Washington vs. Arizona Game Grades

The Washington Huskies traveled down to the desert looking for their first night win of the season against the Arizona Wildcats.

In the end, the Huskies came out and dominated the second half on their way to a 51-27 rout and a complete team win.

Even though the score at halftime had the Huskies trailing the Wildcats, the energy and effort was much different this week.

Offensively, the Huskies were able to finally breakthrough and move the ball down the field for some explosive plays.

Defensively, the Huskies had a masterful game plan, in completely shutting down Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate all night long.

With their commanding victory over the Wildcats, the Huskies renewed their momentum and confidence for the road ahead.

We will now take a look at each position group and coaching staff on the Huskies, and how they fared last night. Here are how things graded out…..

QUARTERBACKS

In the first half, quarterback Jacob Eason struggled to find his rhythm in the passing game, and rushed some throws to extend drives.  It was a much different scenario in the second half, as Eason was a major catalyst in getting the Husky offense on track.  What comes to mind are the explosive plays he was able to deliver down the field.  It wasn’t only his arm strength, but his touch on the fade pass to WR Aaron Fuller, that was impressive.  Eason delivered in the clutch!  B+

RUNNING BACKS

With the absence of redshirt freshman Richard Newton, the bulk of the load was picked up nicely by Sean McGrew and Salvon Ahmed.  Both players together combined for over 200 yards on the ground, which was crucial to the Husky offense having some success.  McGrew continues to attack opposing defenses by hitting the holes hard, while Ahmed just brings a freakish home run threat every time he touches the ball.  Running between the tackles effectively will need to improve.  B+

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

Well Husky Nation..you got your wish!  True freshman Puka Nacua got more reps and he made the most of them.  He led the team in reception yards with 97 total.  Nacua brings a “big play threat” skill set to the table, and the fire and emotion rubbed off on the team.  There was a Jordan Chin sighting!  Fuller had a spectacular over the shoulder grab for a TD.  Tight end Hunter Bryant was back to his usual self, and was a threat all game long, while Jack Westover mania began!  The drops were kept to a minimum this week.  B+

OFFENSIVE LINE

Early on in the game, this group struggled to gain push and adequately protect Jacob Eason.  Some of that had to do with senior center Nick Harris not playing, and then sophomore Jaxson Kirkland went down to injury.  In their places, redshirt freshman Matteo Mele and sophomore Henry Bainivalu had to pick up the slack.  Bainivalu struggled early, but then as the game went on he settled in.  This group protected Eason better in the second half, but still needs to get more push up front.  B

DEFENSIVE LINE

For several weeks, the clamoring for more pressure on the quarterback from this group has been heard.  Last night, they were able to disrupt Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, and force him to run backwards for most of the night.  They were aggressive and in constant pursuit of Tate, which was a major factor in the outcome of the game.  There was a momentary lapse in the second quarter, which caused momentum to change, but overall it was a very effective night.  B+

LINEBACKERS

This was one of the best games all season by both the inside linebackers and also the outside linebackers.  Brandon Wellington got himself another defensive touchdown and answered the bell as he promised he would during last week’s interviews.  It was a coming out party for Ariel Ngata, who was used some on the inside, resulting in him leading the team with 8 tackles.  Joe Tryon and Ryan Bowman brought constant pressure from the outside, which frustrated Arizona’s offense.  B+

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Overall it was a solid effort from this position group.  With the constant pressure up front on Tate, this group was able to mostly keep everything in front of them and not get beat on explosive plays.  True freshman Asa Turner continues to impress and make his move up the depth chart.  The kid has a knack for swarming around the football.  Myles Bryant continues to flourish in his safety role and had some effective safety blitzes.  There were some missed tackles but nothing alarming.  B+

SPECIAL TEAMS

Let’s start with the positive..the blocked punt by Levi Onwuzurike, and also the Arizona muffed punt return that Kyler Gordon recovered, were all huge momentum plays.  These are the things that help opposing teams settle down on the road.  The not so positive…Fuller muffed a punt of his own, even though it appeared a teammate got into his way a little bit.  Tim Horn had the out-of-bounds kickoff penalty.  Peyton Henry is still perfect and Joel Whitford had a career high 67-yard punt.  Coverage units were pretty solid.  B+

COACHING

Give the coaches a ton of credit for getting the team ready to play this week, in another late-night game scenario.  Playing on the road and in the desert was a tricky task for the Huskies to conquer and they succeeded.  The entire coaching staff was under fire and scrutiny all week long and rightfully so, after the Stanford debacle last weekend.  One obvious place to always start is with the energy, emotion and fire of the team.  From the out start, the Huskies showed way more this week than the previous week, and they were focused.  With a young roster, it would have been easy for the team to fall off the path mentally after a tough loss, but the coaching staff kept them on track.  That is not surprising for a Chris Petersen coached football team, as they rarely lay an egg two weeks in a row.  Defensively, Jimmy Lake had a masterful game plan, and completely took Khalil Tate out of the equation, making him confused all night long.  Credit to Lake for dialing up the pressure all night long.  Offensively, Bush Hamdan called a better game this week and was able to get the offense going with explosive plays.  There was some good creativity and play innovation at some important times to extend drives and score.  The red zone issues are still glaring and need to be fixed, but it was nice to see the offense have some success for a change.  Overall, a sound plan by the entire coaching staff this week, as they were on the other side of the ledger this week, with out scheming their opponent.  B+

ENTIRE TEAM

After one of the toughest defeats in recent memory last weekend, the Huskies responded to the challenge and rebounded nicely.  We often talk about the X’s and O’s, because after all, that’s what the game of football is about.  One thing that stood out throughout the game is that the team played “connected” and “together” this week.  Everyone seemed to be on the same page and players were smiling together, having fun and celebrating (500 pushups worth for Ariel Ngata).  In a somber moment, the team rallied around injured inside linebacker MJ Tafisi and were able to refocus and win for their fallen brother and teammate!  What gets lost sometimes is the emotion that comes with playing college football, and there seemed to be a lack of that against Stanford.  Getting up off the canvas is never easy when you take one on the chin, but the Huskies rallied together and were able to “right the ship” last night.  There were plenty of narratives that were bestowed on them all week, but they kept things in perspective and never wavered, which is a testament to the entire team this week.  Even Eason himself, after the game said he was more vocal than usual this week in the the locker room.  All three phases of the game where clicking at the same time last night, for most of the game.  The Huskies have proven that when that happens, they are a dangerous team to beat.  When they are all out of sync, they are vulnerable and beatable by anybody.  It wasn’t entirely perfect, but it was nice to see them bounce back!  The Huskies solved the late-night kickoff mystery, and at just the right time.  Much needed momentum and swagger is restored to Montlake with the Nike U’s heading to town this coming week!  B+

 

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