Washington vs. California Game Grades

The Washington Huskies started out the Pac-12 conference slate, on a night where the story line was the inclement weather.

In the end, the Huskies fell short for a second consecutive season with losing 20-19, by a field goal in the waning seconds of the game.

After a long weather delay that saw thunder and lightning, the Huskies played in front of a decimated crowd into the early hours of the morning.

Offensively, the Huskies were searching all night long for consistent flow and rhythm and never found it as they gained only 348 total yards.

Defensively, there were missed tackles and the inability to stop the run as the Huskies allowed the Bears to march down the field at will.

Struggling to readjust after battling the elements, the young Huskies were unable to execute down the stretch and pull out the victory.

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

After an amazing debut the previous game, last night was an entirely different story for junior Jacob Eason.  Against a good secondary, Eason was unable to get the offense into rhythm all game long.  Eason seemed very indecisive and when facing pressure, decided to tuck away the ball and run.  Even though his receivers dropped a bunch of passes, Eason just wasn’t as sharp and pinpoint as needed.  Oh..the Jacob Sirmon snap was head scratching too.  C

RUNNING BACKS

It was a good breakout game by junior Salvon Ahmed with gaining 119 yards on 21 carries, and the momentum changing 21-yard TD run.  The running back by committee still seems like it needs to be smoothed out by the coaches.  For this position group as a whole, they must find a way to control the tempo of the game, especially down the stretch.  More tough yardage conversions on third downs and physical running between the tackles will be needed this season.  C+

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

On a night where Eason needed his receivers to step up and help him out, it was a rough night for this group.  What clearly stands out are the multiple dropped passes, at crucial times where they chains needed to be moved.  This is two straight weeks now where the receivers were led in receptions by tight end Hunter Bryant.  While he is an obvious target, the receivers themselves are going to have to be special for this offense to find it’s way consistently.  D+

OFFENSIVE LINE

The performance of this group was ho hum on the night as it still seems hard to spring the running backs loose for big runs.  Getting the backs into the second level on a regular basis has been missing.  Eason was protected pretty well on a whole, when he dropped back, but the inability to consistently pick up the Bears blitzing schemes and make adjustments proved costly.  False start penalties at critical times were an Achilles heel, which stunted momentum.  C+

DEFENSIVE LINE 

During the first half, the defensive line played very stout and held the Bears rushing attack in check, making things look promising.  In the second half, this group had trouble plugging their gaps and playing assignment sound football, which made the line run out of gas towards the end of the game.  By not being able to push the pocket consistently enough, Cal quarterback Chase Garbers was able to extend plays and get too mobile, which proved critical.  C+

LINEBACKERS

This was a tough night for the entire linebackers group as a whole.  What clearly stands out here is the missed tackles throughout the entire game.  This group has to find a way to wrap up better, and especially with the ball carrier.  The pass rush off the edge still isn’t consistent enough for the Huskies to dominate on defense as a whole.  Garbers broke contain so many times last night, and the backers were not able to make the adjustment and corral him at crucial times.  D

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Throughout the night, it seemed as if the Bears were purposely picking on the Husky corners, especially during that last drive of the game.  Pass interference calls have been an issue this season, as the young secondary is learning the balance between hands and feet.  With Bryant still adjusting to his new safety role, there were missed tackles and misreads on assignments that kept the chains moving for the Bears.  This group will have to improve its communication.  C+

SPECIAL TEAMS

Without a doubt the most improved position group on the team so far this season.  The story of the night was placekicker Peyton Henry and his clutch 49-yard FG late, to give the Huskies a chance to win the game.  He also was 4 for 4 on the night, and is performing at a high level.  Joel Whitford looked solid on punts and Tim Horn has a very strong leg on kickoffs.  The return game had some nice returns that provided a spark, and coverages are locking it down.  A-

COACHING

This was a tough night overall for the entire coaching staff.  With a chance to avenge their loss from a season ago, it seemed as if the Bears coaching staff had their players more focused and prepared to play.  Redzone issues really plagued the Huskies once again last night, which brought back memories from last season.  Defensively, the Huskies allowed the Bears to march down the field too many times and have their way.  It has been a while since the Huskies have allowed an inferior opponent to come into Husky Stadium and come way with a victory like that.  Give the coaches credit for dealing with the extreme weather delay the best way they could, which was uncharted territory for everyone.  There were some clock management and timeout scenarios down the stretch that were questionable.  After the shocking defeat, this is definitely a time of introspection and analysis for the coaching staff to see where they go from here.  This is a very skilled staff with a proven track record of success and bouncing back, which they should fully do next week, but last night’s defeat shouldn’t have happened.  D+

ENTIRE TEAM

What comes to mind here is the craziness of the weather delay and how the Huskies had to deal with that adversity.  Players said they stayed loose in the locker room and were watching other games to pass the time.  With the opportunity to avenge their loss from last year and squelch any idea that the Bears were better than them, the Huskies couldn’t get it done.  Yes this was an earlier conference game than normal, but the Huskies have the better roster and talent than the Bears have.  This was a statement game opportunity for the Huskies to show the conference what kind of team they are going to be this season.  Youth showed last night at some position groups and the coaching staff will have to get them coached up fairly quickly.  The good news is that the season is still early and the Huskies have every opportunity to right the ship and still have a successful season.  Winning the conference title and making it back to the Rose Bowl is still within their grasp, but no more clunkers will be allowed.  Full expectation is for the Huskies to rebound and use last night as fuel going forward.  C-