It’s a tall order for any FCS program to go on the road against the No. 8 team in the nation. It’s a taller order when that team’s offense moves methodically on the game’s opening drive, culminating in a quick 7-0 lead. And when the FCS team fumbles its first kickoff reception and the top-10 home team takes a 14-0 lead just 2:48 into the game, pulling out a win becomes all but impossible.
As most observers expected to happen, this game was over long before the final whistle made official Washington’s 41-3 win over the Portland State Vikings. After a hot start to the game, Jake Browning and the starting offense got their first extensive snaps in the second half this season after struggling to do much in the third quarter. Statistically, his performance was mostly an impressive one: Browning completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 163 yards and four touchdowns against zero interceptions, with his only real blemish of the day being a lost fumble in the second quarter that was as much on tight end Darrell Daniels as on Browning himself.
The defense again lived up to its high billing in the first half, surrendering zero points and just 79 yards on 28 plays while recovering three fumbles and sacking Vikings quarterback Alex Kuresa twice. Vita Vea, Greg Gaines, and Elijah Qualls exercised absolute control over the line of scrimmage, and Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provided good pressure coming off of the defense’s edge. And on the Vikings’ first trip to the red zone, cornerback Sidney Jones came up big with his first pick of the season — in the Husky end zone, no less.
This week’s edition of instant reaction dots:
- As nice as it is to come out of the non-conference with a 3-0 record, it’s hard to shake the feeling that we really haven’t learned anything meaningful about this team. The Huskies have played from behind for precisely 0:00 this season, and it’s difficult to know how they will respond to adversity if, say, Stanford jumps ahead to a 10-point lead in the early going of their game in two weeks.
- Building off that, this was easily the most unfocused and undisciplined game that Washington has played so far this season. In some ways, that is unsurprising; the team was playing a completely overmatched opponent for the third week in a row, the crowd was tiny (announced, 57,151; actual, probably around 20,000), and the Dawgs jumped out to a quick and seemingly insurmountable lead. As a result, the team seemed to lack focus, especially in the second half when the Huskies failed to score a point in the third quarter. That attitude also manifested itself in a season-high five penalties for 65 yards, a missed extra point on the game’s final scoring drive, and just 72 third-quarter yards. Despite the big win, Chris Petersen will no doubt give his team an earful in the days to come.
- Jake Browning’s mechanics and decision-making are remarkably advanced, to the point that it is easy to forget he has played just 15 games in his young career. I know that it is a total cliche at this point to say it, but he looks infinitely better than he did last year against teams like Boise State and Cal. Last year’s growing pains have paid off in a big way.
- For those of you who were awaiting Myles Gaskin’s breakout game after his 2015 true freshman campaign, tonight was all for you. Washington’s featured back carried the ball 13 times for 93 yards and one touchdown, and also hauled in one reception for four yards and a score.
- Sidney Jones is going to make himself a lot of money next spring. Unless something drastic happens to Washington’s lock-down cornerback between now and the NFL Draft, there is no way he falls out of the first round.
- I never knew until this evening how much I needed Will Dissly touchdown receptions in my life. Keep ‘em coming, pretty please.