Hawaii Game - Position Grades

Here is a look at how each position graded out, at least in our book, during Washington's 17-16 win over Hawaii to start the 2014 football season...

Quarterback – Jeff Lindquist’s first game as the starter got off to a rocky start with a dropped pass from Jaydon Mickens, but for the most part, his efforts in the first half were admirable, especially his picture-perfect pass to John Ross for a 91-yard touchdown to give Washington the lead. However, he was abysmal in the second half, completing just 3 of his 15 attempts for 32 yards. The one positive is he didn’t turn the ball over and he only took one sack, but his passes weren’t even close in the second half and the passing game, or lack thereof, is a big reason why the Huskies didn’t score in the second half and could only must three first downs until the final drive to seal the win. Grade: D.

Running Backs – The performance of Lavon Coleman (17 carries for 78 yards) down the stretch of game (6 carries for 47 yards and three key first downs) brings this grade up a little bit, but overall this was a poor performance. Dwayne Washington looked pedestrian as did Jesse Callier on two of his three touches. A lot of their struggles came from the lackluster play by the offensive line, but Washington missed several holes and cutback opportunities on the night and none really had an explosive play. Grade: C.

Wide Receivers – Other than Ross, the receivers weren’t anything special. As great as Mickens has looked since the start of fall camp, he really struggled to make plays and dropped an easy reception that would have resulted in a first down on Washington first drive. Even more concerning was the fact that the Huskies couldn’t get open at all down the field, save the long pass to Ross, and they rarely got any separation. Will it improve? It had better or the offense is in really bad shape. Grade: C.

Tight Ends – Michael Hartvigson was the only tight end targeted by Lindquist on the night and he had one nice catch while Lindquist missed him on two other throws, one of which could have resulted in a big play had they been able to complete it. With the woeful run blocking during the game, some of that has to lie at the feet of the tight ends, so that’s an area of improvement that needs to be a real focus this week. Grade: D+.

Offensive Line – Coleman Shelton replaced Ben Riva in the starting lineup and held his own, but, for the most part, the offensive line wasn’t able to get much push although they didn’t allow much pressure on Lindquist so, at least in that respect, they did their job. Overall, the expectations for a group that includes over 100 starts were not met. The line looked slow and plodding and they got very little push up front against a Hawaii defensive line they outweighed by about 30 pounds on average. Grade: D+.

Defensive Line – On one hand, you look at Danny Shelton’s stat line – 12 tackles (6 solo), two sacks, three tackles-for-loss – and you think to yourself “he had one hell of a game”. But more often than not, Shelton and the rest of the defensive line was blown off the ball and they allowed 217 yards on the ground, about 60 more than they allowed in 2013. The other issue was the lack of pressure on Ikaika Woolsey who rarely had anyone in his face unless the coverage down the field was good. Shelton (two) and Kikaha (one) recorded the only sacks on the day and the other linemen rarely got penetration although Andrew Hudson, Elijah Qualls and Taniela Tupou all were solid against the run when they were in. Grade: C-.

Linebackers – John Timu had a good night from a statistical standpoint, but almost all of his tackles (nine) were made down the field and rarely did he stand anyone up. Shaquille Thompson wasn’t a presence at all and Travis Feeney, Scott Lawyer and Keishawn Bierria weren’t factors when they were in. This defense relies on the linebackers’ playmaking abilities and in that respect, the unit failed miserably. Grade: D.

Defensive Backs – Freshman Budda Baker, one of the most highly acclaimed recruits to ever come out of the state of Washington, definitely looked his age on Saturday and Hawaii did their best to locate where he was and pick on him. Baker missed a couple of tackles, struggled when isolated against a receiver and made some bad reads, but he battled all night long and still managed to post seven solo tackles on the night. Marcus Peters and Jermaine Kelly, getting his first start, both had key pass-interference penalties that kept Hawaii drives alive early on, but Peters looked the part of a budding pro with his reads and coverages later in the game. Overall, the defensive backs, due to their inexperience, get a bit of a pass since the front seven didn’t help them out much, but they still didn’t play very well. Grade: C.

Punting/Kicking – Tristan Vizcaino didn’t get his kicks into the endzone, but then again, who knows if that’s not what the coaches asked him to do? Cameron Van Winkle hit his only field goal attempt, a 36-yarder to end the first half, and Korey Durkee looked solid for the most part, averaging over 42 yards per punt on eight punts with a long of 62 and he dropped two inside the 20. Even more impressive was his hang time as he rarely let Scott Harding do much other than make a fair catch. Grade: B+.

Coverage/Return Teams: Other than the opening kickoff, the Huskies did a great job in coverage on the night. Feeney absolutely destroyed a kickoff returner and, more often than not, guys like Baker and Brian Clay, who had two special teams tackles, were down deep on both kicks and punts. Ross had a 40-yard return and looked solid on kick returns, but Mickens looked indecisive on a couple of short punts from Harding, allowing short punts to turn into long ones, putting Washington deep in their own territory to start out drives. Grade: B-. Offensive Coaching: Overall, the game plan looked pretty vanilla offensively as the Huskies didn’t try to do too much with a first time starter at quarterback, but with a lack of a passing game, the Warriors just loaded the box and made it very hard to run the ball. The Huskies did milk the clock toward the end of the game, running out the final 2:40 seconds behind the running of Coleman who was the hot hand at the time. Grade: C.

Defensive Coaching: On one hand, it’s hard to criticize the defensive scheme since the Huskies did manage to hold Hawaii to just 16 points and only six in the second half. However, on the other hand, it sure seemed like they could have done more to get their players “up” to play Hawaii, a team that, despite their 1-11 record, had some big, physical players to deal with. The players put up big numbers, but that is because they were on the field so much (58 plays in the first half alone) and they had a couple of costly penalties on third downs that extended drives. Because they allowed 217 yards on the ground and rarely got pressure, even when they brought the blitz, their grade, which would have been a C+, goes down. Grade: C-.

Overall Grade: Chris Petersen and his staff obviously have a lot of work to do, but these are the typical growing pains for a new coach and the implementation of new schemes. Petersen kept the players focused, didn’t allow them to feel sorry for themselves and I am sure they will have some spirited practices this week. Overall the grade will be lower than it probably should be, but for the most part, they did what they needed to do to get the win and that’s the most important thing. How they improve off of this win will be interesting to see. Grade: C-.

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