The Washington Huskies played on the road yesterday at Autzen Stadium in front of a hostile crowd against their rival the Oregon Ducks.
It was an opportunity for them to make a big statement to the nation, but rather it turned into a devastating 30-27 loss.
While the game was close, the Huskies had many opportunities down the stretch to put the game away but couldn’t seal the deal.
Many will walk away from this game and wonder what could have been and what should have been done differently.
The Huskies walked into the matchup with the Ducks where all the intangibles were in Oregon’s favor. The Ducks had the benefit of the bye week, rested players, an extra week to game plan and the comforts of playing at home.
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…..
After Jake Browning‘s interception on the first drive of the game, the senior quarterback played a great game. He managed the game very well and was able to make some clutch and crucial throws to extend drives. Browning ended up 15/25 for 243 yards, 1 TD and 1 pick. Down the stretch, Browning looked like a poised quarterback and led the team down the field nicely at the end of regulation and put the team in position to win the game. A
This was an unorthodox game for this group as both star running backs in Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed were injured and not playing throughout the game. It allowed for backups Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant to showcase their skills and they did not disappoint. While Gaskin and Ahmed battled back to play at the end, the group as a whole played very well. They gained 194 yards on the ground and two TD’s. A-
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
While the wide receivers have usually been the stars of the game each week, it was the play of the tight ends that was impressive. Senior leader Drew Sample made some clutch catches during the game and finished with 4 catches for 79 yards. Cade Otton shined as well with 2 catches for 36 yards. Receiver Ty Jones had a nice TD for 43 yards as well. Usual star Aaron Fuller was held in check with only 2 catches for 15 yards. B-
Many times throughout the course of the game, Browning was flushed out of the pocket and running for his life. It seems like this group should be able to get more push up front and create more holes to run through, and more time for Browning to throw the ball. Oregon won the line of scrimmage with their physicality throughout the game. This group has to find ways to get the rushers easier yards on a consistent basis. C+
One glaring issue each week is the inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback, and this group is not able to do that regularly with three down linemen. Oregon QB Justin Herbert was able to sit back there and do whatever he wanted. The Oregon offensive line won the line of scrimmage and were able to give pass protection and facilitate an 111 yard rushing performance by running back CJ Verdell. C+
This group was outstanding for the most part as the senior inside linebackers tandem had exceptional games. Tevis Bartlett was all over the place making crucial tackles and using leverage to his advantage. Of course, Ben Burr-Kirven finished with 19 total tackles and was swarming to the ball all over the field as usual. The only knock on this group is the vanished pass rush off the edge from the outside linebackers which is a huge issue. B-
Throughout the game, the Oregon wide receivers were able to make crucial plays and extend drives. The Husky secondary had their hands full with Oregon slot receiver Dillon Mitchell who had 119 yards on 8 catches. It’s uncharacteristic of the defensive backs unit to give up that many yards to one receiver. They need to get more help up front with getting more pressure on the quarterback so they are not left on an island. Some missed one-on-one tackles in space also proved costly. C
As a crucial part of every game, this group could have played better. Obviously the missed winning FG by Peyton Henry hurt. The kickoff coverage unit allowed the Ducks to gain big yards on returns with a long of 56 yards. Those types of plays change the momentum during the course of the game. The Pooch kicks to the sideline need better execution with kicking them further down the field. Also, the kickoffs need to find their way into the end zone on a regular basis by Henry. D
While the coaches had the team focused and ready to play, it seemed as if head coach Chris Petersen himself played not to lose as opposed to playing to win! There were some questionable decisions at the end of regulation and also in the overtime period. It seemed as if offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan took the ball out of Browning’s hands to win the game with the wildcat and other play calls. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake seemed to call a questionable coverage with dropping eight into coverage on 3rd and 11 in overtime. Overall, the coaches played very conservative down the stretch and trusted the fate of the game on a freshman kicker who has struggled at times. It left everyone to wonder why they didn’t put their trust in their senior quarterback who had been playing well, especially at the end of the game? On the sidelines, Browning was shaking his head and visibly upset that he wasn’t given that chance! C-
Give the players credit for their effort and being ready to play. Everything was stacked against them in this game and all the cards were in Oregon’s favor heading into the game. With all of that, the Huskies came up one play short of winning the game and actually should have won it with the field goal at the end. It still seemed as if the team should have been able to muster up enough to not lose to their rivals on the grand stage. The Huskies are 0-2 this year on the grand stage with losses to Auburn and Oregon and elite teams close those games out. The coaches seemed a bit rattled at the end of the game and for as much praise as they get, they should have made sure they didn’t lose that game. Time for the team to regroup and find some “fuel” as Petersen said after the game. How these guys respond after a crushing loss will determine what kind of postseason they are headed towards. B-