Nick Montana’s first collegiate start did not go according to plan Saturday as the lowly Oregon State Beavers blew out the Washington Huskies 38-21.
Though Montana missed on several key throws, he did about as well as could be expected in limiting turnovers and facilitating the running game. Chris Polk’s Herculean early effort certainly helped in that regard.
But the Washington defense could not give the offense a chance to win the game, allowing the normally stagnant Beavers to rack up 484 yards of total offense.
One very consequential injury for Washington: left guard Colin Tanigawa left in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury and did not return. He’ll undergo tests this week to determine the severity; senior Nick Wood is the relevant backup.
My Nick Holt rant went up yesterday, not a whole lot else to talk about here. To the observations!
Notes and Observations:
- I was very pleased with Steve Sarkisian’s playcalling throughout the game. The early calls had a whole lot of Austin Seferian-Jenkins on easy drags and even more Polk. He periodically sent Jesse Callier in with the Wildcat package, allowing Montana to come out for a play to gather himself. He also dialed up a nice little quadruple option, in which Montana faked the dive to Polk and faked option left with Callier before pitching to a traversing Kevin Smith for a big gain down the near sideline. He even threw in a Statue of Liberty to Bishop Sankey that went for a nice gain. When Sark gets into a playcalling rhythm, the players’ belief in him is noticeable.
- Seferian-Jenkins had a bunch of catches in the first half, including a really nice snatch at the goal line with defenders in position. Less positive: the Kevin Smith-esque third-quarter drop 30 yards downfield with no defender within 30 yards of him.
- The Oregon State defensive line played very uninspired football in the first half, seemingly until they realized they had a real shot at winning the game. Polk ran unhindered in the first half but found the going more difficult later in the game. Redshirt freshman tight end Evan Hudson had some nice lead blocks after motioning into the backfield.
- Callier ran very hard for his 22 yards on three carries and even forced a fumble on a kickoff.
- The Huskies’ interior defense did an excellent job shutting down the inside rush. Beaver running backs averaged just 3.2 yards per carry, as most of the rushing total came on a 56-yard double reverse to Markus Wheaton. The Dawgs’ success against the traditional run game makes the overall defensive struggles that much more perplexing.
- John Timu had a few ups and a lot of downs. He had a couple of nice finishes on plays blown up by Alameda Ta’amu, but I have him unofficially with six missed tackles and two times immediately benched after whiffs. He also seemed out of position several times on drags over the middle, but so did everyone else on the defense.
- Cort Dennison, the Pac-12’s leading tackler by a wide margin, had 11 more stops. Yawn.
- Desmond Trufant is doing everything he can for this defense, but teams just keep picking on Greg Ducre. Where you at, Antavius Sims? Marcus Peters? Tre Watson? Brandon Beaver and Alphonso Marsh?
- Safeties Will Shamburger and Justin Glenn left the game with injuries early on, leaving Nate Fellner to play alongside Sean Parker. Fellner played admirably, with a few nice tackles and a pass deflection. He displayed very poor tackling technique following a Timu whiff on Jovan Stevenson, however, putting his head down and meeting Stevenson helmet-to-helmet. He also could have been flagged on the pass breakup, walloping Wheaton just fractions of a second before the ball’s arrival. That’s exactly the sort of thing that got Fellner benched in the first place.
- Parker was quiet all day save for a red-zone interception with the Huskies down 17-14 in the third quarter.
- Parker’s pick, which came one play after a tip-drill near-interception by Parker and Trufant, was the first in a series of second-half turnovers for both teams. The Huskies couldn’t do anything with the takeaway and punted at their own 25, but Beavers tight end Joe Halahuni immediately fumbled on Oregon State’s first play. John Timu punched it loose and big Danny Shelton jumped on it.
A shanked Erik Folk field goal attempt was followed by a Jovan Stevenson touchdown to make it 24-14 early in the fourth quarter. On the Huskies’ first play after the kickoff, Scott Crichton hit Nick Montana for the strip sack and two plays later, Oregon State was in the end zone again, leading 31-14.
With 11:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, it was time for Keith Price. The injured quarterback tried to do his best Kirk Gibson impression, leading an 85-yard aerial attack culminating with a 20-yard strike to Devin Aguilar to bring the Huskies within 10.
Callier forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and walk-on tailback Cole Sager recovered, setting up the Huskies with momentum at the Oregon State 17. Beavers safety Ryan Murphy immediately intercepted Price on a poorly thrown ball to Kasen Williams, however, and the Beavers drove 99 yards down the field to put the Dawgs away.
- The Huskies didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver until Montana hit Aguilar with under 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. Jermaine Kearse’s first catch came on Price’s touchdown drive. Kasen Williams had three late catches, but Kevin Smith and James Johnson went catchless.
- I noticed two excellent seals by Colin Porter, who is developing into a star at right guard. Senio Kelemete played well, including a nice pancake (ok, it was a full-on tackle, but he got away with it) on the first possession.
- Shelton saw a lot of action in the second half and got absolutely manhandled twice. On one Stevenson run, I assumed the Huskies had gotten caught in a stunt, but replay showed it was just Shelton getting pushed five yards backward. Yikes. Josh Shirley had several pressures on Sean Mannion