Monday Night Musings

I was excited to see Troy Williams’ first collegiate start for the Washington Huskies. He was exciting to watch in the spring and the early fall camp reports on him were good. When Steve Sarkisian recruited him to Washington, it was with the mind that he would take over early in his career. So we entered windy, rainy Saturday evening full of hope.

I can safely say that Saturday’s debacle will soon be forgotten. Williams was able to muster just three points for the offense while at the helm, and produced three turnovers, including a pick-six on a desperation heave in the fourth quarter on fourth down.

Williams is just a freshman, and he probably had the playbook cut down severely due to injuries and lack of trust from the head coach. Chris Petersen said during his coaches' show that 75 percent of the passing plays were taken out specifically because of the rampant, swirling winds. But it was almost shocking how ineffective he was. He never looked comfortable in the huddle, behind center, or anywhere else. He looked like he was pressing, and he was unable to get his formidable wheels untracked.

Shaq Thompson produced a solid game at running back, carrying the rock 21 times and picking up just two yards shy of 100 yards. However he was unable to punch it into the end zone on a third and goal from the two-yard line. Washington tried a student body right sweep and the Sun Devils easily caved in the right side of the underproductive UW offensive line and bulldogged Thompson before he ever reached the line of scrimmage, forcing the Huskies to settle for a game-tying field goal.

The play call was understandable, given how ineffective Williams was at throwing into a stiff wind. It was nice that Jonathan Smith, Washington’s offensive coordinator, trusted the Husky line enough to not get fancy, and just try to smash it in ASU’s face. However the Huskies just don’t have the horses up front to deliver in that type of scenario this year. The line has been inconsistent, and it plagued them on that fateful third down sweep play near the east end zone.

So Washington is now 5-3, with back-to-back losses to two very good teams. It’s pretty much where the program is now.

For those that felt the offensive line would be a strength considering the experience returning and the depth, that line of thinking is no longer in effect. I was in that camp, so I know it is long since time to surrender that thought.

For those that were excited to see Troy Williams - the kid with the “it” factor - get out there and mix it up when the bullets were live, it was asking too much. He looked lost, bewildered, and just didn’t have enough help. And he isn’t good enough to carry a team. Whether he develops in that regard, time will tell. Until further notice though, he should probably sit and watch Cyler Miles from the sidelines if Cyler is okay to get back under center.

Miles has the ability to move the team down the field with a bit more certainty despite not having a great arm or having Williams’ foot speed. It’s obvious that the guys in the huddle and the coaches trust him more than either Williams or Jeff Lindquist. If the offensive brain trust did harbor any hope for Lindquist, we would’ve seen him n the game probably about midway through the third quarter. It didn’t happen, so that answered pretty much any question about him adding to his role of designated wildcat quarterback.

Washington’s defense is playing more than well enough to keep the Huskies in any game they’re playing. On Saturday they had a remarkable goal-line stand from the one-yard line on four straight plays, keeping the Devils out of the end zone and keeping the game close. They sacked quarterback Taylor Kelly SEVEN times, and scored another touchdown. John Timu’s pick six was the defense's sixth touchdown of the season.

However, when you are saddled with an offense that ranks last in the Pac-12 in total offense and passing offense, that is asking too much from the defense and special teams.

There is a glaring statistic that has been going for 10 years running now, and it has to be disappointing to the program and the fan base. If Washington loses to Colorado on Saturday morning in Boulder, it will mark the 11th straight season that the Huskies will have suffered three losses in a row. That is an area where you don’t want to be consistent, but a decade of those streaks tells you that Washington has been remarkably consistent in their ability to drop three straight during a season.

The deficiencies on offense are glaring, and no longer shocking. The upperclassmen that make up the offensive line are getting handled up front, and the tailbacks that line up behind them - while banged up at the moment - aren’t able to make them look good. Coach Pete is going to need to recruit both of these areas with great success to turn this around. Perhaps the speedy Jomon Dotson will be the future and hopefully guys like Dexter Charles and Sifa Tufunga (who will be seniors next year), redshirting Shane Brostek and Coleman Shelton (sophomore next year) will be able to elevate the offensive line performance. It’s going to be a crapshoot with new names such as Dane Crane, Andrew Kirkland and Jake Eldrenkamp being asked to play starter minutes. Petersen needs more guys here and some development to occur in the younger ranks from guys like Jesse Sosebee, Devin Burleson, Matt James and John Turner. It won’t happen for a couple more years, but that’s kind of where this offense is.

Will K. J. Carta-Samuels be the answer at quarterback? He was a Petersen recruit, so it stands to reason that he might be more of the prototypical Coach Pete quarterback for his system. He needs a kid that will stand in, make the right decisions, and deliver an accurate ball. Is Carta-Samuels the guy for the future? Or perhaps incoming true frosh Jake Browning, the kid from Folsom, Calif. that is turning the record books on its ear? Both of these kids will certainly be given the chance to impress Petersen early in their careers.

For those of you that saw a Husky team entering this week at 5-3, my hat is off to you. I didn’t see this coming. Not at all. While the defense has been a sensation overall and the young secondary a pleasant surprise, the offense has been an unmitigated disaster. Bishop Sankey, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Keith Price both meant a lot more to the offense than some thought.

Enough so that the new head coach apparently saw it fit to start from scratch.


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