ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies runs against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Punchless Washington will see better days ahead after CFB Playoff loss

The unofficial ranking of things that were terrible to start off the 2016 CFB Playoff are as follows:

1. The new Dos Equis guy, who is so terrible he actually makes the beer taste worse by proxy;

2. Washington Huskies offense.

The bad news is, Washington’s season is over after gaining a miserable 194 total yards, the first time they’d been held under 270 this season. The previous low was a loss, too, to Southern California. Alabama 24, Washington 7.

That UW offense wasted away waht was a yeoman’s effort by the Husky defense, one that held the Crimson Tide to 17 points and a ghastly 4-14 on third downs. Unfortunately, it was the fourth one that hurt the most.

In the early fourth quarter after a momentum-changing punt by quarterback Jake Browning to pin Alabama inside their own two, Bo Scarbrough rumbled for what was ostensibly a give-away play to a first down. That’d lead to a 68-yard jaunt a few plays later and the door was officially shut on Washington’s season.

The bad news is, pretty much this column up to this point. The good news is, it’s hard to find a team to be more positive about going forward in college football. For Washington on the national stage, this was just the beginning, not the end.

Washington is set to return eight starters from an offense that took the Pac-12 by storm, including quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin. Wide receivers Dante Pettis and John Ross will be seniors.

The defense, including all starters from a line that more than held its own against mighty Alabama will return 10 starters.

To be honest, Washington made major mistakes in their game planning against the Tide. When you play a great program, you can’t be afraid to be yourself out of worry that they’ll pick you apart.

Time and time again, Washington played a safe, “just let us hang in there and see what happens” style not befitting of their ability. The game plan played right into Alabama’s hands, no more evident than when Browning tossed a pick six late in the first half that sucked the wind out of any feeling the Peach Bowl had any chance of being a shocker.

From there, the Huskies only played more conciliatory.

There were no aggressive throws down field, even when the writing was on the wall. No testing the Alabama secondary for the most part. And punting hopelessly down. Whether you lose by 1 or 100, it doesn’t matter. They let you not move on all the same.

Pardon the reference, but the Huskies simply never swung their sword.

The upside, though, is that this was a beneficial learning experience for a team that should be back, and in a hurry. If you’d have asked Joe Husky in July if he’d take a Pac-12 title and a CFB Playoff berth and first round loss as a sign of improvement, you’d have needed a rag to mop up the saliva after spitting out “YESSSSS!!!!” so quickly.

Few teams across the land are in a better position than Washington, set at the skill positions and along both lines. Chris Petersen was always going to get it done, it was just a matter of time. Now, we know he can do it in Washington at a high level.

So weep for the loss if you must, Washington fan, but understand this is just a big part of a process that will eventually end with a title, over Alabama or whomever stands in the way one day.

 

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