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Deep dive into Cal game last year reveals need for aggressive wideouts

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Fuller 9/5

Aaron Fuller tries to break a tackle during the Huskies' 47-14 season opening win over Eastern Washington at Husky Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019. Fuller finished with five catches for two touchdowns and 73 yards.

As you could expect, the Washington football team’s 12-10 loss to California last season doesn’t sit quite well with the UW offense. Especially with the wide receivers. 

Just three Washington wideouts caught passes in the defensive slugfest, and most of those catches were in the game’s early moments. 

After a 15-play drive that included several third and fourth down conversions and a penalty that set them up with a first-and-goal situation, the Huskies found the end zone on their opening drive against the Golden Bears. They were even driving on their second before an interception halted their offense for pretty much the rest of the game. 

After that second drive, the offense went cold, as the wideouts only contributed three more catches in the game’s last three quarters. After that game, offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan watched his fair share of game film from that day. 

“I think every single day from that day on, no offseasons and no summer, we’ve made it a plan to be on the attack this year and we hope to do that,” Hamdan said. 

But why that particular game? Why that game against Cal? Certainly the Huskies had offensive struggles in their losses to Auburn, Oregon, and Ohio State as well, but the Cal game stuck in UW’s second-year OC’s head, for multiple reasons. 

“We certainly took a deep, deep dive into that game last year,” Hamdan said. “We certainly have to take more chances. I really felt like we were just reaction, and our biggest push this year has been to be on the attack.”

After that first drive, it was the Golden Bear defensive backs who were on the attack, with the Huskies reacting to what the defense was doing. It resulted in a dismal day that the Huskies have not forgotten about, but have moved on from. Washington recognizes the challenge that the Cal defense brings, returning just about every starter on their defense. As they head into the early season rematch, however, they are focusing on what they can control and their own execution on the field. 

While Hamdan had looked at the game film often to change his approach from a coordinator standpoint, his receivers have mostly revisited the game film this week. 

“I have this week,” Fuller said watching game film of last year. “Besides that, not much, you have to move on from losses like that. This week we watched a lot of that film, what I did wrong, what the offense did wrong, just things to fix to carry over to this game.

“Just a lot of bad plays, whether that’s a loss of yards, penalties, things like that that killed us in the red zone and the middle of the field. We couldn’t get in there and score and turnovers and things like that stalled us out.”

Senior receiver Andre Baccellia, who actually led the Huskies with four catches and also contributed 40 yards, noted the small mistakes the UW made. Whether it was running particular plays into certain coverages, slipping up on their routes, or just flat out dropping passes, Baccellia thinks that cleaning up those small mistakes will go a long way. 

“We just have to go out there and execute, compete our asses off, and we’ll be fine,” Baccellia said. 

Reach Sports Editor Alec Dietz at Twitter: @AlecDietz

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