What an underwhelming debut for the Chris Petersen era of Washington Football. The offense lacked consistency, creativity, and explosiveness throughout the entire game, while the defense performed with a “bend but don’t break” mentality. Considering the fact that Hawaii outperformed the Huskies in nearly every meaningful stat, the Dawgs are very fortunate to be flying home with a victory. Going into this game I, along with Husky Nation, were looking for answers; however, we were left scratching our heads once again. Here are five questions I had entering the game that still remain unanswered entering week two versus Easter Washington.
Question #1: Who is the Husky Quarterback of the future? Jeff Lindquist entered Saturday’s game with momentum coming off of a strong fall camp and being rewarded with the starting job. This was Lindquist’s opportunity to seize the starting spot for the season and he did not take advantage of it. Lindquist started off hot showing why Coach Pete gave him the reigns of the offense for week one. He made some nice throws early on, and completed a 91-yard touchdown pass to speedster John Ross III going into halftime. I don’t know what happened during halftime, but Lindquist was a completely different player in the second half. After two quarters marred by three-and-outs it is clear that the door remains wide open for sophomore quarterback, Cyler Miles. Expect Miles to get a good amount of playing time next week against Eastern Washington. It appears that the starting job has certainly come down to Lindquist and Miles, and look for the top performer next week to run away with the job.
Question #2: Who is the Husky Running Back of the future? Coming into week one against Hawaii a core of four Husky running backs emerged: Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman, Deontae Cooper, and Jesse Callier. After analyzing their performances on Saturday, it is clear that Washington and Coleman have separated themselves as the top two backs. Both played a very average game running for 3.2 and 4.6 yards per carry respectively. In my opinion, Coleman looked the best running the ball; however, he had a critical fumble that was luckily recovered by Lindquist. Expect both Washington and Coleman to carry the load once again next week against Eastern Washington.
Question #3: How did electric athletes, John Ross III and Jaydon Mickens disappear in the second half? Jaydon Mickens had a very disappointing season opener as he had nearly no impact on the game whatsoever. Mickens dropped a crucial third down pass which would have extended the drive early in the first quarter. I expected more out of the veteran receiver against a defense that was extremely vulnerable last season. I don’t want to rag on John Ross III too much as he did provide the Huskies only two touchdowns on the day, and in remarkable fashion might I add. However, Ross failed to make an impact outside of those two plays. Coach Pete needs to re-evaluate his game plan and find more ways to get the ball to Ross and Mickens in open space. Look for more swing routes, bubble screens, and jet sweeps against Eastern Washington. Also, hopefully a healthier Kasen Williams will provide a sure-handed, possession type receiver and add a comfort zone for the young quarterbacks.
Question #4: How will the defense perform with a veteran front seven and an inexperienced secondary? Much like that of the offense, I found the defensive performance to be disappointing. I understand that holding a team to 16 points is a pretty solid game by any defense against today’s fast-paced, pass-happy offenses. As mentioned above, the Husky defense really brought life to the saying, “bend but don’t break.” The defensive front seven were bullied around all day by the Warrior’s offensive line and running back, Joey Iosefa. It was also discouraging to see our defensive secondary play so conservatively. It seemed as if Hawaii converted on every third-and-long situation by beating our cornerbacks on deep comeback routes. If the Huskies want to compete in the PAC-12 they have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball as well.
Question #5: How will Washington’s Special Teams perform under the pressure of a real game? Perhaps the unsung hero of the game was punter, Korey Durkee. Coming into the game there were many questions surrounding the Huskies kicking game. Durkee punted eight times averaging a respectable 42.5 yards per punt. Durkee sure answered the call in a game that ultimately came down to time management and field position. Kicker, Cameron Van Winkle attempted and converted his only field goal from 36 yards. Also, freshman kicker, Tristan Viscaino performed admirably on kickoffs. Washington’s return game was dormant, but their kickoff and punt coverage was solid outside of the opening kick.