When you think of the term “bully,” what usually comes to mind? A person who takes advantage of a seemingly weaker individual, whether it be through self esteem or physical stature to make themselves feel more superior. It’s fair to look at the Stanford Cardinal offensive line in that light, especially in Pac-12 North play. They would beat up, step on and push around their opponents to dominate the line of scrimmage to establish the running game and protect their quarterback. What usually happens when you stand up to the bully? When you fight back, beat them and confuse them at their own game? They tend to crumple,run away, or get confused. They generally back off. That’s what happened to the Stanford Friday night in Seattle against Washington. The Huskies were able to win the battle of the trenches, leading to a 44-6 rout over Stanford.
It’s not a secret that you have to try to contain Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, but it has been virtually impossible to do up to this point in two seasons. Washington must have found the code to locking him up. Who would have thought that the Huskies would hold McCaffrey to only 79 offensive yards (rushing and receiving)? I would have never predicted it.
Washington is not known for blitzing, and they needed to do just that against Stanford. Most teams blitz against the passing game, the Huskies chose to change that up and attack Stanford’s run game. Sending extra bodies to muddle up the backfield, limiting the cut back lanes for McCaffery and company.
The Stanford O-line has always been stout, but the Huskies front four made them look bite sized. They would get eight sacks on the day, six in the first quarter. All of this with a four man rush from Washington.
If you haven’t seen Washington play before, probably wouldn’t think they were capable of putting these kinds of numbers up against a team like Stanford.
Speed kills a defense most of the time and inexperience can be a detriment. The Cardinals were without their top two corners Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder. Washington took advantage of replacements Alameen Murphy and Terrence Alexander. Huskies receivers John Ross III and Dante Pettis were able to get separation and the offensive of line gave quarterback Jake Browning plenty of time to find them for easy completions. The threat of their speed had Ross and Pettis playing off coverage. Whenever they pressed, the Washington pass catchers were able to beat them. Browning was 15-21 for 210 with three touchdowns in the air. It could have been more if the running game wasn’t so dynamic.
Of the two teams on the field, it’s easier to expect a big game out of Stanford which is led by McCaffery. Instead, the Washington defense allowed just 29 yards on the ground. While the Huskies trio of running backs Myles Gaskins, Lavon Coleman and Jomon Dotson combined for 204 and three touchdowns.
The bully has been kicked out of the yard and the Huskies are now the top dog in the Pac-12. It’s been 25 years since the Huskies have had a undefeated season and they won a share of the national title with the Miami Hurricanes. There is no sharing of national titles anymore. But Huskies fans have great reason to be hopeful for a chance at a playoff berth if they continue to play the way they are playing.