With a couple of days to digest the 24-7 loss to Alabama, we look back at how the Washington Huskies did and more specifically, where they went wrong.
Before the game on Saturday, I listed the four keys to the Washington Huskies beating Alabama. However, after scoring the first touchdown of the game, it was all Crimson Tide after that, with the Huskies going on to lose 24-7 in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
It was a steady diet of Bo Scarbrough and turnovers that eventually doomed the Huskies. Scarbrough ran 19 times for 180 yards and two scores, including a back-breaking 68-yard run at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Needless to say, the Huskies did not stick to my guide to getting a win. Let’s re-evaluate how the Huskies did on Saturday:
Key #1: Score touchdowns in the first half
More specifically, the Huskies needed to score touchdowns in the red zone, not field goals. The Crimson Tide historically have tightened up on defense as the game wears on, leaving a crack in the window during the first half.
We saw how stingy the Alabama defense becomes as the game wore on. The Huskies did not cross the 50 again after their touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, when the issue was no longer in doubt.
I will give the Huskies credit for being one for one in scoring touchdowns in the red zone in the first half. The problem was actually getting back to the red zone.
Key #2: Stay on schedule
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The Alabama defense thrives on getting a team in third and long situations. The Huskies were in 3rd and 7 or longer seven times during the game.
This allowed Alabama to pin their ears back and get after Jake Browning. This disrupted the rhythm and schedule of the Huskies’ offense.
Browning was sacked five times, which will get your offense off schedule real quick. The Dawgs had trouble keeping the Tide’s dominant front seven out of its backfield.
Key #3: Win field position
The punters were to play a big role in how this game went. Alabama had optimal starting position in most of their drives.
The Crimson Tide averaged starting on their 34 yard line. It also helped to force three turnovers, one being returned for a score.
Washington punter Tristan Vizcaino held his own, punting eight times and averaging just under 47 yards, including a 65-yard boot.
However, the punt of the day came from Browning. who pinned Alabama at their own two-yard line. The Huskies gave Alabama too many short fields with turnovers.
Key #4: Feed John Ross
I even went as far as saying they needed to get Ross 10 touches to try and get him out in space and also beat ‘Bama vertically. If the game plan was to get Ross the ball, the pass rush was so fierce that it did not matter.
Ross got five touches for only 28 yards. He also returned three kicks for a total of 47 yards.
Ross was not as big of a factor as I am sure the Huskies would have liked. Alabama did a good job taking away some of their opponent’s best weapons.
Overall, It was tough sledding for the Huskies, much due to turnovers – any team that is -3 in the turnover margin has a pretty good chance of losing the game. Alabama did what they do best and that is scoring on defense and squeezing the life out of opponents. That pick-six to end the first half was the back-breaker.