Washington vs. Stanford Game Grades

The Washington Huskies were looking to come out to a fast start this week and impose their will early on the Cardinal.

Rather, the Huskies came out of the tunnel flat and fell behind to a large deficit in the first half and then again at halftime.

It was the second consecutive week that the Huskies started slow and found themselves chasing 21 points on the scoreboard.

Offensively, the Huskies looked out of sorts and finally got some momentum in the second half by taking shots down the field

Defensively, they couldn’t get off the field on third down conversions and surrendered a score on almost every drive.

Overall, the Huskies couldn’t put together two halves in a football game and find that consistency needed to win the game.

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

The one positive for Dylan Morris is that he had zero turnovers this week, which is usually a sign of good decision making.  While there were no turnovers from Morris, he also left some plays out on the field that could have made things simpler for the offense.  His stat line looked decent going 15 for 23, 254 yards, but he also had zero touchdown passes to show for it.  Morris made some nice scramble plays with his legs and showed that he is faster than some think.  The deep throws, especially to WR Ty Jones seemed to be more accurate this week.  C

RUNNING BACKS

This group has been a running back by committee approach all season and this week Sean McGrew got the start.  He had some nice gains and finished with 16 carries, 67-yards and two TD’s.  After that, there was a big dropoff in production and Morris was actually the next leader in yards.  It can be argued that this group didn’t have a bunch of holes and space to run through, but someone else has to step up and carry the load.  The bigger question is what is going on with Richard Newton?  Is he in the coach’s proverbial “doghouse’?  C

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS

The big news coming into the game was two of the top receivers on the team were not available to play in Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum.  That’s obviously a huge chunk of production when going against Stanford’s defense, who sold out to stop the run.  In their place, true freshmen Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan were thrust into the fire.  Odunze looked pretty good and showed why he will be a future star on Montlake.  McMillan got hurt and Ty Jones stepped up and had a career day.  His one-handed grab was the top play on ESPN this morning.  C

OFFENSIVE LINE

All season long this group had prided itself on their massive size and ability to play “bully” ball and push people off the ball.  That was not the case at all yesterday.  The inability to get push and open up running lanes, and allow the backs to get into the second level of the defense, proved costly for the Husky offense.  What was head-scratching was the Cardinal defense entered the game giving up over 200-yards rushing per game?  This group should have imposed their will, but it didn’t happen.  The holding penalty on Ulumoo Ale to overturn the touchdown was a big momentum swing.  C-

DEFENSIVE LINE 

As they always say, the game of football is won and lost in the trenches, and yesterday this group got pushed around all game long.  Stanford had their way up front, as the line wasn’t able to get any true pressure on Stanford QB Davis Mills. They were not able to plug gaps and stop the running attack of the Cardinal.  This group has to become more consistent and make a bigger impact, as it puts a stress on the rest of the defense.  At some point, this group should have made the adjustment and made it harder for Stanford to run the ball.  D+

LINEBACKERS

One of the best stories of the year for this group has been the rise and ascension of OLB Zion Tupuola-Fetui.  He came into the game leading the nation in sacks but he was rendered a non-impact by the Stanford front.  All game long the Huskies had zero sacks to show for their effort. They have to do a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback.  ILB Edefuan Ulofoshio finished the game with 18 tackles total, with 13 of those solo, and the huge fumble recovery; but some of that is a result of cleaning up plays that shouldn’t happen.  ILB Jackson Sirmon looked hesitant, especially in pass coverage.  D+

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Plain and simple, it was a lackluster day for this group, which doesn’t happen very often.  What stuck out was the inability to get stops down the stretch on the final drive and on several key 3rd down conversions. These combined seemed to doom the Huskies defense.  The coaches shuffled things around with the starting lineup, as Alex Cook didn’t start and was replaced by Kyler Gordon.  All-everything Elijah Molden started at safety instead of the nickel spot, which was a twist.  Missed tackles and several bad angles cost the Huskies all game long.  D

SPECIAL TEAMS

After the game, head coach Jimmy Lake said, “I’m not pleased at all with our kickoff coverage unit.”  Too many times, Stanford was able to gain some great field position from players being out of their lanes, which made things harder for the Husky defense.  Peyton Henry looked great, especially with the 45-yard field goal.  The missed extra point looked like a breakdown in protection and that will definitely need to get fixed heading into some big games coming up for the Huskies.  Overall, this group needs to perform at a higher and consistent level.  C-

COACHING

What seems to be a mystery and something of major concern, is why the team has come out to slow starts the last two weeks, putting them in 21-point holes at halftime.  Asked after the game if it was a lack of energy situation, Lake said, “I don’t feel that. The guys are juiced up and ready to go.”  Regardless of what the reason is, the coaches need to get it figured out in a hurry, because playing only one half of football isn’t going to get it done, and that falls directly on the entire coaching staff.  Let’s face it!  Stanford has been a bad matchup for the Huskies and head coach David Shaw has seemed to have the Huskies number for most of the matchups.  Offensively, the playcalling by offensive coordinator John Donovan was questionable.  Stanford sold out to stop the run and Donovan should have thrown the ball more and taken shots down the field in the first half to offset that pressure.  Defensively, the game plan by defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski didn’t work, as the Huskies were unable to stop the run all game long.  Some starting lineup changes and experiments seemed to backfire on Coach K and company.  This is the first loss for head coach Jimmy Lake and his young career, which is a learning experience.  The team seemed slow and flat out of the gate and the coaches need to address that quickly.  D

ENTIRE TEAM

Motivation is a big deal with college football as it creates emotion, which is what you need to win ballgames.  The clear motivation for this group was to remember what happened to them down on “The Farm” last season and make sure that didn’t happen again at Husky Stadium.  Those are the types of things that can cause a team to have a quicker start and be sharp right from the get-go.  It’s been two straight weeks of incredibly slow starts for the Huskies and that falls on the coaches and the players alike.  2020 has provided many new challenges for the team to deal with, while navigating through them.  After the game, WR Ty Jones hinted that players were unable to play not only because of injuries but because of the Covid-19 protocol guidelines.  The Huskies started out the season strong and are now in that part of the season where they have to remain focused and sharp for a full 60-minutes to win these tough games.  The team has enjoyed the comfort of playing at Husky Stadium through the first four games of the season.  Now they will travel on the road for their first experience of the season, and it happens to be against Oregon.  There is no time to sulk and let the sting of the Stanford loss linger.  The team gets credit for not giving up and fighting all the way to the end with another comeback attempt.  They should be making things a lot easier for themselves as an entire team.  It’s time to finish out the season strong with a lot to play for this week.  D+

 

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