USA Today Sports

Grades for each position group after re-watching the USC/Washington game

We've gone over the film and we're ready to give our grades for each position group from Washington's game with USC on Thursday night...

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Quarterbacks: This was not a very good game for Jake Browning. He overthrew at least three open wide receivers on deep routes that would have given Washington a big early lead. He also squandered a couple of other drives/scoring opportunities by throwing a pick in the redzone (it could be argued that TE Josh Perkins ran a poor route) and he underthrew two passes to Perkins that would have gone for big gains or touchdowns as well. That being said, Browning did make a couple of very nice throws including the clutch six-yard completion to Jaydon Mickens on 3rd-and-5 with 2:10 remaining in the game, to give the Huskies a new set of downs and allowing them to run out the clock to seal the game.  Grade: C-.

Running Backs: Welcome to the national college football scene Myles Gaskin. The freshman totaled 134 yards on 22 carries and his touchdown early in the third quarter was the winning score in UW’s 17-12 victory. Gaskin actually had four-straight carries including a impressing 31-yard jaunt that saw him use his vision, quickness and explosiveness to carve up the USC defense. Dwayne Washington was the only other tailback to get reps and he totaled 15 yards on nine carries and also had two receptions for 17 yards. Grade: B+.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: Mickens had his best game of the season. Sure, he only totaled 49 yards on six receptions, but three of his catches went for key first downs and his final grab was the biggest of the bunch, as it allowed the Huskies to run out the clock. Dante Pettis got open deep a couple of times, but Browning overthrew him and Brayden Lenius finally showed why the coaches are so high on him, going up over a USC defensive back for a 22-yard grab that resulted in a first down. Marvin Hall also threw a touchdown pass early in the third quarter. They still struggled blocking on the edge and that limited the running game a tad, but overall this was a good game for the wideouts. Perkins led the Huskies with 57 yards on four receptions and he also had a touchdown. On two occasions, Perkins was open for either a long-gainer or a touchdown and Browning underthrew him, however, you expect your tight end to go up and get the ball and then be strong enough to bring it down for the reception. That didn’t happen. Perkins also appeared to quit on a route that led to an interception. The blocking by the tight ends was also iffy at best although they picked things up in the second half, opening holes for Gaskin to scoot through. Grade: B-.

Offensive Line: Browning was under duress early in the game, but the Huskies made some adjustments and as the contest moved along, the offensive line really asserted itself. Jake Eldrenkamp and Siosifa Tufunga had very good games while freshman Trey Adams appeared to make some strides at left tackle. Andrew Kirkland got his first start as a Dawg and, other than an illegal procedure penalty, you didn’t notice him much which is one of the best things you can say about a lineman. Props also has to be given to Coleman Shelton who played his fourth position along the offensive line when he moved over the right guard. The line imposed their will on the USC defense in the third quarter, when the Huskies essentially won the game, and they kept Browning upright for most of the second half as well. All in all, this is probably the best game of the season, and maybe the Chris Petersen era, for the offensive line. Grade: B+.

Defensive Line: His stats don’t reflect his overall contribution, but NT Elijah Qualls really had a great game. The sophomore only had two tackles and a sack, but his push up the middle allowed the edge rushers have free runs at Cody Kessler and that allowed the Huskies to put several big hits on the Trojan quarterback. DE Taniela Tupou had a fumble recovery and generally held his ground pretty well. A big negative was the fact that USC totaled 222 yards on the ground (the sacks on Kessler took it down to 190 as the official number), but they did bow up and make plays when needed. It definitely wasn’t a perfect game for the defensive line, but overall they had a solid evening. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Other than two roughing-the-quarterback penalties, one resulting in an ejection for Azeem Victor for targeting (a very questionable call), this unit was amazing. Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney both got tremendous pressure on the quarterback while Keishawn Bierria and Victor, who both also had sacks, brought a physicality to the game that the Trojans were unable to match. The game was, arguably, Feeney’s best as a Husky as the senior totaled seven tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and three quarterback hurries. There was a noticeable drop-off when Scott Lawyer and Sean Constantine came in the game, so that is definitely something to keep an eye on. Freshmen linebackers Tevis Bartlett and Ben Burr-Kirven were contributors on special teams as well. Grade: A-.

Secondary: You have to be impressed with the growing confidence in the Husky secondary. They came out early and had two interceptions (one by Sidney Jones and one by Darren Gardenhire) on Kessler and should have had a third. The Huskies held Juju Smith-Schuster in check most of the night while Budda Baker returned from an ankle injury to finish with eight tackles and a pass breakup. A big key for the Husky defense was the ability to keep the big plays to a minimum and they did that with aplomb. Grade: A.

Special Teams:Cameron Van Winkle missed a 36-yard field goal early, but made a key 21-yarder later on. P Korey Durkee averaged 47 yards on five punts while dropping one inside the 20 and he also had a long of 55. More importantly, he did a good job of keeping the ball out of the hands of Adoree Jackson. Speaking of Jackson, the coverage teams did a great job of hemming him in, holding him to just 12 yards on three returns. Grade: B+.

Coaching: The offensive game plan was solid -- try and hit some big plays early and grind it out on the ground -- and other than some misses by Browning, the players executed things well. Even when they were stopped on the ground, the coaches were “stubborn” about running the ball, according to Petersen and that is why they were eventually able to get into a good rhythm. Defensively, the stop unit was much more physical than USC, starting from the first play all the way until the end. Even when Victor was lost to bad targeting call, the Huskies still brought the physicality. Grade: A.

The Bottom Line: The Huskies are 3-2 and the team seems to be riding high heading into Oregon week. The players seem to be fully bought-in to what the coaches are doing and the coaches seem to be pushing all of the right buttons. While the win over USC was impressive, it was far from a perfect contest by the team, so there is still room for plenty of improvement, but if this team brings the type of intensity they did on Thursday, they definitely have a chance to make a bowl game, something most thought was going to be impossible after their loss to Cal two weeks ago.


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