The Washington Huskies squared off in the Apple Cup against the Washington State Cougars in the Palouse, with a Pac-12 North Division title on the line.
It was a true test of wills, as the snow and chilly conditions blanked Martin Stadium and both teams were trying to find an edge.
The Husky offense came out and stayed true to their identity, by controlling the game with their rushing attack and keeping the Cougars at bay.
Defensively, the Huskies dominated Washington State’s powerful offense once again, and never let them make any explosive plays down the field.
With the 28-15 win, the Huskies clinched the Pac-12 North Division and earned themselves a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game next week.
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…..
Overall, it was a good night for senior quarterback Jake Browning. He was able to overcome his momentum changing interception and manage an efficient game for the Huskies. He finished with a stat line of 11 of 14 for 207 yards with 1 pick and 1 fumble. Most importantly, he provided senior leadership with his experience in tough games. Browning made some big throws at clutch times and was able to extend drives so the offense could move the chains. B
It was a magnificent night for this group, as the Huskies rode the 170 yards on 27 carries for 3 TD’s performance by their senior star Myles Gaskin. He was simply spectacular on the night. Sophomore running back Salvon Ahmed pitched in with a 9 carries for 87 yard performance as well, and came up with key 3rd down conversions late in the game. The Huskies running attack was able to control the pace of the game and keep the Cougars offense off the field. A+
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
What was much-anticipated all season long was the return of sophomore tight end Hunter Bryant at the end of the season. He had a huge impact on the game finishing with 3 catches for 108 yards and 1TD. What goes unnoticed is the blocking by this group, especially the seal block by sophomore tight end Jacob Kizer to free up Gaskin for the late “nail in the coffin” TD which was huge! Junior wide receiver Andre Baccellia was magnificent in the screen game as well all night. B+
This group was a huge reason the Huskies had their way with the Cougars. They paved the way for the Husky ground game to amass 285 total yards, and create some nice holes for Gaskin to glide through all game long. Senior LT Trey Adams was thrust into the game when Jared Hilbers went down to injury and played well. The offensive line only allowed one sack the entire night and kept Browning upright, which gave him time to go through his progressions. A
Every year when the Huskies face the Cougars, the formula is to rush three down linemen. This group did a great of holding their leverage and their gaps all night long, which allowed them to push the pocket. By staying solid up front, it allowed defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake to drop eight into coverage which is the “kryptonite” to the Cougars offense. Senior DL Greg Gaines had a valuable sack on Washington State QB Gardner Minshew and sophomore DL Levi Onwuzurike played sound as well. A-
It was clear that the game plan was to keep everything in front and not get beat deep, which meant clean up duty for the linebackers. Senior ILB Ben Burr-Kirven made a huge impact on the game with coming up with 2 turnovers (1 pick, 1 fumble). One promising spot for the Huskies is the rapid development of redshirt freshman Joe Tryon off the edge, as he was productive during the game. The return of junior ILB DJ Beavers was welcomed and junior ILB Brandon Wellington was solid with 8 tackles. Sound performance for this group. A-
On a night when the conditions were challenging, the secondary did their job and didn’t give up any explosive plays. The interception at the end of the first half by sophomore CB Byron Murphy was absolutely huge and thwarted any Cougar momentum heading into halftime. Senior CB Jordan Miller showed his senior leadership all night and tackled well. This group was able to make one-on-one tackles out in space all night, which was a major key in stalling the Cougar offense. A
This group was the only area of the night that was questionable. The special teams unit gave up a 47-yard kickoff return right after a TD score, which is a lack of focus. A momentum shifting play in the game was the blocked extra point attempt that was returned by the Cougars for 98-yards, resulting in 2 points. Often times in big games, those two points can come back to haunt you. One bright spot was the ability of Aaron Fuller to catch every ball punted to him in those tough weather conditions. C
You have to hand it to head coach Chris Petersen and his coaching staff for having the Huskies ready to play. The Cougars came into this game being favored and all the hype was on them. The game plan was sound once again against the Cougars and the players executed it to a “T”. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake was masterful in shutting down the Cougars “Air Raid” offense, and offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan called an intelligent game by riding Gaskin to the promise land. Coach Pete continues his dominance over Washington State head coach Mike Leach and own’s him in every way, shape and form! More importantly, was the ability of the Husky coaches to tap into that emotional edge of the players, that had been missing most of the season. Bringing in former Husky Football players to talk to the team throughout the week about the importance of the Apple Cup was brilliant! It shows just how masterful this coaching staff is and it goes without saying. The coaches kept the team focused on the fact that their season still had so much for them to accomplish, and that truly is the Coach Petersen way! A+
Give the Husky Football team a ton of credit, they came out of the bye week with a rejuvenation and renewed goals for the rest of the season. While many were hoping for the bye week to come earlier in the season, it actually came at the right time for the Huskies. It allowed them to get healthy both mentally and physically for the biggest game of the season against Washington State. The Husky players had heard all year-long about how good the Cougars were this season but they didn’t believe or buy-in to the hype. They came out and took care of business in a hostile environment on the road with everything on the line. The return of their injured players seemed to come at the right time and made a huge impact in this game. Kudos to the team for getting it done and realizing that their season can still end with an incredible finish, and be viewed as an amazing season still. Look for this team to handle their business from here on out! A