Another conference opponent is preparing to face off against the Colorado Buffaloes with bowl eligibility on the line. Seems to be a common theme going into the final weeks of the 2021 football season.
Unfortunately, the Buffs (3-7, 2-5 Pac-12) will spend the holidays at home for the first time in Karl Dorrell’s tenure. But they still have the opportunity to spoil postseason dreams and create chaos for others before December comes. They welcome the Washington Huskies into Boulder for a highly-anticipated matchup of once top conference foes.
The Huskies (4-6, 3-4 Pac-12) have been exciting to watch lately (though not on the field), mostly because of the Jimmy Lake saga that unfolded on the sidelines two weeks ago. The now former UW coach was handed a pink slip 13 games into his tenure at the school after a sideline altercation with linebacker Ruperake Fuavai during the Huskies’ loss to Oregon in Week 10.
“I recognize that terminating a coach after 13 games is unusual, and quite frankly, it certainly goes against my beliefs as an administrator,” Washington athletic director Jen Cohen said in a press conference earlier this week.
“However, when I know something is not working or something just isn’t right, I do have an obligation to act. I hired Coach Lake in 2019 full of confidence and had high expectations and did everything that I could to help him be successful. I’m really disappointed and I’m sad to be here today in his second season. As a director of athletics, his hire is on me, and I own it.”
Bob Gregory will serve as interim head coach of the Huskies for the second game after Lake’s dismissal. The 58-year-old defensive coordinator followed Chris Peterson from Boise State to Washington in 2014 and was retained on Lake’s staff two years ago. It is the third Pac-12 school for Gregory going back to 1989 when he was a GA on Rich Brooks staff at Oregon.
The high-flying offensive attack of the Huskies has been non-existent this year. The group has averaged 22.8 points per game, along with 113.3 rushing yards per game which is the second-worst in the conference. Lake fired offensive coordinator John Donovan days before the loss to Oregon. However, not much has changed with Junior Adams calling the plays for the Huskies offense. They’re still one of the most underperforming units with Dylan Morris throwing for 2,071 yards and 12 TD’s to 10 INT’s this season. Poor offensive output is one of the biggest reasons Washington is scraping to stay alive every week.
Colorado hasn’t been much better either. The Buffaloes offense has found more consistency over the past few weeks but still struggles in key parts of the games. An example of this was last week’s loss to UCLA. The Buffs took a 20-10 halftime lead over the Bruins before getting shutout with 34 unanswered points in the second half.
Brendon Lewis finished the game completing 17-of-26 passes for 158 yards. It was his fifth game this season without a touchdown and comes after two straight games with three scores each. Not a ton of offensive output, but Lewis has taken care of the ball and played relatively mistake-free. A total of three interceptions on the season and no games with multiple picks (T-5th, FBS). In fact, he has completed 68.6 percent of his passes in the past three games and hasn’t thrown an interception in the previous 84 pass attempts.
Washington’s defense will either make or break their day. Like Colorado, the Huskies have shown flashes of quality football by stopping opponents from running all over them. But nevertheless, they’ve lacked consistency. Washington ranks 112th nationally in rushing defense (204.8 ypg) and has allowed a majority of their yards on the ground. Take that away and Washington is golden— and by far would be one of the best defenses in college football. The Huskies lead the nation against the pass, giving up just 136.3 yards per game which is ahead of Wisconsin (155.7 ypg).
From the desk of Dave Plati:
Stats of the week: “1,715. That is the number of snaps (out of 7,511) that freshmen players have had on defense thus far in 2021 – or 22.8 percent of all plays. And of those, 620 have been by true (first-year) freshmen. At UCLA, frosh played 229 of 748 defensive plays – 31 percent – and that could be the case the last two games.
Mr. 300. Congrats to CU alum Dave Logan (’75), as he won his 300th game as a high school football coach last Friday night when Cherry Creek defeated Mountain Vista, 34-0, in the second round of the Colorado state 5A playoffs. Creek now advances to the quarterfinals to face Regis, as Logan is in pursuit of his 10th state title, his fourth at CCHS. He is in his 29th season coaching prep football in the state and now owns a 300-67 overall record (an 81.7 winning percentage; he is 99-24 at Creek). Logan, who coached several current and dozens of former Buffs, earned eight letters at CU, four in football as a wide receiver/kick returner and four in basketball as a forward as his was the first class back in 1972 when freshmen once again became eligible.
Colorado welcomes Washington into Boulder for their home finale. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. MST from Folsom Field. CU’s 98th season of play in the facility first named Colorado Stadium back in 1924, according to CU athletics.
TV: Pac-12 Network
Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson & Gary Barnett)
Odds: -6.5 Washington
Weather: 41°, partly cloudy