Three takeaways from Washington's 28-21 win over Cal
Michael Penix Jr. was his usual, explosive self, the Husky front seven hunted and harassed Cal quarterback Jack Plummer all night, and Washington picked up its first road win of the season with a 28-21 victory over the Golden Bears.
In fact, it was UW’s first road win since Oct. 30, 2021. The Bears had yet to lose inside their home stadium this season and the Huskies had yet to win away from theirs, but there’s a first for everything. Washington (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12) is also bowl eligible again after slipping to 4-8 a season ago. Cal (3-4, 1-3 Pac-12), meanwhile, will need to put some pieces together offensively if it hopes to reach the same.
Here are three takeaways from the game.
Penix goes off… again
Michael Penix Jr. has thrown for at least 300 yards in every game this season. The talented lefty completed 36 of his 51 attempts Saturday evening, totaling 374 yards and two scores. Penix once again played turnover-free football and led scoring drives on three straight possessions to begin the second half.
UW wasn’t quite as effective as we’ve seen this season, particularly in the first half when it was held to just a pair of field goals. The Golden Bears gave up 245 first-half yards, but they didn’t give up the game-breaking play and kept most of Penix’s stuff in front of them.
That changed a bit more in the second half. UW, with an 83-65 play advantage in the game, wore down the Bears’ defense. Throughout, Penix was methodical — he completed 23 of his first 26 passes — but he found the explosive play over the game’s final 30 minutes.
In the second half, Penix had six completions of at least 16 yards, including this 36-yard bullet to tailback Richard Newton.
BIG STEPPA 💨💨💨 @iRiichh
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) October 23, 2022
Penix has multiple passing touchdowns now in all but one game this season. His eighth 300-yard outing appears to be a first in program history. Cody Pickett had seven straight to begin the 2002 season, but he had only 210 yards in his eighth outing.
Cal’s offensive line must not like Plummer
It’s no small miracle that Cal quarterback Jack Plummer is still standing, walking, and trying to throw the football. Cal gave up five sacks to Washington Saturday night. Plummer looked to be limping at one point. On the Bears’ final drive, he took a shot and laid on the ground holding his throwing shoulder.
Cal has given up 23 sacks now in its seven games. They gave up 25 all of last year.
Bralen Trice had two for UW. Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Jeremiah Martin each had one. So did Voi Tunuufi.
Plummer won’t be upright come season’s end if Cal continues to field this kind of offensive line play. Colorado got to him twice a week ago. Washington State sacked him four times the week before that. Notre Dame sacked him six times. UNLV got him four times. Even UC Davis sacked Plummer twice. The offense couldn’t move the ball when it was gifted two possessions at the end to try and drive for a game-tying score.
The inability of the line to find any success was as big a reason for this loss as there was.
Keep an eye on the UW run game
For the third time in four weeks, Washington failed to crack 150 yards rushing as a team.
Cameron Davis ran for another score — his 10th of the year, the most of any Pac-12 player — but he had just 46 yards rushing. Wayne Taulapapa had 25 yards but just four carries. Richard Newton had five for 18 yards.
There will come a time this season when UW needs to be able to use its ground game to either win or put itself in a position to win. It can’t continue to have one-sided performances if it wants to beat good teams.
And good teams are coming. UW faces Oregon State and Oregon after its bye week, beginning on Nov. 4 at home against the Beavers.