Evan Weaver has a way with words.
On Saturday evening, in the wake of Cal’s underwhelming 27-13 win over UC Davis, the senior linebacker sat on an elevated stage and radiated disappointment. His cheeks rosy red, his blond hair slicked neatly back, he leaned into a microphone and spewed molten lava.
“We played horrible,” Weaver said. “As a whole group, as a defense – I can’t speak for the offense – but for us, we played horrible. We weren’t ready. But we will be ready next Saturday. You can believe that. But right now, it’s not looking good.
“But we’ll get it right tomorrow in the film room, Monday, Tuesday, all the way till Friday, and then we’ll fly up there … and we’ll beat ‘em Saturday. That’s what we do. We win games. We figure it out. No matter what the score is, it’s still a win.”
Before we go further, a couple quick clarifications:
1.) When Weaver says the Cal defense played “horrible,” the statistics disagree. The Golden Bears allowed just 83 rushing yards and 2.8 yards per carry, to go along with 181 passing yards and 52.6 percent completions. Weaver, for his part, chipped in 11 tackles after posting 159 of them last fall. So this was hardly a catastrophic collapse.
2.) When Weaver says they’ll fly “up there,” he’s referring to Washington. He’s also referring to his home state. The former three-star linebacker from Spokane signed with Cal after failing to receive a UW offer. OK, now I think we’re all caught up.
Predictably, the social media response in and around Seattle was significant. The phrase “bulletin board material” may have trended in the 206. Without a doubt, Weaver’s words oozed through the doors of the athletic department at Washington.
we’ll beat ‘em … we’ll beat ‘em … we’ll beat ‘em … we’ll beat em …
Just don’t expect Chris Petersen to return a verbal volley.
“We don’t pay attention to that,” UW’s sixth-year head coach said on Monday. “Everything’s captured these days, so it doesn’t matter, you know? It just matters how we play. We have enough issues with ourselves just to take care of. We’re not worried about that stuff, and that’s the truth.”
Since we’re on the subject, who’s ready for a little more truth?
Truth: Cal upset Washington 12-10 inside Memorial Stadium in Berkeley on Oct. 27, 2018.
Truth: Weaver led his team with 11 tackles and returned an interception 37 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Truth: Washington completed 48 percent of its passes, surrendered a pair of interceptions and averaged 2.8 yards per carry in defeat.
So, with all that said, should bulletin board material really matter? Shouldn’t the Huskies already have all the motivation they’ll ever need? This after all, is Washington’s Pac-12 opener — in Husky Stadium, no less, where the home team has won 15 consecutive games. It’s an opportunity for a new quarterback and crop of defensive contributors to prove their worth in prime time. It’s also an opportunity to avenge the team’s ugliest loss from 2018.
Weaver’s words were incendiary, sure, and there’s little doubt that the Huskies heard them. But a pregame prediction won’t decide this game. If Washington wins, it’ll be because quarterback Jacob Eason diced up a formidable Cal secondary; because an experienced offensive line paved the way for running backs Salvon Ahmed and Richard Newton; because that young, talented defense continued to collectively grow; because Myles Bryant and Elijah Molden preyed on Cal quarterback Chase Garbers’ errant passes; because the Huskies were better, plain and simple.
Besides, who even owns a bulletin board anymore? The term is outdated — and, in this case, the inspiration is unnecessary.