Quarterbacks: How much should you expect from a true freshman starting the first game of his college career in an environment like Boise State on a Friday night? Jake Browning didn’t look flustered, but he did make several freshman errors, throwing a pick deep in Husky territory, taking a sack to take Washington out of field goal range and then not looking over to the coaches and killing the clock instead of running it down for the last play. Browning will learn and you can see the promise the coaches saw and why he is starting, however, there will definitely be growing pains as the Huskies rely on a true freshman signal-caller for the first time since Marques Tuiasosopo came in to replace an injured Brock Huard in the third game of the season back in 1997. Grade: C.
Running Backs: It’s tough to tell if the lack of a running game – tailbacks had just 17 yards rushing on 14 carries – rests solely with the running backs, on the line or on the play-calling or a combination of the three. The tailbacks did themselves no favors, especially Dwayne Washington, by dancing instead of hitting the hole hard, but there wasn’t much there most of the time anyway. On a positive note, Washington did prove to be solid in pass-protection and he also looked good on the two or three screen passes that were called. Grade: D.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: Like the tailback evaluation, it’s tough to say whether the receivers just weren’t getting open or whether their young quarterback wasn’t finding them. Was it lack of imaginative play calling or pass-protection? It’s really tough to say because they all seem to be contributing factors. Brayden Lenius had a couple of nice first down receptions, but he also had the holding call late that took Washington out of field goal range. Dante Pettis had a good night returning the ball, but he also lost track where he was on the field and was called for illegal touching on a first-down reception after stepping out of bounds and being the first player to touch the ball. Jaydon Mickens had a big first down reception and blocked a punt while Chico McClatcher and Isaiah Renfro both saw some throws, but neither really had an impact. The tight ends were virtually invisible although the Huskies did run a lot of two and three tight end sets. Grade: C.
Offensive Line: The good – the pass protection was good most of the night, save the final couple of plays where Browning took two sacks although both appeared to be situations where he needed to get rid of the ball rather than hold onto it. The bad - absolutely no push on running plays. The line got beat up front on a regular basis and the Boise State defensive front was much more physical that UW’s. The offense will only go as far as the line will let it, like most years, so this unit is the key to the attack and it must improve. Grade: D+.
Defensive Line: It was a tale of two halves for the Husky defense and especially the defensive line. Whereas in the first 30 minutes, the defensive line was playing on their heels most plays, in the second half they attacked and were much more physical than the veteran offensive line across from them. Joe Mathis had an outstanding game, totaling six tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while Elijah Qualls managed to rack up six tackles from his nose tackle spot. Overall, the defensive line held their own against a solid, experienced offensive line for Boise State. They could come out and play better early on, but as the game progressed they took over and dominated most of the evening. Grade: B.
Linebackers: Azeem Victor had a great night in his first college start, racking up 14 tackles and a tackle-for-loss. He was a physical presence whenever he was in there. In the second half, the linebacker attacked on almost every play and they really helped set the tone and were keys to keeping Boise State scoreless in the final 30 minutes of the game. The only quibble would be several missed tackles early in the game that allowed Boise State to extend drives. Grade: B+.
Secondary: The defensive backs had a solid if unspectacular night, limiting Boise State to just 129 passing yards and Kevin King added an interception in Husky territory to thwart a BSU scoring drive. There were definitely some missed assignments, but overall, the secondary had a very good night. Grade: B+.
Special Teams: The glaring miscue is Cameron Van Winkle’s 46-yard miss that would have sent the game to overtime, but he did hit on two other kicks from 40 and 28 yards. Korey Durkee didn’t have a good night, but Tristan Viscaino was solid on his kickoffs. Pettis had the play of the night, a 76-yard punt return, that electrified the Husky bench and the coverage teams were good most of the night. The Huskies also blocked a PAT and a punt, setting up a field goal, so overall, this was an outstanding night for the UW special teams. Grade: B+.
Coaching: This game was like night and day from the first half to the second half. The Husky offense looked confused and the defense looked soft and slow. While the offense still had its struggles in the second half, the defense brought their “A” game once they left the locker room and it showed as they held Boise State to less than 100 yards of offense and no points in the second half. Chris Petersen and his staff have to be commended for keeping the players focused and playing hard, but you have to question where things are going offensively. Grade: B-.
The Bottom Line: This team had enough talent to beat Boise State and they had the momentum late in the game, but youth at the quarterback position and a couple of errors doomed them. Defensively, the Huskies look like a bowl team, but until the offense improves, they might not get to where they want to be.