Washington football lost to Oregon… again. There were some positives, there were some negatives. This is the first of a two-part series
This has been the most disappointing season for Washington football in a long time. With the incoming star power in Jacob Eason, the rising talent on defense, and the best recruiting class in school history coming in, expectations were sky-high for this team, and quite simply, sitting at 5-3 while being 2-3 in Pac-12 play is unacceptable.
There have been some major personnel issues this season, namely at wide receiver and linebacker. Andre Baccelia had another key third-down drop that led to a Husky punt on a drive early in the fourth quarter that could have milked the clock and turned into points for the Huskies, and while the next Oregon drive didn’t directly result in any points, it’s still a key play.
Kyler Manu gets caught out of position multiple times a game, and the big one in this game came on Justin Herbert‘s first touchdown pass. Manu has a downhill mentality where he wants to blow up every run play, and freezing him on a play-action led to Herbert throwing the ball right over his head for a touchdown. Sure Asa Turner could have collapsed down on that play to help, but that’s a learning experience for a true freshman, for a fifth-year senior, it’s a mistake.
Recruiting misses from four and five years ago are coming back to haunt the Huskies at both positions, and those mistakes are ruining the most talented Washington team Chris Petersen has had so far.
And don’t forget the fact that Marquis Spiker saw maybe three snaps, including his first career catch, which should not have taken this long. Austin Osborne still can’t get on the field for some mysterious reason despite being second on the depth chart, and the fact that it took this long for Puka Nacua to see the field regularly. Terrell Bynum, a third-year sophomore is getting his first real opportunity to play consistently as well, we saw what happened when the latter two got consistent snaps and targets.
STOP RUNNING THE WILDCAT. When I, a former college baseball player who never played an organized down of tackle football in his life can tell that you’re running the same play out of the wildcat every time, what are opposing defensive coordinators thinking? The wildcat formation is fun and all that, but all it’s doing this year is taking the team’s best weapon, Jacob Eason, out of the picture for the entire play.
It’s one thing to run it in short-yardage scenarios maybe once a game, but it’s a whole different animal to do it on practically every third and short in a big game when you have a top-five talent in the country at quarterback.
The Dawgs were up by 14 at two different points in the Oregon game, and had ample opportunities to put the game away but didn’t do it. Why? Because when they get up by a big margin, they consistently take their foot off the gas. In the world of college football, when you’re consistently getting disrespected because you play on the west coast, it’s ok to run the score up on teams, especially on your biggest rival who’s ranked 13 spots ahead of you in the AP Poll. You should never take your foot off the gas in these types of games.
Onto the defense, it’s very concerning that Oregon kept running the same slip screen to the left, and there were no adjustments made to it all game. Two of their five touchdowns came on that same play, including the score on fourth and three to end the third quarter which pulled the Ducks to within three.
The Huskies have world-class talent on the team, and some elite coaches, but they have to change their mindset. They have to act like the alpha dogs, and when they were pounding the rock with Salvon Ahmed, it showed that they know how to do it, but it needs to be consistent. We saw what the Huskies look like when they play like alphas in the second half against Arizona, which makes this loss even more frustrating.
All the pieces are there for the Huskies to win a national championship, but they haven’t been put together yet. The coaches need to take the rest of this season and use it as building blocks with the young players that they have and get ready for a 2020 national championship push, which is absolutely possible.
Stay tuned for the second part of this article, which will be dedicated towards positive takeaways from the Oregon game, which there are (shockingly) plenty of.