Jacob Eason gets the attention.
But take a look at the Washington offensive line.
That group — complete with three seniors in left tackle Trey Adams, center Nick Harris and right tackle Jared Hilbers — did its job in Saturday’s 52-20 win over Hawaii, clearing the way for 190 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry and four rushing touchdowns. Eason was sacked just once on the night.
And what happens when Eason — a 6-foot-6, 227-pound junior and Georgia transfer — has time to operate in the pocket?
Highlights happen. Eason completed 18 of 25 passes (72 percent) for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
In his own words, everything clicked.
“When they’re doing their job, it allows me to do my job and the receivers to do their job,” Eason said of his offensive line. “That’s when everything clicks. I’m proud of those guys. They’ve been battling this whole year. They’re doing a great job, and they’re a great group of guys up there too. It’s just fun to be behind those guys, and I have a lot of trust in them.”
It’s fun for UW’s running backs, too. Junior running back Salvon Ahmed led the way with 83 rushing yards on just eight carries, while adding two catches for 13 yards. Redshirt freshman Richard Newton continues to be a red-zone terror, and the 210-pounder added touchdowns of 8, 1 and 5 yards Saturday.
“I think everybody sees what we see,” said UW coach Chris Petersen. “He puts his pads down and he runs hard. I’m anxious to put this tape on for a couple reasons, for a couple guys to really look at, and he’s one of them. With the running backs, it’s always hard for us to tell exactly what they’re seeing or not seeing on the field. But Rich runs hard, and he ends up finding the end zone.”
On Saturday, Sean McGrew found the end zone as well. The 5-7, 186-pound junior skirted up the middle for a 22-yard score and finished with a workmanlike 63 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
For a physically small back, he ran, well, physical.
“I think it’s honestly just getting the opportunities,” McGrew said. “I’ve always been a tough runner, and I’ve always prided myself on being a tough runner because I’m a smaller back and a lot of people don’t think I break a lot of tackles. But it’s definitely something I pride myself on, being a tough guy.”
The best yet for Hunter Bryant?
Washington junior tight end Hunter Bryant — who finished with five catches for 115 yards and a 47-yard touchdown, his most receiving yards in a game since Oct. 7, 2017 — says he’s the best he’s ever been.
But the reason why might surprise you.
“I say that because I think I’m a lot better blocker now than I was,” Bryant said. “I think that takes my game to the next level. That’s what makes me really happy. When I make good blocks, now I get really happy about that and I feel really good about it and I’m able to work with the O-line and the running backs and be a part of that whole thing. That’s really what I’m focused on right now.”
Still, it’s easy for everyone else to focus on the 47-yard touchdowns up the seam.
And that’s not just true of the fans.
“Obviously look at the guy,” Eason said. “He’s a specimen and he’s a great possession receiver, but he’s also a tight end that can make plays when he has the ball in his hands too. So just getting that guy the rock, it’s nice to know he’s on your side.”
Dealing with the conditions
Obviously there were no lightning delays or downpours during the game on Saturday.
But Eason said after the game he still needed to adjust to the wind gusts swirling inside Husky Stadium.
“There was a couple of those bubble screens I threw today where I think throwing towards the basketball arena side had a little effect today (with the wind),” he said. “But we play in it all the time, so it can’t have that big of an effect. At some points it did today, but that’s something we’ll work on in practice.
“I know the weather’s not going to get that much better from here on out. It’s just reps in that environment that will get that done.”
Eason’s pointing at you
It’s worth noting that Eason cut the pointer finger on his throwing hand on a Hawaii player’s helmet during the game. He said the UW trainers put “something sticky” on it and the junior QB didn’t miss a play.