It’s not everyday we get to see Washington play and rarely in recent years have we had expectations as high as we do. But today, there was plenty that drew ire from the crowd and from fans — and perhaps it’s due to the lofty goals placed before us.
The game began on a positive note for Washington as they established a promising running game. In the previous week, they had managed an impressive 4.1 yards per carry against a less formidable opponent in Boise State, making it clear that the PAC-12 schedule would be a tougher challenge. Michael Penix Jr. sealed the drive with a roll-out to his left and a precise pass to Rome Odunze, resulting in an easy touchdown. Tulsa responded with a quick field goal, narrowing the deficit to just four points.
However, it wasn’t until Washington’s second offensive drive that ominous signs for the future emerged in a rather disheartening manner. While the drive itself showed promise, a critical moment occurred when Rome Odunze was targeted with a simple screen pass but failed to secure the catch. It was a moment that offered a glimmer of hope for UW fans, reassuring them that at least their opponent was Tulsa.
There’s no need to be overly critical of the offense; after all, they managed to put up a total of 43 points. However, the frustration lies in the fact that, for most of those points, it felt like the team had to work harder than expected, leaving fans somewhat dissatisfied.
Michael Penix Jr. followed his initial success with an interception, a costly mistake that took him a few weeks into the 2022 season (UCLA) to commit. Upon review, it became evident that the receiver had been impeded and delayed in the endzone, potentially warranting a facemask penalty. Unfortunately, the officials didn’t make the call, and the drive was halted, giving possession back to an opponent that had already exploited weaknesses in our defense.
Allowing 168 yards to a Tulsa team that is far from as competitive as the PAC-12 is a cause for concern, especially since it often felt like the secondary was being exploited even more than the statistics suggest. Many fans would be surprised to hear that we only surrendered 150 passing yards because it felt like a much more significant issue.
Although the offense did experience a few dropped passes on what should have been easy receptions, potentially resulting in a couple more touchdowns, it’s worth acknowledging that the team rebounded admirably from each mistake, showcasing their resilience.
It appears that this is the team Washington has assembled—a brilliant blend of talent capable of recovering from any setback. They are unafraid to take risks because they can counterbalance a mistake with a swift scoring play. For instance, when Odunze dropped a pass in one play, the next play involved an end-around that gained fifteen yards. Mistakes are inevitable; however, they were consistently met with even more substantial rebounds.
That’s precisely what we witnessed. Michael Penix Jr. concluded the day with an impressive 409 yards, bringing his season total to 959. Jalen McMillan emerged as this week’s leading receiver with 120 yards, closely followed by Odunze with 107. Polk’s contribution of 81 yards means we still have three receivers on track for 1,000-yard seasons. Furthermore, in the second half, receivers displayed improved ball control, reducing drops and eliminating fumbles.
This team undoubtedly has areas that need addressing, but the good news is that there’s time to do so. That’s the beauty of September—ample time for improvement. While a 43-10 victory is undeniably impressive, one must consider the potential costs involved. An injury to Banks in the second half added to the strain on our secondary, serving as a reminder that we faced Tulsa, nothing close to PAC-12 competition so soon the team needs to tighten up.