Running Backs - Like the rest of the offense, this was not a very good day for the running backs. Sure, the Huskies finished with 182 yards on the ground, but what really was concerning was their inability to help pick up the blitzes. There were at least four times during the game that a linebacker came free and a running back had the chance to make the block, however, they typically just let the blitzer run right by them, expecting Miles to make the man miss. Not good. There were few explosive plays from the running backs, but that isn’t always on them as there were really no holes and even when they did get to the second level, the receivers were unable to hold their blocks long enough to spring them. Grade: D+.
Wide Receivers - DiAndre Campbell (six receptions for 71 yards) and Jaydon Mickens (eight receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown) both had solid days catching the ball, but the receivers really were non-factors for much of the day. Kendyl Taylor and Kasen Williams both hauled in touchdowns, but the latter just continues to look like a lost man in the offense. He doesn’t seem to be held back by the leg injury he suffered midway through last season, but Miles just has not been able to find him at all and when he isn’t targeted he’s looked dejected, putting his head down and showing some frustration. One of Williams’ hallmarks, even when he wasn’t the first read on a play, was his blocking, but even that has suffered. None of the receivers seem to be adept blockers anymore and that is really hurting the running game right now. Grade: C-.
Tight Ends - No tight ends caught a pass, although Michael Hartvigson was one of the wide open players that Miles missed, and their efforts at blocking, both for the run and when they wanted to throw, were iffy at best. Grade: D.
Offensive Line - Considering their competition, this was probably the worst game of the four “preseason games” for the Huskies’ offensive line. They rarely got much push, they missed blocking assignments and they just flat out got beat on a couple of occasions. It’s hard to single out one or two players as it really was a unit effort, but redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton, who was standing in for injured starter Ben Riva, really struggled at times with the speed and power of the edge-rushers for the Panthers. Colin Tanigawa also got bull-rushed a couple of times and James Atoe just looked slow and unathletic in space. Dexter Charles was his typically solid self, but even he missed a couple of assignments. Grade: D.
Defensive Line - Does anything else need to be said about what Danny Shelton has been able to do during the first third of the season? The big man from Auburn is just a menace up front for Washington opponents. The way the coaches are lining him up, it’s almost impossible to know what he’s going to do. He typically lines up over the center, however, at times he moves outside and then twists and rushes inside. He led the team for the second time in four games with 13 tackles (nine solo) while also racking up two tackles-for-loss and a sack. Hauoli Kikaha also had a solid afternoon with two tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack, but it was his countless pressures on GSU QB Nick Arbuckle in the second half that really helped out the Dawgs. Both of the Hudsons, Andrew and Evan, had solid afternoons as well. The backups didn’t do much of consequence although with the way Washington was subbing in the second half, players like Elijah Qualls, Taniela Tupou, Jarett Finau and Will Dissly definitely helped the UW effort in holding the Panthers to just 47 yards and no points in the final 30 minutes. Grade: B+.
Linebackers - John Timu’s pick six was the highlight for this group, but overall, they were only so-so. The linebackers struggled with the underneath routes, something they will see a lot of during league play, but they did hold up well against the run and Travis Feeney definitely brought his physicality with a couple of big hits on ball carriers and return men. Grade: C+.
Defensive Backs - Marcus Peters, who returned after his one-game suspension, looked great as he locked down one side of the field and managed to come up with two interceptions as well. He had a third, but it was called back for pass-interference. Sidney Jones on the other hand, really looked like a freshman. Arbuckle found him early and kept picking on him until Washington rolled a safety over to help him out. Jones will be a good one very soon, but he’s definitely got a lot to learn and it will be a trial by fire all season for him. The safeties struggled a lot in the first half to make plays in space, but they tightened things up in the second half. Kevin King finished with nine tackles (six solo) on the day and Budda Baker had five stops of his own, but both had some big misses in the first half as well. Grade: C+.
Punting/Kicking - Korey Durkee almost had a punt blocked, but overall he was solid yet again, dropping two punts inside the 20, helping Washington to win the field position battle in the second half and Cameron Van Winkle continued to be perfect on the season, hitting from 25 yards out on his only attempt. Tristan Vizcaino isn’t asked to have get touchbacks, so he doesn’t boom the ball on kickoffs much, but he continues to pin return men deep and he’s got a knack for hitting corners. Grade: A-.
Coverage/Return Teams - Dante Pettis looked outstanding returning punts setting up Washington’s first score with a 35-yard return down to the GSU 18. He also had another big return, a second 35-yarder, that helped Washington continue their good starting field the entire second half. Washington only got one chance to return a kickoff and Deontae Cooper only managed six yards. The coverage teams were solid most of the afternoon and they delivered some big hits. Grade: A.
Offensive Coaching - Everyone was asking why Washington didn’t go down the field more. There were two reasons – John Ross was missing with an injury and the lack of protection up front – and in his post-game comments, head coach Chris Petersen basically said that they decided to just keep things short since they couldn’t give Miles the time to go down the field. Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith decided to rely on his running game and even unveiled a pack with Lindquist as a “Wildcat” QB, out of which they got two touchdowns, so they were doing what they needed to do to get things going, but the biggest reason for their point output was because of the special teams and defense. It’s definitely concerning that the offense was only able to manage 336 yards of offense vs. Georgia State and hopefully that gets fixed sooner rather than later. Grade: C-.
Defensive Coaching - The Huskies continued their trend of using Kikaha in the pass-rush more than they had been and they are coming up with new ways of using Shelton as well. It’s tough to blame them too much for the freshman mistakes that are being made in the secondary, that’s something that will happen when you are playing a lot of youngster s. The defense didn’t do a great job of stopping the Panthers in the first half, allowing the visitors to hold the ball for 21 minutes and roll up 233 yards, but they tightened things up and made some halftime adjustments and allowed GSU just 47 yards in the second half. Grade: C+.
Overall Grade - Petersen, and I’m sure the rest of the coaching staff, was very frustrated with what he witnessed in the first half. He said it was probably the worst half of football that he’s been associated with since he started coaching. However, the staff and players made the necessary adjustments and dominated like many expected in the second half. Is this team ready for Pac 12 play? Ready or not, the season truly gets underway next weekend when they play host to a very tough Stanford team who had a bye this weekend. The intensity level was poor for the Huskies out of the gate and the players admitted they didn’t take their game against Georgia State seriously. Hopefully this was a wakeup call for them. If it is indicative of where this team’s collective heads are heading into Pac 12 play, then this team is in some serious trouble. We’ll find out soon enough. The performance in the first half would have garnered an “F”, but with how they dominated in the second half, you can argue that the overall grade should be a “C”, so that’s what I’m going with in the end. Grade: C.