Washington vs. Utah Game Grades

The Washington Huskies entered their matchup against the Utah Utes looking to finally pull off a big win against an elite team.

In the end, the Huskies lost another heartbreaking game, with a 33-28 defeat, after leading in the first quarter and holding momentum.

At halftime, the score had the Huskies ahead at 14-13 with Utah holding momentum heading into the second half.

Offensively, the Huskies were able to have a successful first quarter and then they lost their consistency for the rest of the game.

Defensively, the Huskies were able to stop the run early, but couldn’t hold the Utes passing attack in check throughout the second half.

After suffering a second consecutive loss against elite Pac-12 teams, the Huskies enter a short week, as they play this Friday on the road.

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…..


Plain and simple, it was not a good performance for junior quarterback Jacob Eason.  Everyone will look at his four touchdowns on the stat sheet, but his poor decisions really changed the complexion of the game.  Throwing into triple coverage down in the red zone for an interception was uncalled for.  Even bigger was the “pick 6” he threw that swung the game over to the Utes and gave them life.  Early on he also had a fumble, that helped settle the Utes into the game.  D+


It was sort of a ho hum day for this group as there wasn’t much of an impact for the Husky offense.  Part of that is due to the fact that Utah’s defense is built to stop the run, which made the offensive game plan more geared towards throwing the football.  Junior Salvon Ahmed had some nice runs in the first half when he was used.  It’s hard to judge junior running back Sean McGrew because he wasn’t fully healthy.  The ground game was just supplemental offense.  C


What was once a question mark, this group is starting to become productive, due to the coaches using a variety of receivers lately.  Sophomore Terrell Bynum continues to impress and become a reliable target for Eason.  Junior Jordan Chin continues to provide a deep ball threat for Eason.  Junior tight end Hunter Bryant was absolutely sensational on the day with almost 100-yards and 2 TD’s.  Drops continue to be an issue on crucial plays and down the stretch. Tight end Devin Culp‘s drop comes to mind. B


On the day, the offensive line didn’t provide enough of an impact to help Eason get the offense into a rhythm.  Once again, some of that has to do with the elite defensive line of the Utes, but the Huskies have a ton of battle tested experience up front.  Eason was constantly under duress and had to rush some of his throws on critical downs to extend drives.  The Huskies only notched 60-yards off the ground and this group has to play more like veterans going forward.  C-


At the start of the game, it looked very promising for this group, as they were able to get constant pressure on Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley.  They were able to collapse Huntley and disrupt the flow of the Utah offense.  That wouldn’t last as Utah’s running game methodically started to wear down the Huskies up front.  Yes, they were going up against an elite running back in Zack Moss, but this group needs to prove they can be effective for all four quarters.  B-


This position group was sort of a mixed bag, so let’s break it down by specific groups and start with the positive.  Outside linebackers Joe Tryon and Ryan Bowman were outstanding.  It was Tryon’s best game as a Husky, as he constantly wreaked havoc on Huntley in the first half.  The inside linebacker group struggles continue with guys over pursuing, getting out of their gaps, bad angles and missed tackles?  Wasn’t that supposed to improve during the bye week?  C


Overall, it wasn’t the best day for this position group as they gave up some big plays in the passing game during important plays.  It was the passing game of the Utes that had their way in the second half, and that is on this group to “lock it down.”  Kyler Gordon and Dominique Hampton struggled in pass coverage, which yielded some explosive plays.  Keith Taylor had his best performance with a game high 8 tackles.  More interceptions need to be generated.  C


A positive for this unit was the punting game job done by Joel Whitford and Race Porter.  The punting game has been a huge area of success for the Huskies this season.  The onside kick by Peyton Henry didn’t give the Huskies much of a chance to recover it.  Tim Horn continues to show his strong leg on kickoffs.  The return game needs a spark – plain and simple!  Getting a big return to ignite the team and give the offense great field position needs to happen soon.  B


Heading into this contest, Washington head coach Chris Petersen boasted a 5-0 record at Washington coming off the bye week.  Giving Petersen two weeks to game plan for an opponent is usually a good thing, but it wasn’t the case yesterday.  Seeing vast improvement after a bye week is what you should see from most teams.  While you cannot question the effort of the players throughout the game, the same plaguing issues that have haunted this team showed up again. As the Huskies came out to a fast start again, for a second consecutive game, the coaches did a good job of having them emotionally ready to play out of the gate.  However, the team could not put together a full four-quarter game, which cost them another chance at a monumental win for the program.  The fact that the team couldn’t hold their edge for more than the first quarter and a half, and the lack of execution for an entire game falls directly on the coaching staff as Petersen admitted that fact after the game.  Poor tackling, no separation by receivers, etc. should have been somewhat fixed during the bye week, but it evidently wasn’t.  Offensively, it seems like the play calling has good stretches and then there is a “too cute” patch that has you scratching your head?  Defensively, the Huskies were not able to stop the run for all four quarters, but it was the Utes passing game that did the damage in the second half.  As the head coach, Petersen was brought to Montlake to win these big games and lately the magic has not been there.  It’s easy to push the narrative of a young and inexperienced roster, but at some point it has to come back to Petersen not winning the big games.  The Huskies have three losses at home this season which is hard to fathom.  We are going to find out a lot about this coaching staff over the course of final three remaining games.  C-


Give the team some credit, this is the second consecutive game that they stood toe-to-toe with two elite teams in the entire nation.  In both matchups, they were in position to win both games, but couldn’t “finish” the deal.  The players always play hard and the effort is there, but something has been missing all season from the team.  The ability to “close out” big games on both sides of the ball has been a major issue.  Yes, the team is young, and there are growing pains going on everywhere, but we can’t keep using that as an excuse.  There is enough talent on the roster to close out one of the three close games they have had this season (California, Oregon, Utah).  This team needs to develop a “killer instinct’ and possess an attitude that “I’m not going to let another team leave Husky Stadium with a victory.” A mentality of “this is our house” is necessary in finding their way to stay “connected” and then ultimately win together.  At the beginning of the season, if you would have told any of us that the Huskies would be 2-4 in the Pac-12 Conference, we would have said that you were “nuts.”  It seems as if the Huskies have lost that “mojo” that Petersen and staff had built up over the past few years, and they need to find a way to get it back and in a hurry.  In the past, we could just routinely say, “it’s ok…they will win out.”  Well…will they?  Nothing is guaranteed on the schedule and nobody is afraid of the Huskies this season.  While it’s positive that the Huskies were somewhat close to knocking off the #9 team in the country, for coming off the bye week, I think Husky fans were looking for something more.  Time to regroup again, find the focus and prepare for a scrappy Beavers squad.  C


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