Yesterday, Matthew wrote a few thoughts on the Huskies victory on Saturday night. It was a great night and the stadium was everything I hoped it would be. We plan to do a further review on the stadium, complete with pictures, after this weekend. This post is all about the game. I wrote about 3 pages worth of notes on the game while watching the replay and tried to go pretty in-depth. With that being said, I’m not sure how to format this so bear with me as I try to figure it out. If I get to continue doing this for every game, these posts will get better every week.
For now, I think I will just go with a few main stats on the offensive side of the ball and then lots of bullet points. My numbers are a tiny bit off (I must have missed a play here or there) but they are only a yard or two off in places. Enjoy!
I don’t think anyone is questioning the move to the no-huddle offense after that performance. The offense did go more to spread concepts, although Sark said they may not use those as much when ASJ plays. The quarterbacks didn’t take a single snap under center, it was all in shotgun or pistol. Double tight-end sets were used on multiple occasions and a fullback was used in 3 or 4 drives. One interesting formation was with Price lined up in the pistol and two tight ends (Perkins and Hartvigson) would both line up on the same side of the line. The Dawgs had a good bit of success running behind that formation. Both tight ends did a good job of getting to the second level and making blocks all game long.
While it looked like a completely different offense, it wasn’t. All of these were things that Sark had used in previous years just not to the extent of what they did Saturday night. Easy throws, a staple of the spread, were a common occurrence on Saturday night although they didn’t do that as much as I had thought when initially watching. About 35% of Price’s throws were behind the line of scrimmage.
These passes behind the line of scrimmage almost always worked. I only counted one pass behind the line of scrimmage that ended up in a loss of yards. On the first Husky touchdown drive, the Huskies faced a 3rd and 9 in which Price threw to Mickens 3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He took it for a 12 yard gain and a big first down.
Boise didn’t shift a lot when the Huskies sent guys in motion (which was often). Usually the linebackers would shuffle over but nothing more. Boise was commonly in a zone and the Huskies took advantage of that. Our wide receivers were well prepared in who to block in what formation.
The running game was fantastic all night. There was a good balance of running and throwing in the offense and a pretty good balance of which direction the team would run. These numbers are a big trivial but I had the Huskies gaining 47% of their rushing yards running to the left side, 27% to the right side, and 26% up the middle. I’m guessing a big reason for this is that Boise’s star defensive end, Demarcus Lawrence, lined up on the right side of the line so the Huskies ran away from him. I’ll be interested to see if these numbers keep up in the next few games.
The pass blocking was very good as well. Riva constantly dealt with Lawrence and he hardly sniffed Price. Hatchie wasn’t noticed at left tackle, which was a good thing. The offensive line was clearly in good shape and played well throughout the night. Yes, Price got rid of the ball quickly but he threw down the field a few times and had plenty of time in those situations. The one sack the Huskies did give up was on Price, as he could have stayed in the pocket much longer.
Speaking of Price, he played a fantastic game. When throwing downfield, his receivers would find holes in the zone and sit in them, Price would almost always find these guys. I counted Price throwing the ball more than 20 yards downfield 4 times. One sailed over the head of Ross and the Boise safety. Another pass was completed to Smith on a beautiful throw that fit right between the corner and safety who seemed to be playing a cover two. The other throws were in succession to Kasen. The first was a back shoulder throw that was perfectly placed. Following that came a touchdown in which Kasen found himself wide open. Why was he wide open? The safety bit on a slant route that was really a slant and go. Why did he bite on it? Maybe because, up until that point Kasen had been targeted by Price 3 times. 2 of those times had been on slant routes. All in all, Price finished 3/4 on balls that he threw 20 yards+ downfield. You could count his touchdown pass to Perkins as another but that was right on the border of 20 yards.
In the first half, Price managed the game. In the second half, Price controlled the game. Both of these were effective but, obviously, he was the better player in the second half. He created more plays without forcing them. Even if Price just manages the game, I think this team will be successful.
A few more thoughts on the offense:
- Ross and Mickens were fantastic. They will both be a handful to cover for everyone involved.
- Deontae Cooper’s first carry was negated by a chop block penalty. In watching the replay, that looked like a really bad call. From what I saw, all of the other penalties looked to be right. (More on Cooper later this week).
- On the second touchdown drive of the second half Boise put subs in to get their guys some rest. The Huskies absolutely ran them over. There wasn’t a gain of less than 6 yards on that drive until the starters came back in for Boise.
- Dwayne Washington looked great and just ran over some guys. Him and Bishop could be a very good combo this year.
Defensive Thoughts: It’s been stated by Sark and Wilcox that the defense’s goal was to keep everything in front of them for this game. They did a good job of that. The corners weren’t beat (Peters was beat by a step in the 4th quarter but it would have taken a perfect throw to get the ball to him. Southwick overthrew him by a ways) and neither were the safeties. Even the linebackers kept the short stuff in front of them. The linebackers were content on letting Boise have those passes and then hitting guys right when they caught it. There was hardly any yards after catch for Boise receivers.
The defensive line was much better than I initially thought after watching the replay. Yes, Boise pushed them back sometimes in running situations but there usually weren’t any gaping holes, just good running by the Broncos. Shelton and Kikaha each played very good games and were active. Hudson seemed to do well in his first start on the defensive side of the ball and Wilcox has said as much since the game.
The rush end spot did a little bit more than what we saw last year out of it. Corey Littleton, the starter at that spot, dropped back into coverage several times when the Huskies were in zone and he even lined up over some slot receivers a few times.
The defense was effective in switching between zone and man coverage all game. The corners did a great job in man coverage. Many times the Huskies would rush five and bring Shamburger down in man coverage. This would leave Parker as the one guy back in the defense as safety. He, again, didn’t let anyone by him and obviously had the great ball-hawking interception.
Matthew said Parker might have saved the season with that interception. My choice for that distinction goes to Marcus Peters. With Boise facing a 3rd and goal from the Huskies 4, down by 7 in the 3rd quarter, Peters knocked away a slant route that would have gone for a touchdown. This held the Broncos to a field goal and the Huskies took over on the next drive.
The defense was great and moved side-to-side very well. Defending side-to-side plays and screens seems to have been a real emphasis for Wilcox since taking over and the Huskies did a good job of defending those plays. It seemed like there were hardly any blown assignments and everyone was focused on doing their job.
I think that’s about it for now. If you have any questions or anything to add, put it in the comments.