Huskies Insider Blog

Tale of the tape: Washington 17, Hawaii 16

FROM HONOLULU -- That was ugly. But the general vibe from players after Washington's 17-16 slog-fest of a victory over Hawaii was that, hey, they won.

"I'm just happy we got the win," quarterback Jeff Lindquist said. "But we've got a lot of things to clean up."

They do. Let's take a look at our tale of the tape summary.

PLAYER OF THE GAME -- I see two candidates here: sophomore receiver John Ross, because he scored both of the team's touchdowns, a 20-yard score on a reverse pitch in the first half, and then a 91-yard touchdown reception on by far Lindquist's best throw of the game. Ultimately, you have to give him the nod, because the Huskies probably don't win the game without him. But redshirt freshman running back Lavon Coleman deserves his due, too. He was mostly bottled up until the final drive, but when the Huskies needed someone to get the ball past the first-down marker, it was Coleman who took care of business. To be sure, the offensive line opened up some big holes for him on that last series, in which he carried six times for 37 yards, including a diving effort on 3rd-and-9 to extend the ball past the sticks and send the Huskies into kneel-down territory. Coleman finished with 78 yards on 17 carries, perhaps gaining a leg up in the competition at running back. Honorable mention: Danny Shelton, who finished with 12 tackles, two sacks and three tackles for loss. Those are pretty big numbers for a nose tackle.

PLAY OF THE GAME -- Ross' touchdown catch was certainly the flashiest highlight, but there were a handful of strong individual efforts down the stretch that helped preserve UW's lead. Marcus Peters blew up a 3rd-and-10 screen pass from Ikaika Woolsey to Joey Iosefa on Hawaii's final possession, forcing a punt with 2:40 to play. Coleman had the aforementioned diving effort to pick up UW's final first down. Pick one of those.

STAT OF THE GAME -- Lindquist completed just 3-of-15 passing for 28 yards in the second half.

QUOTABLE -- "Certainly, as a team, we didn’t play nearly like we think we can play. I think it’s going to be a big wake-up call. It’s just hard to win games against anybody. That’s the point that we’re trying to make to our guys. We come over here in this environment, especially early in the season, everybody’s got mojo and it showed up. Then we’ve just got to be more consistent.” -- UW coach Chris Petersen

WHAT IT MEANS -- In the first game under a new coaching staff with a new quarterback in a far-from-home locale, some jitters are expected. But I don't think anyone expected the Huskies' offense to struggle this badly against a team that a year ago ranked 115th nationally in total defense. Hawaii certainly seems to have improved, and you can see why there is belief in Honolulu that they can win a lot more games in Norm Chow's third year as coach. Their running back, Joey Iosefa, gave the Huskies trouble at times, carrying 30 times for 143 yards for an average of 4.8. Ikaika Woolsey was versatile and smart with his decisions, avoiding turnovers despite a pretty solid UW pass rush that netted three sacks and a couple throwaways. Against a young Huskies secondary that started a true freshman (Budda Baker) and a sophomore (Kevin King) at safety, plus a redshirt freshman (Jermaine Kelly) at one of the cornerback spots, a few breakdowns were to be expected. But the defense isn't really the biggest concern coming out of this one. Washington's inability to throw the ball in the second half almost cost it the game -- though as Petersen said, that's probably not all on Lindquist, despite how lost he looked at times -- and it was probably fair to expect the Huskies to run the ball significantly better than they did (they finished with 174 yards on 48 carries, and 37 of those yards came on the final possession). As Petersen said, the urgency displayed by the offensive line on the last drive is what they needed all game. They're fortunate they didn't have to lose to learn that lesson.

UP NEXT -- A home game next Saturday against Eastern Washington, the No. 1-ranked team in the FCS. The Eagles improved to 2-0 today with a 41-9 victory over Montana Western. Believe this: if the Huskies play the way they did tonight against Eastern, they might not be breathing sighs of relief afterward.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple