The Washington Huskies have a quarterback.
They’ve also got a win.
In a 47-14 victory over Eastern Washington, all UW junior Jacob Eason did was set a Husky record for passing yards in a starting debut.
Here are three impressions from UW’s season-opening win.
Eason’s dominant debut
Eason waited two days shy of two years in between college starts.
This was worth the wait.
After beating out sophomore Jake Haener to win Washington’s starting quarterback job in fall camp, the Georgia transfer showed why on Saturday. Eason completed 27 of 36 passes for 349 yards and four touchdowns — which, by the way, set a school record for passing yards in a starting debut. He dropped a 50-yard touchdown into the waiting arms of wide receiver Andre Baccellia. He fired a 10-yard strike to Chico McClatcher for another score. He found senior Aaron Fuller for fluttering, twisting, back-shoulder touchdowns — twice.
In all, he led a total of six touchdown drives in the first three quarters.
Perhaps most impressive, Eason displayed a mastery of Washington’s offensive playbook on Saturday — despite the fact that he split first-team reps with Haener throughout August practices. He found a total of seven different receivers — led by Baccellia, Fuller and tight end Hunter Bryant with five catches apiece. He went deep; he got the ball out of hand on screens; he checked down; he rolled out, created time and improvised. He was accurate. He was poised. In other words, he was as advertised.
But, with all that said: the real tests lie ahead, starting with Cal’s stout secondary at Husky Stadium next Saturday.
The first impression was, well, impressive.
Now let’s see about a sequel.
Husky defense dials up pressure
How did UW plan to slow down the Eastern Washington Eagles on Saturday?
By blitzing, and blitzing, and blitzing, and blitzing.
Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake’s crew brought pressure from the very beginning — particularly with the linebackers. Even so, the team’s four sacks came exclusively from defensive linemen and outside linebackers; senior Benning Potoa’e had two (after finishing with one total sack last season), and Ryan Bowman and Josiah Bronson each added one.
A heavy rotation of defensive linemen saw the field on Saturday, and that was also true on the second level. Inside linebackers Brandon Wellington, Kyler Manu, Jackson Sirmon and M.J. Tafisi all played heavily.
In the secondary, guess what? Senior safety Myles Bryant and junior nickelback Elijah Molden looked like Washington’s best players.
Special teams steps up
Washington’s special teams left something to be desired last season. You probably know that.
The Huskies showed improvement basically across the board against Eastern Washington.
Senior Joel Whitford averaged 50 yards on two points, including a low bouncer that pinned the Eagles at their 2-yard line. Freshman Tim Horn’s first kickoff landed in the end zone for a touchback. Redshirt freshman Peyton Henry connected on a 22-yard field goal as well as six extra points.Redshirt freshmen M.J. Tafisi and Kyler Gordon stuck overmatched Eagles for impressive stops in coverage.
It will be interesting to see who takes the reins in Washington’s return game going forward. Sean McGrew handled kick returns on Saturday, while Aaron Fuller and Chico McClatcher both returned punts.