Washington Football and Missed Expectations
After nine games, it’s crystal clear that the Washington Huskies have problems. Their five and four record exemplifies that. Even worse, the Huskies are two and four in Pac-12 conference games. For fans, it feels like a lost season. Expectations were as high as College Football Playoffs but fell to hopes of any bowl appearance.
UW Can’t finish games
Against Cal, Washington led 19-17 with just two minutes and five seconds left. Versus Oregon, the Huskies were up 28-14 in the second half. Most recently, against Utah, UW was up 21-13 in the third quarter.
And yet, Washington lost each of these games. They collapsed. In the first halves, the Huskies look dominant as can be. Eason and company, as well as the defense, make play after play. But then, once the game is on the line, something shifts. 2019 is full of difficult and painful learning opportunities.
But, here’s the ugliest part of it all. Each of these losses came at home. They lost three games, after leading inside Husky Stadium. Even with home-field advantage (evidenced by referee favor in “Scorecasting” by Tobias Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim), Washington couldn’t close out games. Honestly, who wants to go to a Husky game if they keep losing at home?
Washington’s hopes for a bowl game
Thankfully, because Washington isn’t a dreadful team, they still should make a bowl game. According to experts, Washington will play in the Alamo, Holiday or Redbox Bowl.. Kyle Bonagura from ESPN predicts UW to play in the Alamo Bowl against Baylor. Also from ESPN, Mark Schlabach thinks that the Huskies will land in the Holiday Bowl versus Michigan. Joe Tansey from Bleacher Report has Washington playing against Michigan State in the Holiday Bowl. Jerry Palm of CBS Sports projects UW to face off against Indiana in the Redbox Bowl.
If nothing else, a bowl win is a great way to finish the season.
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Hopes for next season
Pray that Jacob Eason stays
First off, it goes without saying that Washington needs Jacob Eason to stay. He hasn’t been perfect, but my goodness has he had his moments.
Unfortunately, Jacob Eason is a top quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL draft. Walter Football ranks him fourth among eligible quarterbacks. Additionally, drafttek.com has Eason at 50th overall and their sixth quarterback. He’s a strong, NFL prospect. Considering the turmoil in the NFL right now with quarterbacks and the success of Gardner Minshew, Eason will get drafted early if he enters the 2020 draft.
Play young talent
It took too long to get Puka Nacua involved. For some reason, Chris Peterson continued to play seniors over more talented receivers. Granted, it’s easy to trust seniority over raw talent. But, according to many beat reporters and scouts, Puka Nacua turned heads in practices. Then, once inserted into games, he displayed playmaking abilities. Improper self-scouting cost Washington points.
Because the Huskies lose Aaron Fuller, Andre Baccellia, Chico McClatcher and likely Hunter Bryant this season, it will force them to play different receivers on offense. But, Nacua is just one wide receiver highlighting a larger issue. The Huskies need to prioritize talent and upside over age and safety.
Better execution on third down
On third down this season, the Huskies converted 41 of 115 opportunities (35.65-percent). Some of the most painful punts to watch were followed by game-changing drives by Cal, Oregon, and Utah. Better innovation is needed. Which, considering Washington’s two and four record in Pac-12 games, should be an obvious desire. UW knows these opponents. It shouldn’t be this difficult to game-plan against familiar opponents.
Less field goals, more touchdowns for Washington
This season, in the red zone, Washington scored 21 touchdowns and kicked 13 field goals. Against competitive teams, UW settled for safety and squandered their winning chances. Of note, the Huskies are 14 of 21 (66.67-percent) on fourth down this season. Why not go for it more often? They certainly can’t do worse than this season.