Well, this will be a fun exercise, won’t it?
Reality, obviously, has hit the Huskies like a Sunday morning hangover. One thing we’ve learned is that the USC win, fun as it was at the time, wasn’t quite as meaningful as hoped at the time, USC just isn’t as good this year as it has been in the past. And that’s relevant in judging this season because if you ask what’s happened since the USC win, you have to keep in perspective that the USC win doesn’t look as good now as it did then.
Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona are looking like the top four teams in the conference. Three beat UW pretty easily and Arizona, if you really look at it objectively, had its way with UW for much of the night before just letting the game get away.
So while UW could be 6-4 right now, and maybe ought to at least be 4-6, what we’re learning is that this team simply still has a long ways to go. UW just doesn’t have the lines it needs, on either side, to really compete with the top teams in the conference, And it doesn’t have quite enough skill players to make up for that weakness. There’s also still a toughness element that seems missing at key times.
Anyway, on to the individual grades:
QUARTERBACK: Jake Locker didn’t have much time or room to do much of anything today. But he also helped lead to the onslaught with a not-great pass that was picked off and led to OSU’s first touchdown at a time when it was obviously still a game. He had nowhere to run, so not really even fair to judge that, probably. Still, another game where I guess I thought he might run more and he never did. He had minus-13 yards for the game and how has 217 for the season on 88 attempts. GRADE: C.
RUNNING BACK: Chris Polk is emerging as the best player on this team and once again, you only wished they could have found a way to get him the ball more. He did have a fumble, his second in two weeks. But he is running hard and well otherwise. No one else did enough of anything to really be able to grade fairly, though Demitrius Bronson did get four carries late and had a long run of nine. GRADE: B-plus.
RECEIVERS: Jermaine Kearse had another nice game (five catches and two touchdowns) but not a great day for anyone else. Devin Aguilar had three catches but also had a big drop early as OSU began to take command. And James Johnson and D’Andre Goodwin each had one catch but only for five and four yards, respectively. Kavario Middleton had a nice 26-yard TD grab late. But he also couldn’t hold on to a third-down grab, admittedly under heavy pressure but the kind of catch you need to make to win a game like this, early on when the contest was still in doubt. GRADE: C.
OFFENSIVE LINE: This was where the game felt lost for the Huskies, as UW just was overwhelmed by the Beavers all day, even when OSU rotated and had all its second-team guys in. UW tried to adjust with Ben Ossai going in for Nick Wood, who was pancacked early. But there wasn’t much the Huskies could do. I won’t give an F simply because it seemed like the trying was there. But as you look at this team long-term, this is where improvement seems most needed. GRADE: D.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Some pretty good play from this group for a while early on as Sean Canfield was sacked three times, all by linemen — Darrion Jones and Everrette Thompson had one each, each forcing a fumble, and Alameda Ta’amu and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim had a half-a-sack each. Nick Holt tried a few things to shake things up, such as the two-down alignment, and it seemed to work a little bit for a while. But the line wore down as the game wore on, as did the entire defense. GRADE: C.
LINEBACKER: Not the greatest day from this unit. Cort Dennison, filling in for E.J. Savannah, missed a couple of tackles at key times, and he’s not the first guy and won’t be the last to struggle to brinig down Jacquizz Rodgers. But the plays seemed glaring today. Mason Foster forced a fumble and had 2.5 tackles for a loss but seemed to get beat in pass coverage more often today than usual. And Donald Butler had a quiet day with six tackles, none for a loss. GRADE: C-minus.
SECONDARY: Felt like the Huskies brought pressure more than usual today, which left the DBs out on an island with regularity, and the Huskies couldn’t respond. UW didn’t have a single pass breakup and and Canfield was 21-29 with one dropped and 3-4 others just simply thrown too high or whatever. Desmond Trufant, in particular, seemed to get picked on today. OSU didn’t put up huge numbers but seemed to do whatever it needed to when it had to. GRADE: D.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The shanked punt that led to a FG in the first quarter when the game was still in doubt, and then the long KO return that sealed the deal to start the second half, are about all you need to know about the effort here. The coaches keep trying to get the return games going with some new guys blocking — today it was Donald Butler as the lead blocker on the KO returns — but nothing seems to really result in anything great as their wasn’t a KO return longer than 21 yards out of nine chances. To his credit, Will Mahan rebounded from the early shank to have a pretty good day otherwise finishing at 39 yards per on seven attempts. GRADE: D.
COACHING: Maybe this is just what the Huskies are right now, 27 points worse than a Pac-10 contender when playing on the road. But the Huskies haven’t really seemed to overachieve in a game since maybe Notre Dame. It’s hard to cite any one particular thing the coaches did wrong in this one, necessarily, since the game was such a rout that no one thing determined anything. But the Huskies have mostly been going backward since the first quarter of the Oregon game (save for a few moments here and there at UCLA) and ultimately it begins and ends with the coaches. No doubt, there’s much to still like about the direction Sark and company have this program going — far too early to lose faith yet as anyone who expected an immediate turnaround to major contention from 0-12 wasn’t being realistic. But this obviously wasn’t a step in the right direction. GRADE: D.