Huskies vs. Utah Game Grades

The Washington Huskies went into one of the toughest places to play in the conference and pulled out the 21-7 win.  It was a night where the Huskies were trying to find their identity on offense, and get their ground game going.

On defense the Huskies were as good as advertised, and imposed their will on the struggling Utah offense.  Husky defenders were delivering punishing hits all night long and the Utes receivers felt the impact.

With some mistakes being made down the stretch, the Huskies were able to rely upon their staunch defense to bail them out.  Starting conference play on the right note with a 1-0 record helps set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Huskies have a chance to build upon their momentum they gained from their win last night, as they return home this week.  They will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils this Saturday night at Husky Stadium.

We will now take a look at how each position group for the Huskies fared last night and also how the coaching staff graded out…..

QUARTERBACKS

Coming into the game, everyone wanted the play of senior quarterback Jake Browning to improve and it certainly did.  He made some good decisions for the most part, and found a way to make some big throws during the course of the game.  Browning had a pretty clean sheet until that horrendous interception he threw in the fourth quarter.  He still seems to hold onto the ball too long but overall an improved and gritty performance.  B-

RUNNING BACKS

There were some who were worried about Myles Gaskin and the lack of the running game coming into the game.  Gaskin was able to gain 143 yards on 30 carries with a TD.  That would make for a perfect performance on almost any night, but the Husky coaches still need to find a way to incorporate Salvon Ahmed into the offense more.  Still seems like the running game can become cleaner but it was nice to see #9 take over again.  B+

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Remember when this group was supposed to be the weak link this season?  That is no longer the case.  The receivers made some big contributions last night which helped the offensive production.  Aaron Fuller had 6 catches for 108 yards and Ty Jones had a crucial TD to help ice the game.  The Tight Ends are blocking well but the coaches need to find a way to get them incorporated more on 3rd down pass plays.  B

OFFENSIVE LINE

This group was one of the biggest strengths heading into the season and now it is a question mark.  The offensive line did better protecting Browning this week and giving him time to throw, but there doesn’t seem to be enough push.  The coaches have to find the right combination immediately, especially at left tackle.  There seems to be a big drop-off trying to replace Trey Adams and staying healthy is an issue right now.  C-

DEFENSIVE LINE 

Having a stalwart in the middle of the line like Greg Gaines really helped the defense last night as he notched two sacks.  Jaylen Johnson continues to play sound football and make his presence felt.  While the play of these two players has been great, the Huskies need another defensive lineman to step up and have a stellar season.  Two guys can’t get it done by themselves and depth will be crucial here throughout conference play.  B

LINEBACKERS

The play of this group was solid for the most part as inside linebacker Ben-Burr-Kirven recorded 11 tackles and led the entire team.  The outside linebackers seem to still struggle with getting a consistent pass rush off the edge.  They got away with it last night because Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley is an average passer.  Once they face a good passing quarterback, that pressure will be essential to their success going forward.  C+

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Setting the tone last night defensively was done by the secondary of the Huskies as they owned the Utah receivers.  Delivering punishing hit-after-hit, cornerback Byron Murphy and safety Jojo McIntosh brought the enforcer mentality!  Cornerback Jordan Miller played great with his blanket coverage and interception.  This unit is the strength of the entire team and they literally bailed out the offense several times last night.  A

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Huskies have yet to make an impact with their kickoff and punt returns but having a sure-handed Aaron Fuller back gives the coaches peace of mind.  Peyton Henry was able to kick the ball into the end zone last night for the first time all season.  With Joel Whitford out due to injury, the line drive punts by Race Porter are an issue and Utah received good field position all night long.  They need Whitford to return soon!  C

COACHING

You have to give credit to the coaching staff for having the Huskies ready to play and focused from the initial drive.  It was a typical Chris Petersen gutty and inspired win on the road for the Huskies in a hostile environment.  Defensively, Jimmy Lake is bringing a physical and aggressive style to his play calling.  The offense is still very inconsistent and the offensive play calling needs to smooth itself out pretty quickly.  B

ENTIRE TEAM

Overall it was an inspired effort and a great road win to start out conference play.  The elite play of the defense seems to mask the inefficiencies of the offense on a regular basis.  There is a ton of work to do for this team to try and win a Pac-12 championship and reach the College Football Playoff.  We are still waiting for this team to have that “killer instinct” and demolish opponents just like a top-ten team should.  B-

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