So, this is what “multifaceted” looks like.
That’s the word Jimmy Lake kept using to describe his offense, but the optics suggested otherwise. After all, the Huskies looked worryingly one-dimensional in last weekend’s 27-21 win over Oregon State — rushing a whopping 51 times, as opposed to 24 passes. In his first career start, redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris threw for all of 141 yards and was held without a touchdown pass. And on Monday, Lake wore a white hat with four bolded words — RUN THE DAMN BALL — printed (perhaps prophetically) across the front.
And yet, Lake also insisted that, “if we have the opportunity to go throw it around a little bit, we’ll be able to do that too. That’s what I love about our offense and that’s what is very challenging for a defense, when you don’t know what you’re going to get from week to week. So this weekend you’re going to see a different type of offense.”
He wasn’t kidding.
And it looked like the Arizona Wildcats never saw it coming.
In a dominant 44-27 win, Morris wasted little time in unveiling his arsenal. In the Huskies’ first offensive drive, the Puyallup product found sophomore wide receiver Puka Nacua on a crossing route on third-and-10 for a 65-yard score. As Nacua celebrated, an obviously ecstatic Morris sprinted nearly the length of the field to meet him. He connected with junior tight end Cade Otton on a 20-yard TD in the third quarter as well.
In all, the 6-foot, 200-pound redshirt freshman completed 15 of 25 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns in three efficient quarters.
“Dylan has a lot of command,” Otton said. “I mean, he runs our offense really well. He knows the ins and out of it and I think he’s really good at reading his progressions and he finds the open guy.”
Added Lake: “I’m so excited for Dylan. He’s operating our offense, he’s executing and he’s a great leader for us. So I’m excited to see his game continue to improve.”
But again, a “multifaceted” offense needs more than just Morris. Otton also caught seven passes on eight targets for 100 yards and a score. Richard Newton ran for 81 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard fourth-quarter touchdown trot. The Huskies rushed for 234 yards, 5.3 yards per carry and four scores — and running backs Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew also found the end zone.
At one point, redshirt freshman running back Cameron Davis carried at least four Wildcats for a will-stomping 17-yard gain.
“We have a lot of really good players, and (offensive coordinator John) Donovan does a good job of getting them the ball,” Otton said. “So I think (the offense) can change, just getting guys the ball in different ways. We’ve got really good receivers, really good running backs. We’ve got a really good offensive line. So we’re going to utilize all of those things, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
In Donovan’s second game at UW, the Huskies produced three touchdowns and a field goal in their first four drives.
Which, for 45 minutes, was all it needed.
Because, a week after pumping out 444 total yards and 30 points in a narrow loss to USC, the Wildcat offense was unceremoniously incinerated through three quarters on Saturday. True sophomore quarterback Grant Gunnell — who passed for 286 yards and three touchdowns last weekend — completed 22 of 34 passes for 259 yards and three scores, which all came in garbage time. He was also the victim of a first-quarter Edefuan Ulofoshio strip-sack.
UW redshirt sophomore outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui racked up two sacks for the second consecutive game. A stifling UW defense compiled seven tackles for loss and five sacks, and the Huskies did it without defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa and outside linebacker Laiatu Latu — who missed a second consecutive game with apparent injuries.
In the first three quarters, before Washington went to its second-team defense, Arizona recorded a grand total of 66 yards and 0.9 yards per carry, while going 0 for 9 on third down. Gunnell passed for 50 yards and 2.8 yards per attempt.
“We just had an emphasis on having fun,” said senior outside linebacker Ryan Bowman, who contributed three tackles and a sack. “We talked about that before the game. We said we’re just going to be flying around, having as much fun as possible. Because we’re literally playing football. That’s all we should be doing is having fun.
“So that was the mentality on the sideline and in practice prep and in pregame and all that. We were just focused on having fun, and it showed.”
Of course, the fun didn’t last forever. Against UW’s backup defense, Arizona scored four touchdowns and piled up 265 total yards in the fourth quarter alone. Lake maintained that, “when we have the opportunity to put in all of our backups on offense, defense and special teams and get those guys some great work, we will always do that, and it’s going to pay dividends down the road.”
Still, when it mattered, this Husky performance was more than “multifaceted.” It was merciless. For three quarters, at least, it was a Montlake masterpiece.