The Huskies faced their first true test of the season Saturday, as they went to Folsom Field for a late night matchup against Colorado in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 championship game. After a competitive first half, the Huskies capitalized on Steven Montez’s mistakes and pounded the Buffs on the ground and came away with a dominant 37-10 victory.
Let’s dive into who stood out in all three phases of the game for the Huskies.
Offensive Player of the Game: Myles Gaskin
Myles Gaskin and the “big uglies” up front put to rest all of the fears regarding the running game that persisted throughout the preseason. Gaskin for his part finished with 27 carries for a career high 202 rushing yards - which was good for a 7.5-yard average - and two touchdowns. His stellar performance was capped with a 57-yard touchdown run in the mid-fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. Gaskin’s performance is even more impressive when you consider that senior running back Lavon Coleman was a late scratch from this game due to a concussion.
The honorable mention here is sophomore wide receiver Quinten Pounds. While he finished with only one catch, it was a ridiculous 43-yard touchdown catch made in between two defenders. It was the second touchdown of the young receiver’s career and may be the toughest play we see any Huskies player make all season.
Defensive Player of the Game: Tie Between Jordan Miller and Myles Bryant
The stress levels of all Huskies fans undoubtedly went up to some degree when Adam Jude of the Seattle Times’ reported that standout cornerback Byron Murphy would miss six weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
While the concern over losing a player as good as Murphy doesn’t really go away, the Huskies secondary undoubtedly won the matchup against Colorado’s trio of highly talented wide receivers. Myles Bryant and Jordan Miller led the way. Miller came away with two very impressive interceptions, while Bryant decisively won a game of cat and mouse with Montez (he bluffed that he was going to blitz before dropping back into coverage) and took back an interception for a score in the third quarter.
The honorable mention here is another tie, this time between Azeem Victor and Ryan Bowman. Victor finished with a team-high 10 tackles, 1 sack and 1 tackle for loss. Bowman for his part had the best performance of all the Huskies’ edge rushers, as he finished with 6 tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss.
Special Teams Player of the Game: Vita Vea and Levi Onwuzurike
While Dante Pettis had a quiet night as a punt returner, the Huskies found another way to use the punt game to change the game. The Buffs held a 7-0 lead in the mid first quarter, and even though the Huskies had forced the Buffs to punt deep in their own territory, they still held a decent amount of momentum up to that point.
Enter Vita Vea and Levi Onwuzurike. The duo of interior defensive linemen absolutely annihilated Colorado’s punting blockers and Vea finished the play by getting his hand up to block the punt. The Huskies recovered the ball in the red zone and Myles Gaskin punched it in to tie the game a few plays later. The momentum of the game shifted to the Huskies after the punt block and the Huskies never really let it go for the remainder of the game.