BY Art Thiel 01:34AM 11/09/2019

Thiel: Defense revives, but Huskies’ Eason fades

The Huskies defense allowed Oregon State eight yards in the second half, but the 19-7 win was muted by another another mediocre passing game from QB Jason Eason.

Washington TE Hunter Bryant had five catches for 90 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown reception. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest file

On a long, slow slide into ordinariness, the Huskies on defense worked up a glimpse for a brighter future Friday night in Corvallis. On offense, however, Washington looked as if the Cyler Miles era had fallen out of the back of a truck into full view again.

Because Oregon State (4-5, 3-3) was unexpectedly rancid, it was hard to know what to make of the of the 19-7 win (box), except that it was UW’s eighth straight in the series with the Beavers, and coach Chris Petersen set back a decade or two the career of his former assistant, Beavers coach Jonathan Smith.

Entering the game, the Beavers were leading the Pac-12 in third down conversions (49.6 percent), yet managed the feat once in 15 opportunities on third and fourth downs, and were outgained in yards 420-119. They scored 56 points last week against Arizona, yet were scoreless offensively against UW, managing six first downs and 41 yards rushing.

After giving up 399 yards to Utah and 434 to Oregon in their previous two games, both losses, it’s hard to imagine the Huskies defense turned formidable in a week. But it was the #Pac12AfterDark on Friday, where the inexplicable is normal. However mysterious, Petersen was amenable to the uptick.

“They were outstanding,” he said. “Oregon State has a good offense. The game plan put together by (defensive coordinator) Jimmy  Lake was awesome. They were really good at getting pressure on the QB.”

Particularly effective were two young linebackers, Edefuan Ulofoshio, a 6-0, 231-pound redshirt freshman walk-on from Anchorage, and Joe Tryon, a redshirt sophomore from Renton’s Hazen High.

Ulofoshio, who came on in place of injured starter Brandon Wellington, led the Huskies with nine tackles, 1½ sacks and 1½ tackles for loss. Tryon seemed to be everywhere — seven tackles, two sacks and 4.5 TFLs.

“Joe is a long guy (6-5, 262 pounds) who has a burst off the ball,” Petersen said. “He creates problems for QBs. He can bend the edge, and he’s got a spin move. He makes QBs step up, so if we can get a push inside by the big guys, it’s a nice combination.

“Eddie’s done a great job. He’s a guy we’ve liked since he’s been with us. He brings great energy, he’s super bright and works his tail off. It’s starting to show up. The question he asks us in meetings, the work he’s done on special teams, it’s pretty impressive.”

The thin linebackers unit has been the defense’s prime weakness. To shut out the conference’s fourth-highest scoring offense (33 ppg) by giving up eight yards in the second half suggests that the last half of a non-championship season for Washington (6-4, 3-4) has some virtue in terms of player development.

But it’s hard to know whether that will be true for QB Jacob Eason.

He had his worst game as a Husky, against a unit that a year ago was arguably the worst in all BCS, and is upgraded only to mediocre now. A year ago, the Huskies beat the Beavs 42-23 after taking a 28-3 lead at the half. This time, the Huskies were up 10-0 at the half and 13-0 halfway through the third quarter when Eason induced panic among the purples with an interception returned by CB Jaydon Grant for a 36-yard touchdown.

It was the second pick-six in two weeks for Eason, who finished 16 of 32 for 175 yards, two picks and one TD, a 50-yard catch-and-run by TE Hunter Bryant.

“We were completely out of rhythm, for whatever reason, in the passing game,” Petersen said. “We had a chance to go deep with a 50-50 ball an we didn’t get it. We’re jumping too soon.

“I thought the run game did a nice job (245 yards on 48 carries) considering (OSU) was stacking the box so much because we couldn’t really throw it. I don’t know what was going on with that.”

Eason was wild, under-throwing and over-throwing his targets. He wasn’t helped by several drops. Only four receivers caught passes, just two of them wideouts.

With a second bye week at hand, perhaps there will be time for Eason to come to grips with his problems ahead of the final two games against Colorado and Washington State.

If he can’t dominate the Beavers defense, his presumptive spot in the first round of the NFL draft would appear to be on the slide too.


  • 1coolguy

    Until CP wakes up and off’s Hamdan, the QB problems aren’t going away. The guy is a miserable failure as OC and I put 100% of the blame on CP, as he should never have hired Hamdan, then should have let him go after last season. What is CP trying to prove anyway?

    • Effzee

      Obviously, Hamdan was the wrong hire, and many of us slapped our foreheads at the time. But isn’t this CP’s wacky “no philosophy” offense, and Hamden is just trying to run it? What’s that saying about trying to make chicken salad out of chicken…. stuff?

      I hate this offense. Relying on misdirection, deception, incessant pre-snap motion, constantly shifting and playing the numbers game at the line of scrimmage every play as a philosophy of success is not what I call Big Boy Football. That’s stuff you do when you’re Boise State and you want to shock Oklahoma.

      The Huskies play whatever the complere opposite of Smashmouth Football is.

      For shame! 🤬

      • art thiel

        The Huskies did rush for 245 yards, so saying it isn’t smashmouth misses a point. Few schools run the Don James 80s offense any more, not even Stanford. Misdirection is a fundamental aspect of football, and Petersen has taken UW a long way with his playbook. Ahmed is not the same runner as Gaskin, and the O-line without McGary and a diminished Adams, isn’t the same as last year. Plus the pass game is remarkably bad.

        It’s a down year for UW talent.

      • Husky73

        Who is “they” that “murdered” Epstein. The “they” question always seems to be met with crickets.

    • art thiel

      I’m generally skeptical of calls to fire OCs because outsiders can never know what a play call turns into, especially with college kids. But Eason’s mental mistakes suggest a confusion that my well rest with Hamdan’s inability to reach him.

  • jafabian

    A sloppy win by the Dawgs punctuated by a mediocre passing game that was saved by a solid rushing attach. With each game Eason’s game regresses and the pick six only further illustrates his inability to look off the defender. Bryant had a good game but was five of twelve in being targeted. The biggest issue with the team IMO is a lack of senior leadership. The effort is there but the players lose confidence easily. There’s no Steve Emtman yelling at them to get their act together and remind of what it is to be a Dawg. I see heads hung low on the sidelines when things get rough when they should be rallying among each other. Hopefully this game gets things turned around for the team.

    • art thiel

      There is no dominant personality on this defense. Levi O is the the best defender, but not a leader. No BBK/Vea/Gaines/Victor/Baker successors.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    What a weird game! A 56 point offense a week ago gets shut out; Huskies D tackling like the Beavers have built-in handles; Dawgs RB’s can’t be stopped by a loaded box; then a projected 1st round QB can’t hit the broad side of a barn door, and when he finally gets close, the receivers have stubs for hands.

    The number of near misses and dropped passes were so irritating. Maybe more so were the long passes to a tightly covered Bryant, who is a beast once he gets the ball, but is far from Odell Beckham on the catch. Wrong personnel for those plays – so shelve them, fer crying out loud.

    For the drops, I can’t imagine a young receiving crew being wholeheartedly that inept at catching the ball. Honestly, I’m thinking if the passer is crap, putting so little emphasis on accurate throws, why bother raising the bar with over the top receiving. Maybe they are catching down to the passer.

    Jacob Eason a 1st round pick? I can’t even see him getting drafted. What a poor example he sets. It’s too bad. Clearly he’s been put in a position that he’s not capable of handling. Pete needs to do better by his players.

    • art thiel

      Eason isn’t a terrible QB, but he’s Pac12 average right now at best. The arm will take him a long way, but he might have a Sanchez/Cutler ceiling.

      • Husky73

        The UW receiving corp is not good. They don’t get good separation. There are so many drops, and losing Ty Jones (their deep threat and tall receiver) for the season really hurt. At the start of the season, Eason was throwing 60 yards downfield with ease. Last night, every deep ball was under thrown. I’m wondering if there is an injury (like Browning) or fatigue? Almost every school has a down year– Miami, USC, Southern Cal, Florida State, Tennessee, Thiel College (currently 0-8). Washington has lost four games by a total of 20 points. The Huskies have a chance to go 8-4 and win a bowl game. If that’s a down year, I’ll take it.

  • Effzee

    I’m really trying to figure out why Eason is here. We lost two QBs because of him (so far). Are we sure none of the QBs who were already here could have had us at 6-4 right now? If Eason was likely one-and-done when they brought him here, were they expecting him to be like a Vernon Adams, Gardner Minshew type of transfer? Show up, carry the young defense, and light up the scoreboard for a year because there wasn’t an heir apparent to Browning? Adams and Minshew were experienced starters who had successful college seasons behind them already. That’s not what Eason was. Now if Eason comes back, doesn’t it screw up the development of the QB depth chart again? I don’t see how this did Eason or the program any good. Seems like a huge mistake to me. 🤷‍♂️

    • art thiel

      Eason’s arm and his freshman start at GA are why he’s here. But his decision-making is below average. I think UW wishes it had Yankoff as the heir apparent instead of Sirmon.

  • coug73

    Saw about 15 minutes of the game, fell asleep and went back and forth watching the Husky basketball game. Are short, shorts a new/old trend now?

    No defense for Eason, he needs to be better, period.

    Dawg receiving corp is mediocre for the most part. No fight in them dogs, can’t fetch, and too many dropped balls.

    The defensive looked solid and physical. The best performance I’ve seen by this unit.

    OSU football has made big strides this year. This team has a chance at playing in the postseason.

    Whoo, the Husky’s are bowl eligible.

    • art thiel

      C’mon now, gotta stay awake before passing such heavy judgments. It’s a mandatory minimum.

      • coug73

        True, not a break down of film, but you know I’m right.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Eason’s arm is ready for the next level. The rest of his game is not.

    • Husky73

      Eason has arm talent and physicality, but he needs more trickeration and escapeability, not to mention better receivers’ catchability in third and manageable situations.

  • Husky73

    The Cougars are now 4-5. Funny, I don’t hear fans/critics calling for Leach’s firing, or for the rolling heads of his coordinators.

    • Howard Wells

      why would Husky fans want Leach fired? We want them to continue losing to us. However the Coogs may still have enough to overcome our bumbling offense.