Overall: The script was certainly flipped from last week in Hawaii when the Husky offense struggled and the defense won the game. Yesterday the defense was anemic and thankfully the Cyler Miles-led offense was able to put 59 points on the board and win the game. Overall I was impressed with the Husky offense, particularly Cyler’s command of the huddle and his poise at the line of scrimmage. It was encouraging to see the Husky offensive line dominate the line of scrimmage and establish the running game with running backs Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington. Defensively the game was a complete disaster. Although the Dawgs sacked Vernon Adams Jr. six times, the pass rush was relatively inconsistent throughout the game. The linebackers and secondary were exposed time and time again by the Eagle’s potent passing attack. Even more discouraging then the overall poor performance was the abundance of ill-timed penalties. The Husky defense committed three personal fouls that extended the Eagle’s drives and ultimately resulted in three touchdowns. At the end of the day a win is a win as cliché as it sounds; however, the Huskies have a lot to clean up before they enter conference play.
Cyler Miles took a good first step yesterday in cementing himself as the quarterback of the future for the Washington Huskies. He completed a respectable 58% of his passes for 180 yards and a touchdown while avoiding any turnovers. That’s a decent stat line for his first game of the season; however, even more impressive was his overall command of the offense. The Huskies attack seemed more organized and efficient under the leadership of Miles. With that being said, he can certainly work on his passing consistency. It would be nice to get his completion percentage up in the sixties, as well as creating more explosive plays throwing the ball down the field.
The Huskies leaned heavily on their running backs by calling a run play 70% of the time. Never underestimate the importance of establishing ground and pound football early in the season. Developing a good running game early on will certainly pay huge dividends later in the season. The Huskies rushing attack was once again led by Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington. Coleman was particularly impressive earning 6.9 yards per carry and a touchdown. The running game was also boosted by quarterback Cyler Miles who ran for three touchdowns. Also, Shaq Thompson made his running back debut short and sweet taking his third carry to the house from 57 yards out. Granted Eastern Washington doesn’t have a strong run defense, the Huskies still showed promise and depth at the running back position.
Offensive Line. The MVP of this game is the Huskies offensive line. They opened up holes allowing their running backs to rush for 361 yards on the day. Establishing the running game helped the Dawgs control the clock and time of possession; two extremely important factors in close ball games. On top of that, the offensive lineman kept Cyler Miles upright the entire game not allowing a single sack. The big boys up front set the tone early on and were ultimately the difference-makers of the game.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends.
The receiving game was once again bolstered by the electrifying John Ross III. Ross III took a simple bubble screen 55-yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Kasen Williams also took another step in returning from his broken leg last season with more consistent play both receiving and blocking. Williams also had an impressive one handed catch in the end-zone to convert a critical two-point conversion. Junior WR, Jaydon Mickens returned to his usual self after a lack-luster performance last week in Hawaii. Also, Darrell Daniels showed flashes of the threat he can be from the tight end position.
Defensive Line. The defensive line came into this game with two things on their mind: containing and rushing Eastern’s prolific passer, Vernon Adams Jr. The defensive lineman struggled in the first half allowing Adams to use his legs to create explosive plays down the field. However, the second half effort was spearheaded by seniors Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha. Shelton has quickly grabbed the attention of the country with his 24 tackles and 6 sacks through the first two games. Overall, the line played well, but they need to work harder to provide a more consistent pass rush.
Linebackers. Shaq Thompson was the lone bright spot in the starting linebacker unit; he swarmed to the ball all day making a game-high 14 tackles. Outside of Thompson, the Husky linebackers struggled to tackle and cover consistently. Freshman Keishawn Bierria committed a personal foul on a critical third down that eventually led to Eastern’s first TD of the game while swinging momentum in the Eagle’s direction. However, the starting linebackers (Shaq, John Timu, and Travis Feeney) came up with a big turnover that secured the win for the Dawgs. Those three linebackers need to be more consistent and create more game-changing plays moving forward.
Secondary. Where to start? Yesterday was one of the worst defensive performances I can remember as a Husky fan. The young Husky secondary was exploited for 475 yards and 7 touchdowns by the Eagle’s veteran quarterback, Vernon Adams Jr. Youth and inexperience are no excuse for a performance of that nature; with that being said, Adams and the Eagle’s offense was pr0lific and deserve credit for their stellar performance. It was also disappointing to see Marcus Peters act the way he did. Peters consistently took his frustration out on his fellow teammates by yelling and cursing at the younger players. He then committed an idiotic personal foul penalty on third down that resulted in an Eastern Washington touchdown to take the lead. Coach Pete rightfully sat Peters on the bench for the remainder of the game; that kind of brainless and selfish attitude is not acceptable on the football field. Peters needs to make amends with his teammates and work hard on becoming a better player and leader in the Husky secondary.
Korey Durkee was impressive once again in his second game as the Huskies punter. With the help of special teams demon, Budda Baker, he was able to pin the Eagles on their own 2-yard line. Durkee has shown power, accuracy, and touch throughout the first two games.
Cameron Van Winkle hit his only field goal attempt of the game from 37 yards out. He also shanked a PAT which is unacceptable in any game, nonetheless a close one. Luckily the Huskies converted a two-point conversion later in the game to make up for Van Winkle’s mistake. Freshman kicker Tristan Vizcaino had a busy day on kick-offs and handled his duties well.
Overall, the returners (John Ross III, Jaydon Mickens, Deontae Cooper, and Dante Pettis) performed well. I’m sure Husky Nation expected a little more explosion with the quantity of kickoffs; however, the kick return game was consistent and effective.