After trading field goals and ending the first quarter with a 3-3 tie game, the Washington Huskies settled into a groove and overpowered the suspect UCLA Bruins defense by racking up a cool 333 yards and five rushing touchdowns en route to a 44-23 victory. While Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman earned much of the limelight, Washington’s defense was again spectacular and the various special teams units operated much more crisply than they did two weeks ago in the loss to Arizona State. Most importantly, Washington’s path to the Pac-12 championship (and in turn, perhaps the College Football Playoff) remains alive and kicking.
Rushing Offense: A+
When you hand the ball off 58 times at the rate of 5.7 yards per rush and pick up five touchdowns, it’s hard to find much room for criticism. Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman on Saturday were every bit the dynamic duo Washington fans envisioned at the start of the year, with the pair accumulating 173 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries between them. True freshman Salvon Ahmed continues to acclimate to the college game, picking up 40 yards on six carries, and Jake Browning picked up an important early touchdown on a quarterback sneak to give the Dawgs a lead they would never relinquish.
Passing Offense: B
What can you say about the passing game on a day when it very simply wasn’t needed? The Huskies threw just 12 passes on the entire day, the lowest single-game total since 1981, and Jake Browning’s end-of-day stat line consisted of eight completions on 11 attempts for 98 yards and one of the ugliest interceptions you’re likely to see him ever throw. Finally, the loss of promising true freshman tight end Hunter Bryant for what Chris Petersen described earlier today as “a significant period of time” is the latest challenge for Washington’s receiving unit that is already coping with the loss of Chico McClatcher for the year.
Rushing Defense: A+
UCLA’s rushing game found absolutely no traction against the Washington defense, which is a phrase that can be applied to virtually every opponent the Huskies have played in 2017. (Washington’s 2.18 yards allowed per rush ranks No. 1 in the nation, and eclipses No. 2 Oregon by an astounding 1.14 yards among Pac-12 teams.) Soso Jamabo and Bolu Olorunfunmi racked up just 54 yards on 14 carries between them, and the Bruins had just three runs that went for 10 or more yards, the longest of which went for 11.
Passing Defense: A+
Josh Rosen is one of the most hyped quarterback prospects in a generation, and for good reason: He knows how to read blitzes and dissect defenses on the fly, has the 6-4 frame that scouts drool over, and possesses an absolute cannon of a right arm. Prior to last weekend, he averaged 374 yards and 2.7 touchdowns on 28.6 completions per game; against Washington, Rosen completed 12 passes on 21 attempts for 93 yards and one touchdown. The Huskies did this, mind you, sans two starting cornerbacks.
(Translation: Enjoy Jimmy Lake while you still can, Dawg fans. Because he’s about to get PAID.)
Washington’s pass rush, which has been one of the defense’s few weaknesses in 2017, was also able to find success against UCLA, as the Dawgs sacked Rosen four times (all in the first half).
Special Teams: A+
Tristan Vizcaino has spent much of the 2017 season as the unwilling owner of a particularly bad case of the yips, coming into the UCLA game having made just four of nine field goal attempts. Whatever he did during Washington’s long bye week apparently did the trick, though, as he was a perfect eight-for-eight on PAT and field goal attempts Saturday. None of them should have been particularly tricky — his longest attempt was from 31 yards — but this kind of performance does wonders for a kicker’s self-confidence, which always seemed to be his problem rather than his leg. In addition, Salvon Ahmed thrilled like no one since John Ross has as Washington’s kick returner, with one return of 82 yards following UCLA’s first offensive touchdown. That big return set the Washington offense up with a tremendously short field, and culminated in seven points for the Dawgs.
Too often, a coaching staff can get ahead of their skis and outsmart themselves by overthinking an opponent. Suffice to say, that didn’t happen to Chris Petersen and his staff Saturday. In UCLA, the Huskies faced a historically bad rushing defense, and committed early to running the ball. That commitment paid off with Washington’s biggest day on the ground since last year’s 70-21 trampling of the Oregon Ducks. In addition, the Huskies committed just four penalties, and not a single one in the second half.
What overall grade do you give the Huskies for their performance against the Bruins?
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