This weekend, I was a house guest of Rex Steele, and on Saturday we were desperate to locate the PAC 12 network. He thought the channel was included in one of his streaming services, but it wasn’t, and then there was some messiness with the internet. I frantically checked my twitter feed and saw that the Huskies had opened the game with a crisp three and out. I muttered, “My prophecy is coming to glorious fruition!” Desperation to locate the PAC 12 network intensified.
Halfway through the Red Wolves vs Huskies first quarter, we were both content to view the proceedings via Twitter while watching the Memphis Tigers – those hated, horrible Tigers – go claw-to-paw with the Mississippi State Bulldogs. My advice to the PAC 12: learn to ESPN like the rest of us.
Meanwhile, the first quarter ended with the Red Wolves down two TDs. I put on a brave tweet:
But let’s face it: something wasn’t right about the Red Wolves. The first three offensive drives resulted in a punt, punt, missed field goal. Conversely, after the opening three-and-out, Washington executed a pair of 80+ yard scoring drives, all punctuated by big pass plays against the A-State secondary. It didn’t help that the Huskies received the services of standout tailback Sean McGraw, missing for two weeks. It didn’t help that the Washington coaching staff was coaching for their jobs. But it was also clear that the Red Wolves weren’t going to help themselves.
By slaughter’s end, the Red Wolves racked up more penalty yards than rush yards. Lincoln Pare, once again largely ignored at running back, lead the team with 69 (sigh, “nice”) receiving yards. Kivon Bennet recorded the lone sack and TFL. James Blackman, so brilliant against Memphis last week, finished a dismal 16 of 38 passing. To add insult to insult, Layne Hatcher coughed up the ball with less than 4 minutes left to grant Washington a 72 yard finishing blow.
What the hell was that?
Postgame, Coach Butch Jones said, “It’s all on me,” and sure, that’s the grim responsibility the head coach needs to assume. But this is also a team that never got off the plane in Seattle. Nine possessions ended in punts. The secondary, burned all game long, surrendered 367 yards and three TDs to a quarterback who had thrown one touchdown pass all season. (Sadly, the Red Wolves are back to rewarding opposing quarterbacks with their best games of the season.) There is very little positive to bring back from the West Coast other than a nice seafood dinner and a Space Needle snowglobe.
Earlier this week, I saw the betting line at -17 Red Wolves and responded with a 50-17 prediction in favor of Arkansas State. But there is clearly a mountain of work left for Butch Jones and his staff to do before we see a competitive Red Wolves team again. The secondary is still a mess. The front line isn’t putting up nearly enough pressure. And let’s just not talk about the run game. It doesn’t exist.
At least the quarterback situation is – oh wait, neither Blackman or Hatcher have demonstrated an ability to deliver four quarters of offense. The west coast trip, outside of a bodybag cheque, was a complete waste of time.
By the way, Memphis won that game against Mississippi State. Next Saturday, the Red Wolves take on a Tulsa team that competed brilliantly, albeit in a loss, against Ohio State. At the moment, it appears that Red Wolves football is as capable at playing competitively as I am at prognosticating outcomes.
PHOTO CREDIT: It me