The Washington Huskies came out of the tunnel yesterday without any fans at Husky Stadium for their season-opening game.
They delivered a hard-fought 27-21 performance and were able to keep the Beavers from winning on the final drive.
Throughout the game, the Huskies had opportunities to gain separation on the scoreboard and put the game out of reach.
Offensively, the Huskies showed the ability to put together long sustained drives while running the football with physicality.
Defensively, they made some critical stops when they needed to and several young players got extensive playing time.
With a much-needed win this week, the Huskies came out and were able to feel good about themselves with all the uncertainty from the pandemic.
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…..
The biggest question coming in was who would be the starting quarterback. Coach Lake’s choice in redshirt freshman Dylan Morris showed some promise last night. When looking at the stat sheet, Morris didn’t have gaudy numbers by any means, but he did seem to have control of the offense. Morris made some nice throws for his first collegiate start and showed his mobility as well. He showed toughness and his ability to scramble with his nice run that resulted in the helmet-to-helmet collision. Clock management and being sharper will come in the weeks and games ahead. B
What stood out the most from this group was the physical nature they ran with, setting the tone early on. The success in the running game helped settle Morris down and allowed the Huskies to sustain drives. Each running back brings something different to the table. Sean McGrew showed great vision and speed, Kamari Pleasant was physical, Richard Newton was a “wrecking ball” and Cameron Davis was versatile with catching the ball too. A nice group effort from “The Stable”. A-
When breaking in a new quarterback, it’s important for the receivers to make plays so Morris can gain confidence and trust throughout the game. As far as impact, this group dropped some crucial passes that would have extended the lead and made the outcome more comfortable in the end. Those drops will get cleaned up, but this group had no touchdown catches last night and that will need to change. Terrell Bynum led all receivers, and his 44-yard reception in the fourth quarter was huge. B-
Offensive line coach Scott Huff has tried to find the right combo during fall camp and last night it seemed to work out very well. They were able to knock guys off the ball at the point of attack and open up some big holes for the running backs to take advantage of. Physicality starts in the trenches and the offensive mindset will be that way all season. Protecting Morris was a big priority in his first start and they did just that by not allowing him to take punishing hits or any sacks. A-
During the offseason, the question was how big of an impact would the departure of Levi Onwuzurike make? Last night, this group had some challenges with getting the necessary push to keep the Beavers running attack from getting downhill and gashing the Huskies with some big runs that kept drives alive. It isn’t always about making big plays that show up in the stat sheet. Shedding blocks and also eating up blocks to allow teammates to make tackles, are just as important. C
It was sort of a mixed bag for this group last night throughout the game. Early on, OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui made his presence known, stripping the ball and disrupting Beavers QB Tristan Gebbia. What needs to get cleaned up are the missed tackles and the linebackers’ ability to get off blocks and make plays. Too many times last night, their ability to make the right read and make plays allowed the Beavers offense to gain bigger yardage and keep the defense on the field longer than it should have. C
This wasn’t a typical game where tons of huge plays by this group defined their performance, but they made some big plays when they needed to. Elijah Molden made some crucial plays at the right time to end drives. Asa Turner‘s interception to end the game in the fourth quarter was a typical play the Husky secondary makes to win games. Not much was required downfield throughout the game but the DB’s were able to help keep everything in front of them. That’s the sign of a talented secondary. A-
From the start of the game, this position group underperformed and it will need to get cleaned up in a hurry. Long snapper Jaden Green was clearly juiced up on his first few snaps and one resulted in 7-points for the Beavers. Placekicker Peyton Henry missed a 28-yard field goal that would have made the outcome of the game a two-possession game down the stretch. The coverage units were not sound throughout the game, as they gave up long chunk yardage, which resulted in good field position for the Beavers. D+
We have to give the entire coaching staff a ton of credit for how they have kept the morale and focus of the team together during the uncertainly of the pandemic. Coach Lake has done a great job of having his positivity and confidence rub off on his players. Teams take on the personality of their head coach and it showed last night. Defensively, the Huskies have a lot to clean up and will have to find the right combinations going forward to circumvent injuries, experience, etc. Offensively, the new and revamped offense under offensive coordinator John Donovan did a good job with tempo and establishing the running game, which made Morris’ night a success for a first-time start. It wasn’t perfect by any means and there is a lot of improvement needed going forward, but in the end, it was a victory and that is the main goal correct? B
The most important measure of success lately has been how well the Huskies have dealt with a challenging year in 2020, like no other. Navigating a pandemic and keeping the entire football program safe and on task is a major achievement in itself. The fact that the Huskies were able to come out with the win after having their season opener at Cal get canceled the week before, just shows their makeup and resolve! There are a lot of new and moving parts to this year’s version of the Huskies. A new head coach, brand new offensive coordinator, first-time starters at several key positions, on both sides of the ball. Putting it all together, it may take some time for the Huskies to get everything cleaned up. The nice thing is that last night’s game provided the coaching staff some good film to improve. The biggest improvements usually happen between week one to week two. Expect Lake to be meticulous in getting things fixed, as he is a disciple of the X’s and O’s and is a tactician. The bottom line is the Huskies are 1-0 and have the potential to be great this season. The Jimmy Lake era is officially here. B
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