A Stunning Loss for the Huskies
Heartbreak. At half, the Washington Huskies led the Oregon Ducks 21-14. Then, Jacob Eason and the UW offense marched down the field to open the third quarter. They were up 28-14 against a formidable Oregon football team. The Huskies were at home, up by two touchdowns and playing well.
Honestly, it was incredible, considering how strong the Oregon Ducks’ defense is. In their previous five games, Oregon held its opponents to a combined 25 points. Washington had it.
But, tragically, Oregon came back from a 14-point deficit and defeated the Huskies 35-31. Heartbreak and tragedy aside, here are the big takeaways from the loss.
Any Hope of a Huskies 2019 Pac-12 Title is Lost
Any chance the Huskies had of a Pac-12 title in 2019 is now gone. Against the Oregon Ducks, they needed to win. It was their only hope. And while they, for the most part, followed the keys to winning against Oregon, they lost. And with that loss, Washington lost their Pac-12 title berth.
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Jacob Eason and the Huskies Offense Finally Showed Up Against Competition
As most Huskies football fans will lament, Jacob Eason’s 2019 play is up and down. Against quality defenses, the offense collapsed. But somehow, against a stout Oregon Ducks defense, Eason and company rolled. Even with top-prospect Justin Herbert on the field, Eason was the better quarterback of the night. 23 of 30, 289 yards, 3 touchdowns and exceptional play against an incredible defense.
Against an Oregon Ducks team that only allowed 25 points in five games, the Huskies racked up 414 yards, 20 first downs, and 31 points. Although they failed in some areas, it was a bright game for Eason and the Huskies offense.
Young Talent Emerges Again
Surprisingly, this was without Sean McGrew, Richard Newton and Aaron Fuller. Even without some of their regular contributors, Washington made due and baffled Oregon with 31 points.
Without McGrew, Newton, and Fuller, the Huskies got to see some of their younger playmakers get involved. Alongside senior standout Hunter Bryant, Washington’s most utilized receivers were:
- Puka Nacua – Freshman – Wide Receiver
- Terrell Bynum – Sophomore – Wide Receiver
- Cade Otton – Sophomore – Tight End
The Huskies Went for it
Finally, Chris Peterson and the Huskies attempted multiple fourth-down conversions. Ignoring the final play of the game, the Huskies two earlier fourth downs were critical. Deciding to attempt fourth downs, rather than punt or kick, gave the Huskies an offensive advantage. They were good calls and it was nice to finally see a coach confident in his offense.
Now, back to that last fourth down. Obviously, as Huskies fans will attest, the fourth down was controversial. Was it pass interference?
Yes, it was obvious pass interference. To anyone that actually knows football, it was an easy flag. With the correct call made, the Huskies drive would continue. However, they still had a quarter of the field to go and the win wasn’t guaranteed.
Third Down Efficiency Killed the Huskies
But, as with many games, there were plenty of opportunities for the Huskies to win it earlier. On third down, the Huskies were atrocious. Just awful. They went 3 for 13. The play-calling on third down needs to improve.
While Eason isn’t perfect and does miss occasional reads and throws, he is an excellent quarterback. Great offensive play-callers optimize their talent. Unlock Eason with better schemes, routes and talent configuration. With more open looks and crafty play-calling, the Huskies win this game. This loss isn’t on Eason.
Growing Pains and Bowl Games
To say this season is a letdown for Huskies football fans is to say the least. They expected a Pac-12 Title game, another Rose Bowl and a possible College Football Playoff berth. However, with the losses to staggeringly different levels of talent, Washington’s high hopes are gone.
Still, there is good for the Huskies. They are only one win out of bowl eligibility. Will they get a Rose Bowl again? Not a chance. But at least they can end up in the Alamo Bowl, Holiday Bowl or Redbox Bowl. And, if Jacob Eason decides to come back in 2020, he’ll be the best quarterback in the Pac-12. Hands down.
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