The logistics of traveling this morning mean I’m kind of having to rush to get some of the usual day-after game stuff on here.
Fortunately in that regard, not a lot of analysis is needed of Arizona’s 44-14 win over the Huskies Saturday night.
UW pretty much got beaten up on both sides of the ball, and knocked around elsewhere, in falling to 3-4 for the season in what might have been the most disappointing performance of the season, given everything (notably, coming off the OSU win and playing against a team with a backup QB).
Players said what you’d expect afterward — there are lot of games left, they’ll move on quickly, and it was just their own mistakes that killed them.
But if UW doesn’t reach its pre-season goal of a post-season bowl, this might be the game you really look back on as a missed opportunity to make up for some of the earlier losses (BYU, ASU) that already had Washington in a somewhat precarious position.
It’ll take what would be viewed as a pretty significant upset — beating either Stanford or Oregon — to avoid falling to 3-6 and needing to run the table of the last three games just to get to 6-6.
In this season and in this Pac-10, you rule nothing out. But what a difference a game in the standings makes right now.
On to the grades:
QUARTERBACK: Jake Locker’s rib issue compounds some earlier aches and pains to make him not quite the QB he was against USC — and there’s no rest for the weary right now with no bye on the schedule until after Oregon. UW coach Steve Sarkisian said afterward that Locker’s health impacted everything about the way he played. Locker denied that, but was probably just being the good soldier — he had just two runs that weren’t sacks. His passing numbers weren’t great, and for the second week he had a costly fumble. He also had no time to throw and obviously wasn’t 100 percent physically. GRADE: C.
RUNNING BACK: This was one of the few positions that seemed to come to play — Chris Polk and Jesse Callier were a combined 22-101, making you wonder again if UW didn’t get away from the run just a little too early. On what felt like kind of a key early drive, UW got to the Arizona 37, down just 10-7, mostly on the legs of Polk and Callier, then threw three straight incomplete passes and were forced to punt. Arizona quickly scored to open up a 10-point lead, and UW never had the ball again where it wasn’t down by more than a possession. Polk had two catches and Callier also ran it for a couple of decent gains out of the Wildcat. GRADE: A-minus.
RECEIVER: The Huskies were essentially without what were two of their three leading receivers heading into the season — Devin Aguilar (who saw a little bit of action) and James Johnson (left home due to illness). Still, UW got some production here when there was time, as D’Andre Goodwin continued his resurgance with five catches while Jermaine Kearse had four. And Cody Bruns had a nice catch late in the half to momentarily give the Huskies some life. There didn’t seem to be the issue with drops of some earlier weeks. GRADE: B.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Here’s where the real problems were on offense as the Huskies had trouble stopping Arizona’s penetration. Locker was sacked a season-high four times and scrambled away from a few others. And while I did above point to one time when maybe you could wonder if they should have stayed more committed to the run, the line wasn’t necessarily just plowing holes everywhere. GRADE: D-minus.
DEFENSIVE LINE: And here’s where the problems persist. UW’s line didn’t get much pressure on Matt Scott and didn’t control the line enough to contain the run. UW was without Talia Crichton for the entire game and Cameron Elisara for most of it. But this felt like pretty team-wide domination up front. GRADE: F.
LINEBACKERS: This area was thrown into a little bit of flux with the late knee injury to Victor Aiyewa that forced Princeton Fuimaono to get his first start. He got off to a nice, forcing a fumble on the first series. And this area was again about the only one on defense to make many plays. Mason Foster was also credited with the blocked PAT and had a sack, as did Aiyewa once he re-entered the game. But nobody grades out well when a team is dominated like that. GRADE: C.
SECONDARY: Scott had lots of time, but also usually had pretty open receivers, as well. UW had benefitted a little bit from either dropped passes or off-target throws by QBs at key times in some earlier games, but didn’t get that against Arizona, which did everything right. Still, the struggles in this unit may have been best illustrated by the three pass interference penalties. I know fans are calling for some changes in this area, but reality is everybody has been tried to some extent this year. GRADE: F.
SPECIAL TEAMS: This area didn’t play a real huge role in the game. UW was just about even on the returns, didn’t try a FG, blocked the one PAT, and didn’t try any FGs. Kiel Rasp again had a good game, pinning UA deep on a punt in the first half, though that just led to a long UA scoring drive. GRADE: B.
COACHING: The hard question, obviously, is how much of defeats like this are because of the existing talent on hand — are the Huskies still just that far away in the rebuilding process? Or should the coaches be doing a better job with the talent they have? The answer is surely some of both. You can’t really argue that the team wasn’t ready to play as UW forced a fumble, then went down and scored in the first two series — for a few brief minutes it actually looked like the Huskies were in control. UA coach Mike Stoops later cited UW’s “very unorthodox plays” as causing a lot of problems for his team in preparation — the second week a coach has referred the variety of what the Huskies do, evidence the coaches are trying a lot of things to maximize what they have. But something was missing Saturday night. What’s frustrating for fans is that the wins against USC and Oregon State seem to show that the talent is there to a certain level to be competitive, making it head scratching when they get blown out like Saturday night (or controlled throughout by a team like Arizona State, a loss that looks a lot worse after yesterday). Sadly, the Arizona loss seemed to indicate the hoped-for quick turnaround may take a little longer than hoped. GRADE: D.