Learning from losses
In the team’s first loss, a surprise 14-7 loss to Arizona State University, the offense never gathered its wits. And in the defensive contest that ensued, the Sun Devils took full advantage of the desert heat and home field advantage to walk away with a win. The game was particularly frustrating after the fact when the box stats revealed that the team abandoned a very productive running game needlessly. C’est la vie
In the second loss, the Stanford Cardinals rode the back of running back Bryce Love, and a season high performance from JJ Arcega-Whiteside, to derail the Huskies 30-22. The third and final loss, the Fiesta Bowl, the team had no an answer for Penn State’s combination of running back Sasquan Barkley paired up quarterback Trace McSorley‘s passing to DaeSean Hamilton.
Time of Possession
Water under the bridge. But the lessons remain, whether the team reacts or not. In the three losses, the team seemed reluctant, almost to a fault, to lean heavily into the running game. In each loss, the featured running back for the Huskies, Myles Gaskin, averaged better than 4.8 yards per carry. But his carries averaged no better than 15.6 per game. In stark contrast, the opponent running back averaged 19 carries.
An effective running game allows two things: it moves the chains and wears down the defense. And it provides ample rest to the defense as well. Time of possession is important in the course of each game stretched over a season. But with so many injuries, that critical distribution of time on the field can mean the difference between a win or a loss.