UW/Arizona Game - Position Grades

When you talk about frustrating losses, this game will go down in the annals of Washington history in that category. From unforced turnovers to bad snaps to penalties to bad clock management, this game seemingly had it all. Here's a look at how each position group looked in UW's 27-26 loss to Arizona and what needs to get better as they head into the final two weeks of the season...

Quarterbacks - For the most part Cyler Miles had a solid day throwing the ball and a really good day running the ball. It was nice to see Miles, a 6’5”, 225-pounder, lower his shoulder a couple of times to get key first downs on several drives. You could tell he was feeling the hit he took on the third down option run that gave the Huskies a first down and appeared to seal the game for them. While he had a good day from a statistical standpoint (20 of 29 for 223 yards; 15 carries, 34 yards), you can’t overlook his two huge fumbles – one that came when he went to throw the ball and wasn’t hit, the other where he should have just eaten the ball after a bad snap. One cost the Huskies points since it came deep inside Arizona territory and the second came late in the second quarter deep in Husky territory, giving the Wildcats great field position to put up another touchdown before halftime. Grade: C.

Running Backs - Dwayne Washington’s career day (19 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns) came at a time when the Huskies needed a running game to take pressure off of Miles while also eating clock and keeping the ball away from a very good Arizona offense. The Huskies wound up running the ball 60 times on the day. The problem was, their 60th carry, resulted in a fumble that gave the ball back to Arizona with 1:23 remaining on the clock at the Husky 44. While it’s debatable whether Deontae Cooper’s knee was down before the ball came out, the mistake was that the ball came out at all. Grade: B.

Wide Receivers - Like I said in the game analysis, it was nice to see Kasen Williams get some targets. It seems the Husky staff may have figured out a way to use the senior receiver in the system. It also sounds like Williams “showed up”, according to head coach Chris Petersen, in practice this past week. Let’s hope that continues. Jaydon Mickens had the most receiving yards, but on his one long gainer (48 yards) he did wind up fumbling although it was recovered by the Huskies. Kendyl Taylor only got one target and realistically the pass shouldn’t have been thrown his way, but he still went up and brought down a one-handed reception between two Arizona defenders in what was the most spectacular catch of the day. You also have to include the touchdown pass that Marvin Hall threw for Washington’s first touchdown. Another feather in the receivers’ collective caps was their blocking down the field which allowed for Washington’s big day on the ground. Grade: A-.

Tight Ends - Josh Perkins continues to impress. He had a couple of nice blocks on running plays and hauled in the 36-yard touchdown pass from Perkins. He also had two key first downs on short passes, getting open through traffic and presenting himself as a target for Miles. There was also a Michael Hartvigson sighting as the fifth-year senior hauled in a pass at the Arizona 10, made a move and got the ball all the way down to the Wildcat one. Washington scored one play later and gave Washington a 26-21 lead late in the third quarter. The holds by Hartvigson and Darrell Daniels that brought back a 17-yard touchdown in the second quarter by Cooper proved to be huge as it resulted in the Huskies settling for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Grade: B.

Offensive Line - If it weren’t for Colin Tanigawa’s errant snaps, this would far and away be Washington’s best performance up front this season. The line consistently got push on an active Arizona defensive line and they typically got the second level to open things up further down the field. There were a couple of key holding and false start penalties that hurt things, but for the most part, this unit had one of its best overall games. The problem is, the bad snaps cost Washington timing on several plays and basically resulted in a turnover late in the first half that resulted in an Arizona touchdown. Grade: B.

Defensive Line - Danny Shelton asserted himself and finished the day with a team-leading nine tackles on the day as well as a sack. There were several times that the broadcast focused on Arizona center Steven Gurrola and you should see the frustration, exhaustion and exasperation of the senior pivot as he typically got bulldozed, even when he had help, by the All-American candidate. Andrew Hudson was also very active and he had a key sack deep in Arizona territory. Evan Hudson had a roughing the passer penalty that was declined due to a big gain, but he made his presence felt against the run. Subs like Taniela Tupou, Elijah Qualls and Joe Mathis also had solid afternoons in relief of the starters. The play of the defensive line is a big reason the Huskies were able to keep an explosive offense like Arizona’s in check. Grade: A.

Linebackers - The starters – John Timu, Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney were just okay. None of the three made an impactful play although they were there to clean things up after the line took care of things up front. Thompson showed some rust from not playing a lot of defense the past few weeks while Feeney and Timu continue to frustrate with their poor tackling. Keishawn Bierra continues to take bad angles and make some bad reads and his inexplicable should drop on the pile after a great interception return by Sidney Jones cost Washington 15 yards in field position. Scott Lawyer looked good at times, but he’s just not athletic enough to be a consistent playmaker in space. Grade: B-.

Defensive Backs - With three true freshman starting in the secondary, the fear going in had to be what Arizona’s deep receiver corps would be able to do down the field. With the exception of two long throws, the secondary held up well. Brandon Beavers’ big holding penalty on fourth down gave Arizona new life and led to a touchdown, but he also had two pass breakups on the day. Budda Baker seems to be playing faster and the Huskies really appeared to be ready routes much better than they had in previous weeks. The way the defensive line played really helped this position group out and that will be key moving forward. Grade: A-.

Punting/Kicking - Cameron Van Winkle hit the right upright and that miss proved to be huge as the Huskies lost the game by one point, but the sophomore did hit on two other attempts – from 39 and 31 yards out. Korey Durkee kept the ball away from the Wildcat punt returners and still managed to finish with a 45.5 yard average on five punts with a long of 55 yards. You do have to include the bad snap by Ryan Masel on a key extra point that also gave Arizona the chance to win the game. Grade: B.

Coverage/Return Teams - UA didn’t have any punt returns and Tristan Vizcaino got his kicks deep enough to allow just two Arizona kick returns, so the Wildcats were consistently facing long fields. Washington’s return teams didn’t see a lot of room either, so it was pretty much a draw on both sides of the ball. Grade: C.

Offensive Coaching - From a game plan standpoint, you couldn’t have asked for better from Jonathan Smith. As noted above, the Huskies ran the ball 60 times and kept Arizona’s potent offense off of the field and there were several play calls that were brilliant by Smith. However, the bad snaps and questionable run call at the end of the game when Washington could have taken a knee and run the clock down to under 10 seconds definitely nullifies the great game plan. Grade: C.

Defensive Coaching - Again, great game plan by Pete Kwiatkowski and great execution by the defensive line and secondary. The Arizona offense looked out of sync all day and a lot of that had to do with the Huskies’ plan to jam receivers and break quickly on passes in front of them and their ability to get pressure with four up front. The only question I have is why have Hau’oli Kikaha drop into coverage instead of rushing Anu Solomon when the Wildcats needed just 14 yards to get within field goal range. By rushing just three, it gave Solomon lots of time to find open receivers. That decision surprised and confused me. Grade: B.

Overall Grade - Petersen definitely made a mistake in not calling for a timeout with 30 seconds remaining, allowing the Wildcats to run the clock down. I guess he was saving his chance to call a timeout so that he could “ice” the kicker, but that has always been a questionable call to me. It rarely works and even when it does, we’ve seen many times where the kicker misses the first kick and then makes the second, which is exactly what happened on Saturday. Some are questioning whether Petersen is in over his head. I don’t think so, however, when you see some of the baffling decisions that were made, from clock management, to allowing Tanigawa to continue snapping when he’s obviously struggling, to the penalties, the season appears to be getting away from him and the rest of the staff. The team is still playing hard and they have a chance to go out and win their final two games and get to a bowl game. Overall this team played well enough to win the game, but some questionable coaching decisions and some serious gaffes by the players led to their fifth loss of the season. We’ll see how they rebound. It’s all on them at this point. Grade: C+.

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