A homecoming game. Throwback uniforms. A bye week. A national championship salute. The Dawg Walk. No wind or rain in mid-October. The return of Zion Tupuola-Fetui.
Jimmy Lake's University of Washington football team had all sorts of reasons to be ready to play the UCLA Bruins on Saturday night at Husky Stadium, but none of it mattered.
After six games, the UW (2-4 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) has been exposed as a bad football team, one now counting only victories over a decidedly mediocre 1-5 California team in overtime and an even worse 1-5 Arkansas State team, with the miserable 0-6 Arizona Wildcats next up on the schedule.
The bad news for the Huskies (2-4 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) is they're running out of patsies with six games to go.
A half-dozen outings usually is a pretty good barometer for demonstrating what works and what doesn't.
To commemorate the one-play return against UCLA of No. 6 Richard Newton, a supposedly superior running back who's done almost nothing this season, and defensive No. 6 Cam Williams, who was on the sideline in a knit cap and street clothes dealing with an apparent injury, here are six fairly straightforward observations about these Huskies.
The Huskies once more lost the battle at the line of scrimmage. Both sides. They were soft. Pillsbury Doughboy soft. Charmin tissue soft.
UCLA backs ran through gaping holes as Bob Gregory's defense continually was out of position and pushed off the ball. All game long, the Huskies continually shuffled defensive linemen in and out of the lineup looking for someone, anyone, who could make a tackle. True freshman Voi Tunuufi drew as many snaps in the second half as he has all season.
Offensively, Ulumoo Ale pulled his first start of the season at left guard, replacing Julius Buelow, and he seemed to do OK. However, the right side of the line repeatedly broke down with guard Henry Bainivalu missing several blocks and tackle Victor Curne penalized for a false start.
The Husky D-line gave up 237 yards rushing while the other side struggled with its blocking to generate only 83 yards rushing.
At 2-4 and with games against Oregon, Stanford and ASU still left to play, the Huskies appeared headed for a 5-7 season at best, which would mean no postseason play for the second consecutive season.
The sixth-year senior running back was one of the few positives that came out of the 24-17 loss to UCLA. He led the Huskies in rushing with 80 yards on 9 carries, or 8.9 yards per rush. He didn't lose a yard. He had consecutive runs of 32 and 15. He hurdled an opponent. He has a season high of a dozen carries at Oregon State. Start him for the first time this season and give him at least 20 totes in a game to see what he can do. The guy makes plays.
Give true freshman Sam Huard a game or two to see what he can do, whether as the starter or coming off the bench. QB-1 Dylan Morris, previously advertised as a guy who doesn't make mistakes, had made quite a few this season. Also, he's not been very accurate throwing the ball deep, which is something Huard does very well. With this season a bust, let the young guy share the workload or take it over. What could it hurt?
As a sign of the instability at safety this season, the Huskies started Turner instead of Williams, making him the fifth different player to open a game in one of the two spots across the UW back row. Whatever happened to season-opening regulars Julius Irvin and Kamren Fabiculanan? Turner supplied 6 tackles against the Bruins, admittedly the weaker part of his game, but he got beat for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies used Zion Tupuola-Fetui for about a dozen plays in his debut game after bringing him back from an Achilles tendon tear on an accelerated pace. He put UCLA blockers on their heels and made the opposing quarterback uncomfortable, stuff not generated by his teammates.
While the UW coaching staff must be overly careful not to overdue it with ZTF and leave him open to re-injury, it needs this guy's presence in the lineup as much as possible. He's a game-changer where there are few on this team.
Against UCLA, the Huskies collected no fumbles or interceptions in a game for the third time in six outings. Ouch.
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