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Washington fends off Eagle aerial assault in shootout, wins 59-52: Instant Reactions

Chris Petersen's home opener didn't go exactly as planned, but he walks away with a win against a favorite for the FCS crown.

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the game, Washington defensive line coach Dave Choate told Adam Jude that he believed the Eastern Washington offense was just as good as Oregon's. He was only slightly hyperbolic, though his Huskies were able to pull out a victory against the Eagles 59-52.

This game had all the looks of an FBS vs. FCS blowout to start the game, when the Huskies jumped in front 21-0 to start the game. The Huskies received the kickoff and marched down the field with Kasen Williams at the focal point of the offense. Several plays were intended to target Williams down the field, though he only received two targets on the drive. The legs of Cyler Miles were used as a weapon, both scrambling and on designed runs, including a touchdown off of a read option keeper.

After Eastern Washington fumbled the kickoff, it took only three plays for Lavon Coleman to reach the end zone. After forcing a three-and-out, Shaq Thompson took the ball for the first time in his Husky career. Eight yard run, one yard run, 57-yard touchdown. Just like that the score is 21-0 Huskies.

The Eagles and Vernon Adams Jr. were not going to be held down for long. The first of four go-route touchdowns from Vernon Adams to his receivers went over the head of Marcus Peters. After the play, Peters was seen heated, directing his anger towards sophomore safety Kevin King, who was late in his help over the top, held by a pump fake to the other side of the field by Adams. Peters was burned, and the throw was absolutely perfect to Cooper Kupp.

Through the rest of the half, Adams had, as mentioned, three other go route touchdowns, all along the sideline, one to more to Cooper Kupp. Each of Budda Baker, Jermaine Kelly and Darren Gardenhire were burned along the left sideline, and adside from the one over the top completion, the Eagles weren't able to complete a pass against Peters.

Now, the scoring didn't stop at 24-21, as the Eagles had a whole other touchdown! John Ross, the fastest player in the Pac-12 conference beat everybody up the sideline while not running at full speed on a bubble screen. The pass wasn't on target (Miles was high on most passes to the flats) nor did it arrive all that quickly (happens when Miles is the quarterback). John Ross is just ridiculously fast. 55-yard score.

Lavon Coleman also had a feature drive, though his lack of speed was on display when he had nobody in front of him and wasn't able to pull away on a 54-yard run. Dwayne Washington finished it off. The Huskies finished the half up 37-31 (misseed PAT by Cameron Van Winkle) and each team had over 300 yards of total offense. To say the offense looks better under Miles is an understatement, though it is the ground game led by Washington and Coleman that is doing the lion's share of the work.

The second half featured more and more offense, as Vernon Adams broke the record (according to Percy Allen) for the most touchdown passes ever by a Washington opponent, finishing with seven. No matter who the Huskies put in the secondary, there was no answer to be had for the Eagles passing attack. It basically consisted of vertical throws down the sideline for touchdowns, passes to the flats for yards, and Vernon Adams scramble and throws for third-down conversions.

The Huskies appeared to have stopped EWU on one quarter possession, but a personal foul penalty on Marcus Peters gave the Eagles now life, and the possession turned into (what else?) a touchdown. Peters was promptly removed from the game by the coaching staff, and didn't return. Travell Dixon took his spot and showed up to play. Dixon is a very physical corner, and that doesn't mesh too well with the off coverage favored by Kwiatkowski and his staff (Instant dot on this).

Neither defense could get a single stop in the second half until Travis Feeney recovered a fumble forced by John Timu and Shaq Thompson halfway through the fourth quarter, with the Huskies up 52-45 following a touchdown and two-point conversion. Miles followed that up with his third rushing touchdown to put the Huskies up 59-45, but two fourth-down conversions on the ensuing drive by EWU kept their hopes alive, as they scored again to bring the game within one score.

After a failed onside kick, by Vernon Adams of all players, one first down finished the game off.

Instant Dots from a true barnburner of a game.

  • Petersen is really enjoying a running back stable. Jesse Callier started the game and received the first few carries. Even along the goalline, he rotated between Dwayne Washington and Coleman. Throughout the game, eight different players received carries. Callier, Ross, Washington, Coleman, Miles, Cooper, Mickens and Thompson. At the goalline, from what I saw, if the play involved a read with a QB keeper option, Washington would be the running back getting the call, otherwise it was Coleman. Going forward, these are the two guys to watch. I want to see some triple option with these two and Miles.
  • Most of the vertical route touchdowns by Adams and company came against physical defense, with little help over the top. One reason we are seeing a lot of soft coverages being called might be the fact that the younger secondary just isn't good at being physical at the line of scrimmage. Budda Baker was just shoved aside when he attempted to jam his man at the line. The only players who seemed to be effective with it were Peters and Dixon. If the team is modifying the scheme to incorporate more players, it would make sense that the Alabama transfer would see the field less.

    That being said, I would expect to see Dixon starting opposite Marcus Peters against Illinois as the Juskies are able to employ more physical defensive coverages.
  • Cyler Miles has a weapon that Jeff Lindquist doesn't have, his legs. Lindquist is regarded as the better passer of the two, but when he can't pass with any accuracy like in the Hawaii game, it won't matter. Miles may not have any arm strength, and it definitely shows when he is trying to get the ball out on bubble screens, but his running ability adds a whole 'nother option to the offense.
  • Danny Shelton is the best player on this defense, and probably the team. There are a lot of standouts, with Hau'oli Kikaha and Marcus Peters being the two most notable, but Shelton is a nose tackle who can now rush the passer. There are no nose tackles in the Pro Football Hall of Fame because nose tackles don't rack up counting stats like tackles and sacks. Shelton now has six sacks on the season, through two games. While facing triple teams on most every play.
  • Let's just dedicate this final Dot to stats.

    The teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense and 109 points.

    Danny Shelton recorded four sacks.

    John Ross had another touchdown of over 50 yards (55-yard reception)

    Cyler Miles rushed for three touchdowns.

    UW rushed for a total of 356 yards, and average of 6.2 yards per carry.

Let's all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

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