Three Things We Learned: Washington, Oregon


1. I am what I am

It’s very possible / likely that we were able to write this after Cal’s game, but now I’m 100% ready to state it for everyone to hear. This team is just mediocre and there’s no realistic way to optimize yourself out of that sight. Washington has now faced 2 of the 3 least talented teams in the division and the two are tied 24-24 with 5 seconds left. And it’s very reasonable to think the Huskies have been lucky to be in this position both times.

Kudos to for their advanced box scores which include Expected Points Added (EPA) which is a stat that judges a team’s performance against the average team given their ground / distance and over position. the pitch every game. Large gaps between the EPA differential and the final score suggest that a few key 3rd downs or turnovers turned the game up considerably. Washington ended the Oregon State game with -14 , 62 EPA against 6.48 for the OSU. If you felt like the Huskies should have lost by 3 touchdowns instead of a basket for you, there’s a reason for that.

Oh and the Washington offensive EPA per game? -20.16, -5.47, +9.96, -5.26 and -10.14. If the Huskies had even had an exactly average offense, they would have scored 27, 15, 42, 29 (in regulation) and 34 points instead of what they got. I’d love to say the Huskies are only ready for a good half per game, but it’s really like they can assemble 3 proficient discs per game, so 25-40% depending on the pace of the game. , they are completely miserable to see. And they lack options for what to change. The host body is for the most part in good health. The running backs have been replaced. That just leaves …

There was a brief hope that better health could bring this team back to looking a bit like the team we thought we had in the offseason. At the start of spring training it would have been reasonable to call up the 5 most important offensive players Morris, Otton, Kirkland, Bynum and Odunze taking into account the depth at each position and on the choice of ZTF defense, Ulofoshio, McDuffie, Tuli, and Radley Hiles. 7 of those 10 players missed at least the majority of one game and combined they missed about 14 games or on average about 28% of snaps. I would love to be able to use this as an excuse, but nothing I saw suggests that the performance would be much more improved if they had all been at 100%.

Does Washington score that touchdown just before half-time if Otto is in the game blocking near the goal line or attracting extra defensive attention? May be. Does ZTF get an extra sack / fumble that gives UW an extra field goal opportunity? May be. But every team deals with absences and outside of Game 1, when Washington was completely wiped out in the same position, it’s hard to feel that they were much more unlucky in that regard than the average team. They are not what we thought they were, but they are what we think they are. And we don’t want to crown them.

2. Tea Time (with an extra side of beef)

It feels weird to say this when the opponent ran for 254 yards, but at the same time, it was the first game of the entire season where it looked like the Huskies were getting impact plays from the defensive tackle position. Do not mistake yourself. We’re still a long way from giving the Killer T nickname to Taki, Tuli, and Tuitele (although I really want them to earn that nickname). But the trio eventually began to play occasionally behind the line of scrimmage.

At the end of the match, Taimani was credited with 2 TFLs, Tuitele with 1 and Tuli with 0.5. The biggest positive play for Washington was the forced fumble by Tuitele and returned almost all the way by Taimani to (unfortunately briefly) give the Huskies the lead in the 4th quarter. In the last 3 games, Tuitele has been pressured 6 times with 3 sacks out of 56 rush opportunities by PFF. That 10.7% pressure rate and 5.3% sack rate is very good for a player who is nominally a TD even if he is playing a few outside snaps in heavier lineups. In a certain context, Levi Onwuzurike’s career pressure rate was 11.1% and his dismissal rate was 1.6%. The downside is that PFF also has Tuitele as a defender of the excruciating race, but at the very least he has shown himself to be an indoor option more for transmissions.

Taki Taimani can have a hard time getting out of blocks at times, but at the very least he’s become a sure tackle and was able to get into the backfield at times against Oregon State. His PFF tackle rating of 82.9 is by far the highest among anyone on the defensive line and he’s yet to be credited with a missed tackle this season. Meanwhile Tuli has also had some really disruptive moments and the last 3 games he looks more like the player we saw in flashes during the 2019 season. They still absolutely need to get better clogged lanes in run defense. , but at least now there are flashes of what we were hoping to see coming into the year. Which is better than the position being completely invisible like in 2020 and during the first 2 games.

3. The child is well

When bookmaker Radley-Hiles injured his shoulder in the second half against Cal, the Huskies decided to insert Kamren Fabiculanan at nickel. Part of that was because Trent McDuffie wasn’t available either and so Washington’s depth around the corner was really tested. It was reasonable to assume with McDuffie returning to action and Radley-Hiles still out that we would see KamFab take the nickel start with Gordon and McDuffie on the outside. Instead, every time Washington went to their nickel base defense, it was with Kyler Gordon playing in the slot and Mishael Powell on the outside.

Now part of it could be that KamFab ended up getting caught in training last week. There was no mention of his injury by Jimmy Lake after the game or Monday, but after playing at least 19 defensive snaps in each of Washington’s first 4 games, he got his first non-special teams DNP. Which is all the more curious as the incumbent of the post where he was apparently the substitute did not appear in the match due to an injury.

Either way, it’s still interesting that the coaching staff felt their best bet was to move Gordon inside rather than going with someone like Irvin in the slot. Powell didn’t quite have the game in his life or anything, but he did manage a key deep break late in the game, one of the only times Oregon State has tried to stretch the pitch. . For the season, PFF now has Powell for 10 targets on 95 cover shots giving 6 catches for 72 yards. And one of them was a late Cal’s first try that Powell lost his footing as he tried to turn back to the receiver. I certainly haven’t seen enough of Powell to think he’s close to the ceiling of Gordon and McDuffie who are truly special athletes. But in a world where the two could easily make their way to the NFL this spring, it’s good to know that Powell got his feet wet and has some of the coaching staff’s confidence.

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