)One would think that the Huskies 45-3 blowout win against lowly, FCS opponent North Dakota would be enough to say, "Yeah, they took care of business". You could also say that the Seahawks 27-24 loss against the Denver Broncos was another typical competitive, heart-stopping and disappointing close game in which the Seahawks just missed out on more opportunity. Although both statements are accurate, the Huskies and Seahawks played to the opposite of what the scoreboard showed. The Huskies are poised to return to the CFP and represent the lowly Pac-12 in it, while the Seahawks are filled with new, fresh young faces that are going to take their lumps all season long.
Let's start with the Huskies...
I was live and in-person for my first game sitting in the Young Alumni section at Husky Stadium where I was expecting the Dawgs to blow this one out byBut halftime. They were only up 17-0 by halftime. Jake Browning didn't play like a fourth year starter as he threw two Interceptions (he could've easily thrown three or four) and finished 23/37 for 313 yards with two TDs too. The other fourth year starter, Myles Gaskin-who has had a history of starting off slow-ran for one TD, with only 53 yards on 15 carries.
I'll give a little more leniency towards Gaskin as the biggest issue with me from this game was the Offensive Line. The O-Line didn't give Gaskin many holes to run through and struggled with North Dakota's D-Line. However, even when the O-Line held up and gave Browning time to throw, some of his decisions were atrocious. Browning continued to make head-scratching plays and has not shown much through two games. Even the rest of the Dawgs have not fully played up to the standards that Chris Petersen demands. The fact that the Huskies had five penalties resulting in 45 yards and North Dakota didn't commit a single penalty throughout the whole game shows a lot.
You must respect every opponent that you play, whether they're top-tier teams like Auburn or Alabama, or FCS teams like North Dakota or Portland State. North Dakota came into Husky Stadium thinking they would upset the Dawgs. Although the scoreboard read 45-3, the Fighting Hawks gave everything they could and lost to the Huskies who were clearly not on their A-game. Either UW was still feeling the hangover of last week against Auburn, or played down to their opponent (which is something you should never do). When the starters came out, young guys like backup QB Jake Haener and RB Kamari Pleasant really showed their talents. We'll probably see more of Pleasant this year than Haener, but the "bench Jake Browning" crowd got more fuel added to their fire as they watched him go 7/7 on 110 yards with a TD. Browning is not getting benched at all...no matter how mediocre he plays this year, he's going to get better as it's only been two games.
As for those Seahawks...
As long as Pete Carroll is coaching, the Seahawks are going to play every game to the very last second and will always win by less than a TD or lose by less than a TD. It was another Seahawks-like performance, but Russell Wilson couldn't get into clutch mode at the end as they fell 27-24. Sure, there were many flaws: Sebastian Janikowski missed a FG early that would've had the game tied at the end, the pass rush was horrendous as they only sacked Keenum once and the O-Line (and Germain Ifedi especially) was awful as Russell was sacked six times.
The reason why I came away from this game optimistic is because of this 2018 Rookie class. TE Will Dissly (Go Dawgs) who looked like a man possessed on three catches, one of which looked a little Beast Mode-esqe. LB Shaquem Griffin had some ups and downs this game, but he looked really comfortable in place of injured LB K.J. Wright. CB Tre Flowers gave up quite a few yards, but his length and agility really gave him an edge in this game and he can only get better from here, watch out for this kid over the years. Most importantly...Michael f**king Dickson! This might sound horrible, but I'm quite excited to see the Hawks punt the ball a lot as this kid can pin opponents deep, and he didn't waste any time in his first official game. Dickson punted six times with an average of 59 net yards and had the ball inside the 20 four times. Considering how average this defense should be this year, Dickson's ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory is a weapon that only the Seahawks are lucky to have.
The rest of the starters gave me a reason to smile after the game (ask my girlfriend, it took me a while to get over this loss as I hate starting the year off with an L). Earl Thomas decided to show up and caught an Interception real early, Chris Carson is only in his second year, but hurdled a Broncos defender and looked outstanding, despite only getting 7 carries (no bueno), and even though Baldwin went down with a sprained MCL, Lockett and Brandon Marshall looked like they can handle the load if Baldwin has to miss a week or two. My prediction was 10-6 for these guys, and I still feel okay about that considering they'll be in every game they play this year. These young studs might have struggled in their first official game, but they can only get better from here on out.
Predictions for next week!
If the Huskies show up to Utah playing the way they did against North Dakota, we'd already have to be talking about one of the most disappointing Husky teams in recent memory just three games in. My hope is that the Dawgs were looking past North Dakota and were already ready for their first conference game against Utah. As for the Hawks, they play on Monday Night in Chicago and while I don't see the Bears as being too much of a threat, the boys better study and look over that week 1 film. There's a lot to learn from in that Denver game, but I know Pete is going to get these guys fired up for MNF in hopes that they cleaned up mistakes and learn from what went wrong in Denver.