Washington football: Negatives and Positives in win over Michigan State

Michigan State's Malik Spencer, left, and Cal Haladay, right, tackle Washington's Jack Westover during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Malik Spencer, left, and Cal Haladay, right, tackle Washington's Jack Westover during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. /

Washington football finished non-conference play unbeaten, taking down Michigan State 41-7 on Saturday. In a very professional performance from the Huskies, what were the positives and negatives in the win?

Washington football positives

Jack Westover

It would be amiss of me not to have tight end Jack Westover as a positive. With all the talk about the Husky wide receiver room, it’s easy to forget about the tight end room being a strength.

The Sixth-year senior had three touchdowns in the first half of the convincing win over Michigan State. Westover is a reliable target, especially in the red zone. All three of his TDs came inside the 20 yard line, one of them a smooth wheel route not picked up by the defense. Westover totaled four catches for 37 yards, with the only reception that didn’t result in a touchdown a nice designed play.

Grubb utilized Westover in a few different ways, showing he is a key component on the offense. He may have quieter weeks like we saw against Tulsa, which is a given with the talent on show for Washington. However, this is a game Jack Westover won’t forget.

Defensive Line

Over the first two weeks we have heard coaches talk about the defensive line getting into the backfield. Whether it was Kalen DeBoer (Head coach), William Inge (Co-defensive coordinator) or Inoke Breckterfield (defensive line coach), they all said the same. Guys were putting pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, they just needed to record some sacks.

Well, a couple of sacks came this weekend, both from Zion Tupuola-Fetui. There was a ton of pressure on Spartans QB Noah Kim on top of that. It has been one of few negatives for the Husky team, so it was good to see the defensive lines efforts rewarded.

On top of that, the line was excellent against the run. Before we saw all the starters exit in the fourth quarter, the defense held Nathan Carter to under 30 rushing yards. A number of times the defensive line broke through and stopped Carter in the backfield. This put MSU in second/third and long situations.

Going into conference play, it relieved a few concerns. Washington now needs to continue the progress, especially stopping the run, with many pac-12 teams on the schedule having strong running games.

Dillon Johnson/Tybo Rodgers

I had to double up on the running backs as Rogers came in late and flashed that potential coaches have been talking about.

Rogers notched a quick 15 carries in the fourth quarter for 74 yards. On top of that, Newton had four carries for 29 yards. The offensive line created the running lanes but it was great to see the running backs create those extra yards.

Freshman Rogers showed great burst through gaps and looked like an exciting runner in the small sample size we saw.

Dillon Johnson was the starting RB, looking like he had shaken off any niggles that were lingering through the first two weeks. Johnson had eight carries for 71 yards, ripping off an impressive 45 yard run on one carry.

The running game before the fourth quarter consisted of just nine carries, but was effective. Grubb continued to lean heavily on passing the ball when Penix Jr was on the field.

The Washington run game has been one of few negatives through the first two weeks. However, it’s good to see when it’s used, it’s effective.

Washington football negatives 


This is a little tongue in cheek as a handful of penalties against the Huskies seemed very dubious decisions from the officials.

A couple of holding penalties against tackle Troy Fautanu were bad calls. The left tackle was clean at the position with both holding calls looking like he pancaked the edge rusher.

Elijah Jackson, who has had a few penalties go against him in the first two games, had a PI called on him. Again, it looked like a very soft call from the officials.

More. Huskies offense slices through the Spartans in 41-7 win. light

On the whole, it was a very solid performance from Washington, in their last non-conference game. Very few negatives and those were just areas that were not glaring and can be cleaned up.