Another week, another huge halftime deficit for Washington football. They couldn’t quite overcome this one, losing 31-26 to Stanford
Going into the locker room down 21-3 isn’t ideal for anyone, but a second straight first half giving up 21 points definitely isn’t ideal for Washington football. And unlike their game against Utah, the coaching staff didn’t show the same ability to make adjustments at halftime. Stanford continued to pound the ball in jumbo sets, and the defense didn’t make the necessary adjustments personnel-wise to stop it. For example, on fourth and one at the very end of the game, instead of crowding the line, they stuck with their base nickel look with two high safeties.
Teams are also starting to catch on to the offense’s insistence on establishing the run, which showed on Saturday. The Huskies were held to just 3.4 yards per carry, and continuously forced them into third and long scenarios because of unsuccessful early-down runs. Offensive coordinator John Donovan doesn’t seem to give Dylan Morris the ability to check out of stacked boxes, so defenses have a very good idea of what’s coming.
All of this hinders the passing attack when they’re forced into obvious passing downs and defenses are able to drop as many people as they want into coverage. Another hindrance, starting receivers Puka Nacua and Terrell Bynum both didn’t suit up on Saturday for undisclosed reasons. That led to the Huskies having to rely mainly on true freshmen Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze alongside senior Ty Jones. Odunze impressed with a team-high five catches for 69 yards, and McMillan left with what appeared to be an ankle injury after getting rolled up on by a defender.
A few other shockers that need to be resolved, Cade Otton was left in to block for a good majority of the game. No matter how good a blocker he is, he deserves more than three or four targets per game, because he’s proven to be their best mismatch in the receiving game. The other, three-time Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week Zion Tupuola-Fetui didn’t show up in the stat sheet. He had a few pressures, but didn’t record a tackle on the day. He spent way too much time in coverage, and couldn’t pin his ears back as a pass rusher like he has in previous weeks.
Star linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio, who recorded 18 tackles on Saturday wasn’t pleased with his team after the game. With a rivalry game against Oregon next up and a trip to the Pac-12 Championship on the line, the Huskies can’t afford to come out flat for the third game in a row.
Jimmy Lake has proven that he knows how to motivate a team. The second half of both the Utah and Stanford game should prove that, the question is, why wait? Lake will surely have his team motivated for their first road game of the season. While there isn’t a playoff berth in Washington’s future, a win over the Ducks will be a great building block for the 2021 season.