Here’s a quick review of Washington’s play against Portland State by position after the Huskies got the feel-good win they wanted (that’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins and DiAndre Campbell celebrating Campbell’s early TD in a Bettina Hansen photo):
QUARTERBACK: Just going off the stats, this was one of the best performances of Keith Price’s career as he was 14-19 for 181 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 205.8. That’s the third-best of his career, topped only by last year’s Hawaii (222.6) and Cal (213.7) games. He did take a sack, and was hit hard one another time on a scramble, but otherwise appeared mostly untouched. Derrick Brown played the last five series and wasn’t asked to do much, going 2-5 for 23 yards with a tipped interception. He’s still listed as an either/or at backup with Cyler Miles, and barring an injury to Price I would assume they will try to redshirt Miles.
RUNNING BACK: Everything today has to be considered within the context of an overmatched opponent, which makes it difficult to get too enthused about a lot of things. Still, the running game had been such a struggle the first two weeks that the first 100-yard game of the season — and of Bishop Sankey’s career (14-103) is cause for some celebration. Erich Wilson II (77 yards) and Dezden Petty (54) also got a lot of work, which is much-needed as the team now heads into Pac-12 play. Willis Wilson (presumed injured) didn’t play, leaving Sankey, E. Wilson and Petty as the only real ball carries for the Huskies.
RECEIVERS: Kevin Smith was out (presumably with the knee injury of last week) and the Huskies went with a little different look, giving more time to DiAndre Campbell and less to Kendyl Taylor. Campbell responded with the first TD of his career. Kasen Williams had six catches, and surely would have had more had the game not gotten out of hand early, and Marvin Hall got his first career action and looked good returning punts and kickoffs and had a 16-yard reception. Figure Hall to get more work going forward.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Injuries to Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa — each knees of unspecified severity — meant another new-look offensive line. UW went with Micah Hatchie at left tackle, Dexter Charles at left guard, Drew Schaefer at center, James Atoe at right guard and Mike Criste at right tackle. It was the first career starts for Charles, a redshirt freshman, and Criste, a redshirt sophomore.True freshman Shane Brostek also entered the game early in his first career action. Sarkisian said of the line that “I thought we did some really good stuff.” But he also reiterated a past concern that the Huskies have to “get our pad level down.” And the group helped UW rush for 209 total yards, the second-highest total since the 2010 season (the only one better last year was 295 against Colorado). Truer tests come quickly. But at least UW made it through without any injuries and learning more about some of the young guys.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The absence of Talia Crichton (concussion against LSU) meant for a new look up front with Semisi Tokolahi joining Danny Shelton inside and Andrew Hudson shifting outside more (though still lots of rotating around of those guys). Again, the opponent makes it hard to read, but UW pitched a shutout in the first half and while there were a few decent runs for PSU, not much of any consistency. UW had no sacks, but PSU’s Pistol offense means the QBs get rid of the ball quickly. Shelton left with an apparent foot injury but it didn’t look or sound serious. Lawrence Lagafuiana came on late to finish with three tackles and true frosh Pio Vatuvei also got lots of time and had three tackles.
LINEBACKER: With Travis Feeney out (shoulder from last week), Princeton Fuimaono moved back into the lineup alongside John Timu in the middle, and Shaq Thompson at nickelback. Fuimaono had one of the biggest plays of the game early on with the tackle on the fourth down pass that resulted in a five-yard loss when the game was still 14-0 in the first quarter. Thomas Tutogi also saw lots of time and finished tied with Timu with six tackles. Thompson finished with a team-high seven and also a team-high two for a loss.
SECONDARY: Portland State had some open receivers at times, and obviously hit the 70-yarder in the third quarter to get on the board (when Marcus Peters got beat). But when the game really mattered early, the Huskies shut down the Vikings (just 68 total passing yards in the first half). No real personnel surprises here though Justin Glenn got the start with Will Shamburger coming off his eye injury (Shamburger played quite a bit, as well). Greg Ducre, who had been nursing a foot injury, also got back on the field. And for those wondering where James Sample has been, he got on the field as well in the late going.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Hard to imagine the last time UW had this big an edge in the special teams battle of a game — maybe a 2001 game against Idaho when I know UW had both a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown. But the Huskies had a huge edge in that category in this game with the fake punt, the blocked field goal for a TD, recovering the on-side kick of the opening kickoff which set the tone for all that followed, and a few good returns.