The Huskies came into the game as a -3.5 point favorite over the Aggies and walked away up two touchdowns. It was all on the right arm of Jake Browning. His final line was 22-31, 368 yards, 3 touchdowns and a pick. He dropped back, saw his receiver, and threw the ball to his receiver. It worked. The defense looked like the same dominant group it has been since halftime of the Smurf Turf opener.
Washington is going to be better than expected this year y'all. There is a chance to make some noise in the PAC.
Utah State began the game with a swing screen down the left sideline to LaJuan Hunt for 16 yards. The Aggies followed their successful play with a negative one: a false start that put them in a hole just too large to climb out of, with a punt eventually forced.
Washington's response wasn't much, with a miscommunication between Browning and Brayden Lenius preventing a completion for a first down. The Huskies punted the ball back to the much-maligned Chuckie Keeton. A hobbling Keeton led his team to another first down on a questionable pass interference call on Sidney Jones. Washington bounced back by forcing another punt and then the offense brought the most sustained drive of the still-early game yet.
Beginning at their own 17, Browning hit Lenius on a slant for 15 yards to begin an 11 play drive highlighted by a pitch flea flicker to/from Dwayne Washington. Browning hit a crossing Marvin Hall along the left sideline after Hall began the play on the other side of the field. the drive still only ended in three points for the Dawgs after a 48-yard field goal from Cameron Van Winkle.
Washington's first drive of the second quarter was a short one: three plays. It wasn't a three-and-out though. on 3rd-and-11 Utah State lined up across from the Dawgs in man coverage. The Huskies cleared out the left side of the field and Browning dumped the ball off to Washington who raced up the sideline 81 yards for a score. 10-0 Huskies.
Despite missing star sophomore safety Budda Baker (left after the first series with a leg injury) the Husky defense was able to extend its shutout streak to seven quarters before being left in a difficult position by the kickoff coverage following Washington's run. Once Keeton's Aggies made it to the red zone things stalled, but they still came away with three.
This is where the first half got... weird. Browning's shoulder-mounted slingshot and Lindquist's linebacker frame took the Huskies 63 yards down the field. It came down to fourth-and-2 and Tristan Vizcaino's legs (not leg) for the Dawgs to get some points. He got away with a false start that was purely due to the excitement of getting the chance to run the ball. He took a direct snap into the end zone and Washington took a two touchdown lead into the half.
Utah State responded with a touchdown of its own following a 49-yard catch-and-run from Keeton to Hunter Sharp. Sharp was tripped up by Azeem Victor with less than a yard to go. One failed attempt later the Aggies trotted out nose tackle David Moala. Moala weighs over 300 pounds. That is a load to stop, and the Dawgs finally broke and allowed a touchdown. That led to the halftime score of 17-0.
The second half opened with two interceptions, Browning launched one deep to Jaydon Mickens who lost the ball in the air and underran it, allowing the safety to pick the ball off. Keeton threw one of his own three plays later when Kevin King statched his third interception of the year, showing off the ball skills Darren Gardenhire wishes he had.
That's when Browning took over the PA system and announced to the country that he is here and here to stay. He didn't miss a pass on the next
two three Washington drives, completing NFL throws and doing his best impersonation of the other quarterback of the Emerald City, Russell Wilson. A throw from the right hash lofted perfectly to the left sideline in stride to Jaydon Mickens who steps out; a spin in the pocket to evade three Aggie defenders before lofting the ball to a leaking Drew Sample for a touchdown. The kid is good.
Following his interception, Browning completed twelve consecutive passes. His streak was only broken as fellow true freshman Quentin Pounds dropped a touch pass going to the ground near the sideline on a rollout to the left. Washington had three turnovers in the second half, the latter two to no fault of Browning. Following a completed pass (because that's what Browning does) Lenius was stripped.
Brandon Beaver intercepted a pass on the following possession and was tackled within the five on the longest interception return in Washington history. Utah State countered by stripping Jeff Lindquist on a fake pitch and taking the ball 97 yards to the house. That would be the final score of the game, leading to the final score of 31-17
This isn't a Dot. This is its own section. Jake Browning was masterful in the second half. His decision to throw to Mickens wasn't bad, but at worst it is an incompletion should Mickens not lose the ball in flight. After that there were TWELVE straight completions. AP Style says not to write out twelve but I am writing it out because that is such a large number. He wasn't making a bunch of easy passes either. He was under fire, throwing the ball down the field with a fellow true freshman protecting his blind side and a redshirt frosh protecting his front.
Browning is on his way to being the best passer in Washington history. I was asked the question on Twitter: is he looking better than even Marques Tuiasosopo did as a true freshman? Personally, Tui is before my day so I am unable to answer that question, but Browning is looking like a potential all-time great. He doesn't have elite arm strength but it isn't a hindrance. He has the anticipation and understanding of touch unseen by almost any true freshman. It would be easy to keep going.
- This defense is actually good in case you didn't know already. The scoreless quarters streak extended to seven quarters. Its calling card is speed. No positional group personifies this trait more than the linebackers. There isn't a weak link among this group. Victor might end up being the best of the bunch and he is only still a sophomore. Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney are sideline-to-sideline players and Keishawn Bierria is explosive
- The offensive line started the game revamped. True freshman Trey Adams from Wenatchee, Wash. got the start at left tackle. He had some bad moments, giving up a sack on third down of the first drive was one of them, but he grew in his comfort and didn't look overmatched. He actually looked really good, all things considered. Redshirt frosh Kaleb McGary received the start on the other side of the line. He didn't look quite as good as Adams as the "power tackle" on the right side of the line, but handled himself better than most would in his situation.
- The line struggled to open up holes in the run game but were able to generate push in short-yardage with either Browning or Jeff Lindquist at quarterback. It didn't give Myles Gaskin or Washington much of a chance to showcase their running abilities inside the tackles. Gaskin led the Dawgs with 42 yards on 15 carries. Chris Petersen has sent the message: we don't care who is more experienced, if you are better, you will play.
D. Washington was still able to make a difference in the passing game, and that is an understatement. Five catches, 131 yards and two TDs.