense with screen passes.

Rushing Defense - B

The highest graded run defender for the Huskies was LB Carson Bruener. Like he’s shown through most of his career, he doesn’t need many snaps to make a big impact. Only defending five run plays, PFF gives him two stops, meaning a tackle that causes a failed offensive play. S Dom Hampton played well in run support with two stops of his own, and LB Edefuan Ulofoshio had three. The final numbers for Tulsa running backs were decent: 36 rushes for 173 yards and no touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Tulsa at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams A-

Coverage units seem much better, and for the second week in a row we saw a kick off returner get de-cleated. It would have been nice for his confidence if K Grady Gross started his Husky career with a made field goal, but he missed his lone attempt. The Huskies did not attempt a punt.

Coaching - B+

It’s hard to say after a 43-10 victory, but Huskies seemed a bit out of focus. There were drops by wide open receivers, and some uncharacteristic turnovers from the offense. The team stated pretty clearly in their post game comments that they know it wasn’t their cleanest performance. Despite that, there are more than enough playmakers on offense to make up for a few miscues. The coaches also made sure the team remained focused - the drives following both the interception and fumble were touchdowns.

It’s nice to be this critical in a 33 point victory.