I don’t think fans of any FBS school look forward to playing an FCS team. It’s just hard to find any positives for the FBS school. If your team dominates, fans, and more importantly your friends who are fans of rival schools, can rightly dismiss the good performance and say something along the lines of “oh, well I’d hope they’d be able to dominate [insert FCS school here].” And if you lose? Well, just ask your closest Coug friend how often they are reminded of their teams’ recent struggles against FCS programs.
With that said, the Huskies’ matchup against Montana went about as well as any Huskies fan could hope (aside from injuries, as Dante Pettis, Drew Sample and Andre Baccellia all left the game at different points with injuries). The Huskies’ defense held the Grizzlies scoreless for 60 minutes on Saturday, with the Grizzlies’ only touchdown coming off an interception that was caused by a flagrant and uncalled pass interference on Dante Pettis.
It was a dominant showing on Saturday. Let’s run down who stood out the most.
Offensive Player of the game: Jake Browning
The Huskies’ junior signal caller racked up an impressive stat line Saturday night as he finished 22-26 with 259 passing yards and two touchdowns. He was able to do pretty much whatever he pleased through the air against an overmatched Grizzlies secondary. He showed again this week that he feels comfortable utilizing the tight end in the passing game. Last week his favorite tight end target was Drew Sample; this week it was Montana native Will Dissly, as Dissly finished with 5 catches for 79 yards and two scores.
Browning also showed off his ability to scramble, as he rushed for 50 yards and one score. While a few of his scrambles almost certainly wouldn’t have gone as far against top Pac-12 defenses, but I believe his rushing touchdown was not just the product of playing an outmatched opponent. Browning showed an ability last season to successfully run the ball on the read option in the red zone last year, and he demonstrated that skill again Saturday.
The close runner-up for offensive player of the game is the aforementioned Dissly, who eclipsed his career number of receptions in this game and recorded two scores against his hometown team’s rival.
Defensive player of the game: Ben Burr-Kirven/Jomon Dotson
Ben Burr-Kirven had a stellar game for the Huskies on Saturday. He led the team in tackles for the second straight week with 10, including 5 solo tackles, and also recorded a sack for good measure. He seems to be emerging for the Huskies as a very solid player for the Huskies in the middle of the defense.
So, you must be asking yourself, why is Jomon Dotson’s name included here? Well, that’s because this is a tie between the two players, due to Dotson’s incredible 69-yard interception return late in the game.
Does Dotson’s entire performance merit inclusion here? No. But I mean, come on, did you see that return? According to the Seattle Times’ Adam Jude, Chris Petersen said after the game he’d never seen a player so tired during a return, and I couldn’t agree more. I was convinced he was going to throw up before crossing the goal line. Just incredible effort by Dotson.
Special Teams player of the game: Dante Pettis
Pettis is a painfully obvious choice here. He returned a late first quarter punt 67 yards to the house for his second return TD of the season. Pettis’s return was the seventh of his career, and he shattered the Pac-12 record for career punt returns, previously set by DeSean Jackson.
Maybe this is my purple glasses here, but I’ve felt that Pettis has been undervalued as a special teams weapon by the national media during his career, especially as the Huskies have rocketed to national prominence in the last year and a half. Now that he holds the conference record for Pac-12 punt returns, expect the national media to start to pay more attention to Pettis as a weapon on special teams.