Washington vs. Oregon Game Grades

The Washington Huskies entered their matchup against the Oregon Ducks looking to reassert themselves into the Pac-12 race.

In the end, the Huskies lost in heartbreaking fashion, with a 35-31 defeat, after leading for most of the game and being firmly in control.

At halftime, the score had the Huskies ahead at 21-14 and some momentum heading into the second half, where they received the ball first.

Offensively, the Huskies were able to establish a rushing attack throughout the game, which opened up some big plays in the passing game.

Defensively, the Huskies had a masterful game plan, they stopped the run in the first half, but in the second half it was a much different story.

After suffering a second consecutive loss to the Ducks, the Huskies enter the bye week for some much-needed rest and a chance to regroup.

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…..


The play of junior quarterback Jacob Eason was pretty darn good throughout the entire game.  It was a clean performance and he delivered some big time throws that broke the game open for the Huskies.  He finished 23 of 30, 289 yards and 3 TD’s, despite not having one of his trusted targets to throw to.  Without Eason’s ability to throw the ball firmly down the field, the Huskies wouldn’t have had a chance to win.  He still needs to find a way to not reverse the field under pressure.  B+


For the most part, the production and load from this group had to be carried by junior running back Salvon Ahmed, and it did a fantastic job.  Ahmed is proving that he can shoulder a 20+ carry load each week.  He is also running more effectively between the tackles each week.  With junior Sean McGrew out for the game, the versatility was lacking with this group.  The huge dropped pass by junior Kamari Pleasant comes to mind, but he hasn’t played much this season.  B


With senior Aaron Fuller sidelined for most of the game, some other receivers saw action, and they were very productive.  Sophomore receiver Terrell Bynum stepped up and led with 6 receptions on the day.  Junior Jordan Chin had the nice 48-yard touchdown reception from Eason.  True Freshman Puka Nacua continues to impress.  Junior tight end Hunter Bryant and sophomore tight end Cade Otton had great games.  The drops were kept to a minimum this week.  B


In assessing the production of the offense, the group did a good job of protecting Eason and gave him time throughout most of the game to deliver the ball down the field.  With the running game, the line was able to open up some holes and creases for Ahmed to run between the tackles and extend drives.  The ability to finish is what senior center Nick Harris pointed to after the game.  The final drive was sabotaged when Eason took the 12-yard sack, which proved critical.  B


What stands out with this group, is the lack of being able to push the pocket on Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert.  There was minimal pressure on him the entire game.  Of course, the Huskies were going up against one of the most experienced lines in the nation, but those battles up front are critical.  Not staying in gaps and playing assignment sound football was an issue with this group.  Senior Levi Onwuzurike had a good game, but stopping the run has been an issue all season.  C


One of the bright spots was senior inside linebacker Brandon Wellington. He had one of his best games on the stat sheet, with 11 total tackles.  The ability of the Husky front seven to stop the run was a major issue in the second half and the missed tackles, bad angles and blown assignments really showed down the stretch.  The outside linebackers were not able to get any consistent pressure on Herbert, which was a major factor to Oregon’s offense finding their groove.  D+


Two things stood out with this position group, which played a factor in the game.  The Huskies didn’t produce any turnovers this week, which usually is generated from the secondary.  It ignites the team and gives the offense more opportunities to score.  This group has to improve on their tackling as well and cover better on crucial downs that extend plays.  Wrapping up and not missing tackles will need to be addressed during the bye week and moving forward.  C+


Overall, this group had another solid performance.  Coverage unit wise, the Huskies didn’t allow the Ducks to break any big momentum changing runs.  Sophomore placekicker Peyton Henry remained perfect, with his 30-yard field goal and the punting by senior Joel Whitford continued to be effective.  The punt by junior Race Porter wasn’t quite as successful.  The Huskies still need to find a way for a big return, even with the referees deciding to penalize that trick play. B


Let’s start with the positive…you have to give the Husky coaching staff some credit, they had the team ready to play and prepared enough to pull off the upset.  Yes, the Huskies started out a little amped up for the game, with some early penalties, etc. but that is to be expected when playing against your rival.  As Petersen said after the game, they never question the effort of their players and that its always there.  Defensively, the Huskies had a solid game plan of trying to stop the run and it worked beautifully for an entire first half of football.  They were able to keep the Ducks in check off the ground, which kept Oregon’s offense off rhythm.  In the second half, it was a much different story, as the Ducks asserted themselves with their power running game.  The Huskies couldn’t find ways to consistently stop it like they did in the first half, which was a huge reason the Ducks were able to manufacture their comeback.  Offensively, offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan called a pretty smart game, up until the third quarter when things started to unravel for the Huskies.  The running game was working great with RB Salvon Ahmed all day long and they chose to go with the “Wildcat” on some crucial plays.  Trying to get too cute with play calls when a much better option was leaving QB Jacob Eason in the game and continuing with what was working.  Keep in mind, the Huskies two best options for running the ‘Wildcat” in RB Richard Newton and RB Sean McGrew were sidelined with injury.  Washington head coach Chris Petersen brought out the trickery with the kickoff return early in the 1st quarter, which showed a new wrinkle they saved for this matchup.  The same issues that have plagued the team this season with missed tackles really stood out in this game.  This was a big game for the Huskies and the program.  While the coaches had the players prepared, this staff has to find a way to hold a 14-point lead at home and in the second half.  Losing to your rival again and allowing them to celebrate on your field should not have happened and the Huskies played well enough to win that game.  Back to the drawing board for this staff during the bye week.  C+


Give the team some credit, they stood toe-to-toe with the #12 team in the nation, even though to Husky fans – it was the Ducks.  Throughout the season so far, it has been a roller coaster of emotions from week-to-week.  After building some momentum with their road win over the Arizona Wildcats last week, the Huskies entered this game with the confidence that they could win it.  Emotionally, the Huskies were connected and into this game, with feeding off some big touchdown plays that energized the sideline.  The biggest thing that this team needs to learn how to do and figure out quickly, is how to finish.  In two losses at home this season, the Husky defense gave up a critical drive in the fourth quarter that helped decide the game.  Obviously the Huskies are young at several key positions and learning how to finish comes with experience, but sometime soon they will have to close out a tight game.  Clearly, the Huskies have not given up on their season, as evidenced with their strong effort yesterday.  There is a difference between effort and execution.  The effort was there but the execution wasn’t there for an entire 60-minutes and especially at the end.  Another learning experience for this team and a chance for them to take advantage of the bye week and rest up physically and mentally for the final stretch of the season.  A tough game awaits them again against the #13 Utah Utes when they return.  I fully expect a rested Husky team to play their best football of the season and hopefully get some injured players back on the field.  B-


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