The season is nearing an end for Washington football, and for fans who were expecting a huge season coming off a Rose Bowl birth… well…
This year was supposed to be a turning point for a Washington football program that was coming off three straight New Year’s Six bowl births, including an appearance in the College Football Playoff after the 2016 season. The recruiting over the last three years (including the incoming class of 2020) has been outstanding, but we’ve seen a reluctance to play the young talent, which may have even been part of the reason one of the talented, young wide receivers in Trey Lowe decided to transfer.
Last night, the Huskies fell to 6-5 at the hands of the non-bowl eligible Colorado Buffaloes, and it marked a low point in what is a very fixable problem, the question is, what will be done about it? The offense couldn’t seem to figure out a pass rush that had been pretty stagnant up until last night, and the Buffaloes got to Jacob Eason five times and allowed just 32 total yards rushing.
The Husky defense wasn’t great, after pitching a shutout against Oregon State, but same as the offense, there are adjustments that need to be made, especially at middle linebacker. Even though the Buffaloes were able to run for 200 yards, that wasn’t the adjustment that needed to be made the most.
Freshman Trent McDuffie has been outstanding during his first season on campus, but last night he was simply overmatched by a potential first-round pick in Laviska Shenault. And the veteran took advantage of his matchup against a true freshman, instead of simply playing man coverage and having star cornerback Keith Taylor, who seems to get targeted maybe twice a game, follow him around the field.
The Huskies are going to have a bigger influx of talent coming into the 2020 class than they did in 2019, and the Huskies need to make adjustments, to their super complex offense more than anything, to make sure they can properly utilize the services of Jalen McMillan, Mark Redman, Sam Adams, Rome Odunze, and the rest of the elite talent they’ve been able to secure properly.
Now, is this saying that all those freshmen need to start immediately? Absolutely not, which is no knock to them, because there’s a physical and mental learning curve that even a player like Sav’ell Smalls will run into. But look at what happened when Puka Nacua finally got regular snaps before an unfortunate injury in practice.
The talent influx at positions of need, especially wide receiver is too much to ignore. Chris Petersen and the coaching staff need to find a way to simplify offensively so it doesn’t take two/three years to learn how to properly fit into the offense.
Even Jacob Eason looks confused at times and doesn’t know what to do with the ball, and when the offense seems to be needlessly complex, even Tom Brady would have a tough time figuring out what his reads are supposed to be. Part of the issue revolves around the play calling, and taking your biggest weapon out of the game on third and short (looking at you Wildcat formation), and calling screens and quick routes with a group of receivers that have a tough time breaking tackles and getting separation from defensive backs, but when those are the only options that Bush Hamdan has, Eason is going to struggle.
The fixes that the coaching staff can make are simple, but the thing is, Petersen said after the Rose Bowl that they needed to simplify things, and it doesn’t look like that’s happened this year. He’s stated that it’s never any one thing after multiple losses this season, yet things still look the same, and while I want to trust the staff that they can make those changes this offseason, after five losses that all easily could’ve been wins, seeing is believing.