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Stuff and Shenanigans: On a Frozen Oval in Utah on Montlake

“Hey! That’s the name of Christian Caple’s site!”

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

Welcome to the eighth annual first stuff (and shenanigan) of the season. That’s... a long time. Someone write to Vox and tell them to pay us more/anything.

A 79% Sober and 100% Accurate Rundown of Absolutely Everything

Listen man: I told you to not freak out. I said it would be fine.

Oh what’s that? “ThAt’S a LiE yOu DuMb BiT—”?

Okay, sure. If we’re considering “everybody freak out” to mean “everybody freak out” then fine. Technically I “said exactly what I said I didn’t say” or whatever. God you guys just don’t stop nitpicking, goodness.

I mean even without the parenthesis, it was pretty much implied right?

Did I prefer seeing UW have two dinky little first drives that amounted to basically nothing while Boise State scored first? Does it feel good to stub your pinky toe against the coffee table?

Did it make me a little uneasy? Sure. Did I feel like freaking out? Nah dude, it was the first two drives of the season — Mike and the receivers didn't just suddenly forget how to offense.

Which, to be honest, almost makes the point totals even more impressive given they scored 56 points after eating paste for fun for almost 25% of the game. With all due respect to Boise State, essentially what we witnessed was this. (In case it was unclear, Mike and Co are Shani Davis in this analogy.) Luckily, the "this” in question is my favorite bleep in the history of humanity, so I’m down with it.

Other thoughts of mine include such genius musings as “these guys did pretty much what I thought they would” and “these other guys also did pretty much what I thought they would” and “motherf*$%er I told you.” That last one’s unrelated to the first two. Don’t worry about— ya know what, it’ll become clear further down.

“These Guys Did Pretty Much What I Thought They Would”: A New Film in The Marvel Cinematic Universe: Starring Paul Rudd and Alicia Silverstone

Let’s start here with, one moment while I check my notes... “wide receiver far outside blocking blew chunks”... one sec almost there... Dewey defeats Truma— hold up wrong file— A-HA here we are. Found it! Yes, the interior offensive line pretty much played exactly how I expected them to.

That is, they weren’t completely seamless and had some gaffes, but also were far from a complete reset of three new dudes with a ginormous learning curve. That's right: I know how to use the word "gaffe” in a sentence.

Moving on.

These other guys also did pretty much what I thought they would

This should be met with the caveat that who I’m about to mention did do about what I thought they would do, but they were definitely on the better end of the spectrum of “what I thought they would do.”

I’m speaking of the secondary — particularly the corners, who after one game seem to have graduated from last year’s status of “oh god oh no” to, so far, “good enough for government work.”

That might sound like a backhanded compliment but I assure you it is not. Or, not backhanded, that is. It is a compliment. Considering the coaches DeBoer, Inge, and Morrell didn’t do some Property Brother-ass off-season revamp of the whole place, “good enough for government work” is pretty much the best anyone could have reasonably predicted without being a homer the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since Ancient Greece. (Ba-dum tss.) (I’m so sorry.) (I solemnly promise you no more stupid Ancient Greek wordplay for the rest of the season.)

Considering they’re still running a scheme that puts a lot of pressure on those individuals, and considering just how badly and often that secondary ate it last season, I’d grade this out as pretty, pretty, pretty good. They weren’t superstars, and they still had some moments that made you go “lol shit” but overall — fine enough.

Like, I don’t remember who said it — Terry Hollimon, maybe? — but near the end of last season some alum mentioned on Twitter that they hadn’t seen a DB in position to make a play on the ball in a month. And then I read that and realized “I too haven’t seen a DB in position to make a play on the ball in a month.” And that’s... a vom-worthy thought to have.

On Saturday there were still a handful of plays where defensive backs got out of position, but even then they were generally in a position. Like, they were at least somewhere where you saw them and went “Okay, imperfect, but there’s at least a logical sequence of steps that led your mess-up there,” vs “Ope so-and-so just got son’d into another galaxy. Again.”

And, even better, my gut says the corners were in a position to make a play on the ball more against Boise State than they were in all of November 2022.

There is a decently-sized caveat here that the secondary and indeed whole defense was saved multiple times by crappy throws from Taylen Green, and that a more complete passing quarterback could’ve kept the Broncos in the game longer, and who knows if they'll be able to keep "fine” up against better offenses and through the wear and tear of the season, but ya know what: For now I’m just gonna enjoy it.

Elsewhere on the defense, I was pretty down with seeing the edge rush play moooooooostly disciplined against someone like Taylen Green who has f*ck you running ability. That's like f*ck you money, except it's even less attainable of a fantasy for me and everyone reading this. Which is saying something, because f*ck you money is extremely unattainable for me.

Is this style of play even remotely sexy? Heck no. Were they perfect at it? Double heck no. But ya know what, I don't think I've ever seen a pass rush defend f*ck you running ability perfectly and I don't really blame them, because I'm pretty sure that would be like blaming my roommates’ dog for when he tugs on the leash because he sees a rabbit.

Sometimes a pass rush plan is just a neon sign that says “YOUR ONLY JOB IS CONTAIN GODDAMMIT.” But at a certain point if an edge player finds themselves, like, two yards away from a quarterback, it does become a rather dog-meet-rabbit situation — where that dog knows he’s not supposed to chase the rabbit but still there’s a reflex there where it only takes one step towards the rabbit for the rabbit to freak out and get loose and run away. Or, if this contrived dog-and-rabbit metaphor doesn’t suit you, we can call it a “Gob Bluth describing the Hot Cops male strippers” situation:

Gob: These guys are pros, Michael. They’re gonna push the tension til the last possible moment before they strip.

Michael: They’re not going to strip, are they?

Gob: I mean I told them not to but I can’t promise their instincts won’t kick in.

Umm, I guess in this scenario Gob is the coaches and the Hot Cops are... the edge players...? I don’t know, this is getting weird. This was just supposed to be a quick “good job edge rushers for being imperfect but overall playing pretty disciplined!” post, and then it devolved into... whatever you’d call that. Apologies, apologies all around.

Which brings us to our last bit:

Motherf*$%er I told you

On tackling and angles.

I said it repeatedly at the end of last season that this was the biggest thing standing between last year’s Washington team and levelling up. Here’s a diatribe on it from the Apple Cup.

If you took this team and made their tackling sound, the Apple Cup isn’t close, Oregon doesn’t come down to the last drive, and they presumably beat at least one of UCLA and *wretching noises* ASU [...] When you consider how crucial tackling is, it’s kind of nuts that this team whipped as much ass as they did while being so below average at the most fundamental skill in the game.

Yes, more so than even last year’s secondary woes, the Gilby-era level tackling and Brian-Clay-Or-Was-It-Cory-Littleton-Against-2015-Southern-Mississippi-When-Michael-Thomas-Scored-That-Long-Touchdown level angles was the biggest issue.

That doesn’t... particularly... seem to have changed. The tackling missed far too often or, when not missing, gave up an extra four, five, six yards. The angles were far too acute too often, with an overestimation of one’s speed and lack of spacial awareness. (On the first Boise touchdown, it was — and this is the scientific term for it — an absolute dogshit angle by two players. Even without them taking each other out, it was just classically awful overestimation of your own speed, underestimation of the other guy’s, and tunnel vision that gets in the way of reading the space around you.)

While there are individual players who are more prone to these issues than others, it’s very much a team-wide issue.

If Washington gets screwed at some point this season, it will be because of this.

But otherwise, fun game.

Lines of the Week

Washington fans deciding it was freak out time:

Us when Mike Penix decided at will that he wanted to whip ass, actually:

Watching that poor Boise kicker decide to carry it out despite being presented repeatedly with evidence that that was a poor decision, only to see him be presented again with yet greater evidence that this was a poor decision:

Boise returner! Stop returning it! Stahp! We don't get any pleasure out of this! We will keep Britain Covey-ing you until you learn this lesson!

Said Boise returner each time he gets Covey’d to oblivion:

Okay wait one more on the Boise returner and then I swear we're done *ahem*:

The Boise returner justifying the fact that he kept bringing kicks out only to get blasted by the Death Star each time:

Okay, I'm a lady of my word. We're done.

Lastly, one other mostly-unrelated thing, and that is that sometimes some of you will leave quite nice comments. This generally blows my mind because this is The Internet LLC, a place where it is actually considered poor form to not threaten everyone with whom you interact with, at the very least, a strip mall parking lot fight to the death.

Sometimes some of you will even say things as batcrap insane as “do you have other work and where can I find it?” — I even have a screenshot of one of you saying you would read my book if I ever wrote one, which, while flattering, makes me seriously question your mental state.

Welp, other than my usual answer of “sometimes I’m on shows and you can find them around town but only come to the good ones because there are bad ones and those sap the dignity out of their performers so horrifically that it can’t conveyed with words and I never want to be perceived in that state,” I do now have another answer. And it’s here.

What that link links to is a serialized historical comedy about a fictional old timey Pacific Northwest baseball league. Now if you just read that and thought “Wow, that sounds suspiciously like that one time you and Andrew and Coach B hijacked a roundtable last spring and came up with a story about a fictional old timey Pacific Northwest baseball league,” you’d be right. Because that’s exactly where it started, and then I turned that into An Actual Thing because my dumb brain couldn’t stop coming up with dumb ideas for it.

Now if you thought “Wow, that sounds stupid as crap,” you’re right — it is stupid as crap. But I figured everything I do here is also stupid as crap, so...

Read the Everett Flabbergasters if you like stupid crap, which you probably do because you’re still here. (There’s also a subscription option, which is free. And would be awesome if you did that if you’re so inclined.)

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.