Washington football made their biggest comeback in almost 30 years, and escaped the Utah Utes with a 24-21 victory
Things looked bleak for Washington football going into halftime. Dylan Morris had just thrown his second interception, and his team was down 21-0. But head coach Jimmy Lake has instilled a new attitude in this team. Morris and co. came out of the locker room firing, and showed a new kind of energy on Montlake. The Death Row Defense attitude that is quickly becoming Lake’s signature.
And who better to showcase that attitude than the best defensive player right now in all of college football than Zion Tupuola-Fetui? The redshirt sophomore recorded three more sacks, bringing his season total to seven, and recorded a fumble forced by Kyler Gordon. ZTF wreaking havoc in the backfield has become a constant, and what’s even better is he’s found a consistent running mate on the edge.
With Ryan Bowman out, true freshman Sav’ell Smalls saw a huge increase in snaps, and he was causing problems for the offensive line. He was consistently getting double-teamed, and creating opportunities for his teammates to get to the quarterback. And while he wasn’t credited with his first career sack, he was in there on Jake Bentley when ZTF recorded his third of the night. Not to mention, both of these guys will also be getting more help from Tuli Letuligasenoa who returned from an undisclosed injury.
The secondary was as fierce as ever, with Elijah Molden and Trent McDuffie both capitalizing on some errant throws from Bentley for their first interceptions of the season. In fact, the late game heave that McDuffie picked off was the only time he was targeted all day long.
On the offensive side, there were some troubles. Namely, the run game that had been so effective through the first two weeks. The Huskies ran the ball 26 times for a total of 88 yards. Curiously enough, we didn’t see Richard Newton on the field either, even though he was dressed and looked like he was available to play. What’s even more curious was the unwillingness by offensive coordinator John Donovan to throw the ball in second and long scenarios, even though those plays were very effective when called.
On a positive note, Cade Otton showed last night why he’s the best all-around tight end in the country. For the second straight week, he went over 100 yards, and he came down with two touchdowns including the game-winner. With his performance, it’s looking more and more likely that Otton will enter his name into the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s a strong case to be made for Otton as the best tight end in the country.
What to watch for
Going forward, Husky fans might have to start tuning into the College Football Playoff rankings reveal again! After the AP Poll ranked Washington at 23rd in the country, there’s a chance they sneak into the back end of Tuesday’s rankings. While a playoff berth doesn’t seem likely at this point for any Pac-12 team, gaining momentum and respect from the national media will go a long way next season.
Could this week’s game be in jeopardy? With COVID-19 cases rising faster than ever around the country, Santa Clara County (where Stanford is located) has put in place new restrictions to try and slow the spread of the virus. These restrictions include a three-week shutdown of pro and college contact sports, which obviously affects the Cardinal schedule. David Shaw’s team will have to figure out a way to safely practice and travel for the game. If these restrictions make it too tough for Stanford to play, could athletic director Jen Cohen try to get BYU on the phone again? Just like the week leading up to this matchup, the Huskies will have to be prepared for anything.
Trent McDuffie is having a spectacular season. While there have been no official stats, you can probably count on one hand the number of times he’s been targeted in coverage this season. With both Molden and Keith Taylor leaving for the NFL Draft this season, Lake’s secondary looks to be in good hands for the near future.
On the recruiting front, in-state five-star recruits Emeka Egbuka and J.T. Tuimoloau are still uncommitted. With the offense looking more friendly for receivers, and the defensive line making a big impact, could this help Washington’s standing with both players?
Between that, the education, and the culture Lake is building, why would they want to leave?