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Huskies’ putrid offense sputters again at hands of Wolverines

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Huskies’ putrid offense sputters again at hands of Wolverines

Sophomore tailback Richard Newton walks off the field with an injury during the second half of Washington's game against Michigan at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 11, 2021. The Huskies' offense scored just one touchdown for the second straight game, as they lost to the Wolverines, 31-10.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Last week against Montana, the Washington football team failed to score for 55 minutes.

It would take a performance of hideous magnitudes to surpass the failure of the season-opener, but that’s exactly what happened when Washington traveled across the country to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The UW failed to score for the first 34 minutes of the game, entered the red zone only twice, and trailed by three scores by the time it scored its first touchdown in more than six quarters of play.

Washington was defeated by Michigan, 31-10, but it felt like the end of much more, as the offense remained lifeless, offering zero reason for hope, with the future of Washington offensive coordinator John Donovan surely in doubt.

“It’s not good enough, it’s not good enough at all,” Washington head coach Jimmy Lake said.

Not good enough only begins to describe how poor the Washington offense was.

Although the Huskies’ (0-2) 10 points were more than they scored in the season-opener, it was the way that they performed against the Wolverines (2-0) that made the outcome all the more brutal.

From the get go, the UW offense was overwhelmed by the big crowd in the Big House, as well as its own inept ability.

Before the ball was even snapped on the first play of the game, the Huskies went backwards.

Starting the first road game of his career, Washington quarterback Dylan Morris did not receive the snap from senior center Luke Wattenberg, as the UW was called for a delay of game.

It would be a sign of things to come, as the Huskies were unable to manage a first down on their first three drives of the game. Not until the second quarter did the UW pass midfield, and even then only generated 42 yards on a drive that ended in a failed fourth down conversion.

By the time Washington put points on the board, a measly field goal at that, it was already well past halftime with just over 20 minutes remaining in the game.

If the 94 minutes and 50 seconds between scores dating back to the Montana game didn’t speak for itself, the Huskies, which have embraced the “Run the damn ball,” motto, averaged just 1.6 yards per rush against the Wolverines.

Donovan and Lake tried as hard as they could to establish their preferred offense, with 19 rushes versus 15 passes in the first half. Sophomore Richard Newton and freshman Cameron Davis combined for just 0.8 yards per rush across the opening 30 minutes, sinking the Huskies’ hopes of running over the Wolverines.

The UW’s excuse of missing its three starting wide receivers, such as against Montana, was out the window. Receivers Terrell Bynum and Jalen McMillan were back on the field, and the Huskies’ pass-catchers, including tight end Cade Otton and receiver Taj Davis, were able to break tackles and have success when they were called upon.

To make matters worse, it was only when it trailed by three touchdowns that the UW finally began to show some urgency and success on the offensive side.

Washington’s final five drives all ended inside of Michigan territory. Unsurprisingly, the Huskies began to abandon the run and throw the ball, resulting in success.

In the second half, the UW averaged 6.2 yards per play, as Morris went 11-of-22 for 182 yards. The Huskies rushed just 13 times in the second half.

“If they’re going to stack everybody in there and we can’t run the football, we’re going to have to throw it,” Lake said. “We’ve had two games in a row that are unacceptable and it starts with us as coaches. We’ve got to make sure we give our guys a good plan to go out there and run the football and throw the football and put points on the board.”

It’s not the first time that the Huskies have made something out of a putrid first half.

Multiple times in the abbreviated 2020 season did the UW score three or more times in the second half, relying on Morris’ arm to guide a comeback.

But without an open or modern playbook to allow Morris to succeed, let alone any quarterback, the Huskies will remain stuck in the mud for weeks to come.

Washington will hope to turn things around when Arkansas State comes to town on Sept. 18, or else the Huskies will go winless in non-conference play for the first time since 2008, when they went without a victory in an 0-12 campaign.

Reach Co-Sports Editor Anthony Edwards at Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb

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