Eastern Washington Game - Position Grades

A look at how each position group graded out, at least in our book, during Washington's 59-52 win over Eastern Washington in the first home game of the 2014 football season...

Quarterbacks - From a throwing standpoint, Cyler Miles was so-so. He made a couple of nice throws, including the two clutch third-down passes -- one to Jaydon Mickens to extend a touchdown drive and one to Darrell Daniels to basically close the game out -- but overall he wasn't much of a threat throwing ball down the field. He also stared down his receivers too much and could have and probably should have been picked at least twice. However, the quarterback position isn't just about passing. It's more about being a leader for your team and making plays when they are needed most and in that regard, Miles definitely filled his role. He also managed to rush for 58 yards and three scores, using his legs to really stretch and strain the Eagles' defense. Grade: B+.

Running Backs - In addition to what Miles contributed, Lavon Coleman had a big day on the ground going for 118 yards and a touchdown. Shaquille Thompson moved over to the offensive side of the ball and got three carries, including one he took 57 yards for another score. Neither Deontae Cooper (5 carries, 37 yards), nor Jesse Callier (6 carries, 22 yards) nor Dwayne Washington (10 carries, 35 yards, 2 TDs) were able to break out much, but they did have some key carries at important junctures in the game. So far, none of the backs have contributed much in the passing game, so it's hard to figure out if that's because of the play-calling or because they aren't very good in that area. Grade: B+.

Wide Receivers - It looked like the coaches were going to do their best to get Kasen Williams involved early and often, throwing the first pass to him and completing it for 19 yards. However, he was rarely targeted and still doesn't look 100% healthy. Jaydon Mickens had a solid afternoon hauling in six receptions for 53 yards and providing a key block on John Ross' long touchdown jaunt. Ross was his typical explosive self, but even he didn't see much in the way of targets, hauling in just two receptions for 54 yards. I'm giving them a B because of the one big play, the solid blocking and because the Huskies just didn't throw the ball much, but it probably should be more like a C. Grade: B.

Tight Ends - The only tight end to get a pass thrown his way was Darrell Daniels, but boy were they important. He had one nice catch in the middle of the field in traffic and then he hauled in the very important pass from Miles on the final drive that gave the Huskies a first down and allowed them to run out the clock. Michael Hartvigson and David Ajamu had some reps, but they were used strictly as blockers. Joshua Perkins was in street clothes so it's hard to say what his situation was. Grade: B+.

Offensive Line - This was one of the best games we've seen from the offensive line in quite some time. Now, some of that could have to do with the opponent, but they still got the job done regardless of who played in front of them. They paved the way for over 350 yards on the ground and they also kept Miles upright, surrendering no sacks. James Atoe bounced back after a rather dismal performance against Hawaii last week and certainly didn't look like he was in over his head. Grade: A

Defensive Line - Danny Shelton had a monster game. He pursued from all over and he even stood up, rushing the quarterback from a two-point stance. He finished the day with 12 tackles (eight solo), 4.5 sacks and four tackles-for-loss. If he doesn't get a look as Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Week, I call shenanigans! The rest of the line didn't do much. They rarely got pressure on the quarterback and allowed Vernon Adams a lot of time to pick apart the Husky secondary. They also struggled to get off blocks, an area the entire defense seems deficient in. This unit gets a D+ because of Shelton's productivity, but it really could very easily have been an F. Grade: D+.

Linebackers - Thompson showed up big time, a huge improvement over his Hawaii performance, leading the team with 14 tackles while also posting a sack and a tackle-for-loss. Timu totaled six stops, but he missed quite a few opportunities to make tackles and he was pulled at different times in passing downs, something that the senior isn't used to. Timu and Thompson combined to force the fumble that halted an EWU bid to tie the game with over 12 minutes left in the game. The man that recovered the ball, Travis Feeney, still appears to be feeling his way with the new staff, but he definitely had a much better game this week than he did in Honolulu. Hauoli Kikaha was asked to drop into coverage quite a bit, which boggles the mind, but he did provide pressure late in the game. Grade: C.

Defensive Backs - The leader of this unit, junior Marcus Peters, was pulled from the game in the third quarter after getting an unsportsmanlike penalty when it appeared the Huskies had held Eastern Washington on third down. He pouted and argued on the sidelines for a while and when the game ended, instead of shaking hands, he headed directly to the locker room. Without their best cover man, playing multiple true freshmen and getting little pass--rush, Washington's secondary was torched by Vernon Adams for 475 yards and seven touchdowns, both school records. On the positive side, Sidney Jones appeared to be in good position to make plays, but he didn't make them so he definitely needs to work on his ball skills. Budda Baker appeared to recover after giving up a touchdown in the second quarter and always seemed to be around the ball and Travell Dixon came and and held his own in the final two quarters. Grade: F.

Punting/Kicking - Tristan Vizciano had some nice wind-aided kickoffs that went six to eight yards deep, forcing touchbacks. Cameron Van Winkle missed an extra point that could have been a killer, however, Kasen Williams was able to haul in a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to square things up. The sophomore did manage to hit his lone field goal attempt from 37 yards out. Korey Durkee only had two punt attempts averaging just 36 yards per attempt.

Coverage/Return Teams - The Huskies only forced one punt and Dante Pettis is the man who was sent back to gather it in. The kickoff returns never seemed to get untracked although they did give the Huskies the ball a couple of times around the 40 yard line. Brian Clay had two solid tackles on the coverage units, but his biggest contribution likely was his recovery of EWU's onside kick late in the game to help seal the win. Grade: C.

Offensive Coaching - Once Jonathan Smith stopped calling pass plays and just stuck to the run, the Husky offense really started to hum. He built the pass off of the run and that set things up for Miles to make some key completions late in the game. Grade: B.

Defensive Coaching - As we've been saying since we saw it happening, it is just baffling that the defensive staff would use Kikaha in any other role other than rushing the quarterback. Kikaha looks like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole at the BUCK position. He's not good dropping into coverage and hopefully the coaches see what everyone else seems to be seeing. Kikaha should be coming off the edge and providing pressure on the quarterback and that's just not happening on a regular enough basis right now. Jimmy Lake is in a precarious position with all of his young players and who knows where thigns are headed with Peters. He just needs to continue working with his young charges, but right now, they are definitely a liability. Grade: D.

Overall Grade - The process, as the entire coaching staff likes to call it, is underway. The Husky players haven't quite bought into the system yet although they are getting there. The coaches did what they could to keep their players focused on the task at hand and Chris Petersen showed he will focus on discipline first, regardless of the situation or status of the player he has to make an example of -- ie. Peters. Games like this are tough for fans to watch, but in the end, it will probably be a catalyst for improvement moving forward. Grade: C.

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