Washington’s 20-19 loss to Cal on Saturday night was riddled with missed opportunities, and many of them came in the form of dropped passes.
Trailing Cal 17-16 late in the fourth quarter, the Huskies were facing a 3rd-and-11 from the Golden Bears’ 32-yard line. Quarterback Jacob Eason took the snap and zipped a pass to wide receiver Aaron Fuller — but the ball hit Fuller’s hands and then dropped to the Husky Stadium turf, bringing up 4th-and-11.
So instead of continuing a promising drive, UW settled for a 49-yard field goal from Peyton Henry. And even though Henry gave the Huskies a 19-17 lead with 2 minutes and 5 seconds remaining, Cal was able to drive the field and win Saturday’s Pac-12 opener, 20-19, on a 17-yard field goal with 8 seconds left.
Fuller’s drop was one of many for the Huskies’ pass catchers. At least six passes went off the hands of would-be receivers as Eason completed 18-of-31 passes for 162 yards and an interception.
“We got to look at that, look closer,” said UW head coach Chris Petersen. “Jacob has a strong arm and the balls, they come fast. We got to analyze that. We had too many easy drops that they don’t usually make.”
No UW player caught more than four passes. Tight end Hunter Bryant had four receptions for 40 yards while Fuller had four receptions for 40 yards. Eason didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, although he came close in the third quarter on a throw intended for Andre Baccellia in the end zone.
While Baccellia made the catch, he wasn’t able to get a foot down in-bounds. The Huskies had to settle for a field goal that put them up 13-10.
“We need to get our pass game into a better rhythm,” Petersen said. “We were not throwing the ball like we are capable of. We had some drops that stymied us. We ran the ball but we did not move the ball. We need to go back to work and clean some things up.”
A game that featured a 2 hour and 39 minute lightning delay didn’t end without some drama and a little controversy.
The biggest decision? After Christopher Brown Jr. rushed 3 yards to the UW 1-yard line to bring up 4th-and-goal, Petersen waited 8 seconds before calling the Huskies’ final timeout.
“I wish that we called that a little bit sooner,” Petersen said. “I wanted to get them in a stance before I called it.”
Petersen was also asked whether he considered letting Cal score once Chase Garbers 27-yard pass to Kekoa Crawford moved the Golden Bears to UW’s 3-yard line with 1 minute and 25 seconds left in the game.
“We always have that conversation,” Petersen said. “They were running the ball and watching them kick field goals, he had a lower trajectory. It shouldn’t have gotten to that situation, when your back is up against the wall. That was a thought for a second.”
- UW center Nick Harris, who was injured in the first quarter of last week’s season opener and never returned to the game, started against Cal. He had a sizable brace on his left knee.
- Salvon Ahmed rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time in his Husky career. He finished with 119 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
- The 49-yard field goal was a career-best for Henry. “I just didn’t want to put him in a bad position,” Petersen said afterward. “That is a long kick. It was in the grey area. He has been kicking really well in the last couple of weeks. He ironed out his steps in the last weeks of camp, and once he did that, he had really been good. He has good leg strength, that wasn’t the issue. If he can get all lined up, then he can make field goals. It wasn’t a matter of if he was going to get it there. It was just if he was going to be accurate.”
- Redshirt freshman Tuli Letuligasenoa recorded his first career sack during Cal’s second possession of the first quarter. True Laiatu Latu, who shared a sack with Brandon Wellington in the second quarter, also recorded his first career sack.
- The nearly three hour weather delay was the first-such delay for UW at home.