It hasn’t been the season that Husky fans expected out of Jake Browning. We can’t know if he isn’t right after his off-season surgery on his shoulder, if he doesn’t trust his supporting cast as much, or if it is something else.
We were treated to a flash of what we were hoping to see all season to end this game, however. We will get to that.
Washington had the opening possession of the game and started things off with a rollout pass to Dante Pettis who high-pointed a 32-yard back-shoulder fade. A third down sack with Luke Wattenberg losing to a speed rush forced a punt, but Joel Whitford pinned the Utes at the six.
Utah lost yardage on their possession, and the Dawgs were able to score first.
The poor field position didn’t matter, as a slant-and-run-really-fast play usually goes to the house when the defense doesn’t take proper angles, as every one of the seven plays called ended with the ball in the hands of Myles Gaskin, Lavon Coleman or Salvon Ahmed. Even the passing plays had the ball going to a running back.
The extra point didn’t pass through the uprights for UW, which meant when Rae Singleton caught a slant-and-run-until-you-hit-a-wall play that the extra point put Utah ahead. The Utes surprised the Dawgs with an onside kick and the extra possession turned into three points after the UW defense stiffened near the goal line.
During that stand, JoJo McIntosh was ejected after a review showed he launched himself into the ball carrier with the crown of his helmet.
The offense knows what it is and used that to its advantage on its second touchdown drive, with every play going to either a running back or Pettis. Even the incomplete pass was targeted at the NCAA record-holder.
Halftime was preceded by another field goal for each team, with the score going into the break being a 16-13 Husky advantage.
The Washington dominance of the third quarter died earlier in the season and it didn’t get any better tonight. The Utes outscored the Dawgs 10-7 with scores on both of their possessions. Washington had another missed kick, this time a field goal, then a touchdown.
Utah was able to move the ball mostly through the air but did find a modest amount of success on the ground using Huntley as a runner. He ultimately finished with a touchdown and 48 yards on 25 carries including sacks, of which the Dawgs had three.
The fourth quarter is where the game is ultimately decided, however, and we were finally able to see the Jake Browning that we wanted to see all season. He was able to orchestrate two drives in the waning moments that ultimately wound up deciding the game. Before his defining drive, Browning was hurt after getting helicoptered Elway-style four yards away from the first down. It didn’t matter.
With 2:03 left in the game, Browning was incomplete on three consecutive passes, two of which were effectively throwaways. On 4th-and-10 with the game on the line, he was able to complete a 14-yard pass to Andre Baccellia. It was the first of five straight complete passes, with the final play of the drive being a wildcat touchdown to Gaskin. That tied the game.
The UW defense was able to get the offense the ball back to give Browning 29 seconds, and the junior quarterback took advantage. Myles Gaskin ran left and the Utes took a timeout. The Dawgs changed their tactics when Browning completed a pass to Pettis 18 yards downfield, almost to midfield. Baccellia was able to catch a pass that brought Washington to the Utah 21.
Tristan Vizcaino had his chance at redemption, and he was able to hit a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give Washington the win.
- The UW defense got off to a strong start but wasn’t able to maintain its staunchness past that. The run defense continued to be strong with Vita Vea and Greg Gaines (who missed some time with injury) looking strong as usual. The young secondary struggled against Huntley, who threw just just under 300 yards, averaging almost 10 yards per attempt.
- Byron Murphy returned for his first game following his injury, and the rust showed. He and the entire group of corners struggled, with Myles Bryant and Austin Joyner getting the worst of it. With a secondary as young as Washington’s, down games will come every once in a while. Going up against WSU in the Apple Cup next week is going to be the toughest test for them so far.
- Browning’s numbers looked great for most of the game but it wasn’t a great passing game for him until the end. He continued to appear uncertain of what he was looking at downfield and attempted to play superhero ball, even taking flight briefly before landing on his hip prior to exploding at the end of the game.
- If the Huskies were to intercept a pass, you would need only one guess to know who it was. Taylor Rapp is the best player in the back seven for UW and he showed it again today with six tackles and the interception. Ben Burr-Kirven also almost had an interception in the fourth. His development has been key for Washington next to Keishawn Bierria.
- Washington wasn’t able to dominate on the ground for its sole offense, with Gaskin going for only 52 yards, though he did have two scores. There weren’t many yards to be had, as the Utes were playing around the line of scrimmage and daring UW to beat them over the top.
Washington will only have two more games, as Stanford’s victory removed the Dawgs from Pac-12 North contention. A win against WSU will still put UW in a good bowl, but until then, we are now on Apple Cup Week.