The Huskies picked up their first conference win of the season when they knocked off the Utah Utes 21-7 on the road. It was a hard-fought, physical type of game. While UW players, coaches, and fans all would've like to see the Huskies capitalize on more of their offensive possessions, everyone will take a two-possession victory on the road. Let’s take a look at a few of the players who stepped up for the Huskies, as well as a few of my favorite plays from the game.
Offense: Myles Gaskin 30 Carries, 143 yards, 1 TD
After a subpar performance on the ground against North Dakota, the talk heading into this game centered around concerns over the Huskies’ rushing game. It wasn’t perfect in SLC Saturday—the inability of the Huskies to run the ball once Harris left the game with an apparent leg injury is concerning, as well as the Huskies’ inability to put the game away late on the ground—but it was much improved, and that had a lot to do with #9. Gaskin was up to all of his usual tricks Saturday, squeaking through holes, patiently waiting for holes to open up and then bursting through them, and seemingly always finding a way to squirm, fall, or duck forward for yards after contact. Gaskin moved up to 8th all-time on the Pac-12 rushing touchdown list as he recorded his 47th rushing touchdown. I’ll be saying this all year: appreciate Myles Gaskin, for we will miss him when he’s gone.
My honorable mention goes to Aaron Fuller, who finished the game with 6 catches for 108 receiving yards. This was his second game with over 100 yards receiving this season, and he is certainly Jake Browning’s favorite target. He has lived up to all of the off-season talk, and is a legitimate number one option for the Huskies.
Defense: Ben Burr-Kirven, 11 Total Tackles, four Solo Tackles
I’ll admit it, I can overlook Ben Burr-Kirven at times. He’s not the most physically impressive player on the defense, nor is he the highest rated recruit the Huskies have on defense. But, BBK has built his career on proving doubters like me wrong, and he deserves credit. He is a very consistent presence for the Husky defense, and provides speed at the inside linebacker position that the Huskies seem to lack this season. If you’re like me, you didn’t fully realize just how important BBK was to the defense until you felt the fear run through the back of your spine when he briefly left the game with an injury.
That being said, my runner-up for this one is basically the entire secondary, but particularly Jordan Miller and Byron Murphy. Miller came away with a crucial interception at the end of the second quarter when it looked as though the Utes were in position to tack on a field goal and cut the Huskies lead to 14-10 heading into halftime. For his part, Murphy finished the game with five tackles, four solo tackles, one tackle for loss, and the biggest hit we’ve seen from the Huskies (and maybe in all of college football) this season. Speaking of which...
Defensive Play of the Game: Murphy Lays the Wood
I’ve got some things to say about this hit and Murphy’s performance Saturday, which I’ll get to, but first, we need to enjoy this one again.
Man, what a hit. You would’ve thought the Huskies secondary had something against Britain Covey for how many big hits they laid on him. This is honestly the hardest hit that I can remember in recent Husky history. Murphy was an absolute enforcer on Saturday, and you could tell the big hits that he and the entire secondary dished out had an effect on the Ute receivers. As the game went on, they started to drop relatively easy catches. You have to think Murphy’s hit left a lasting message in the Utes’ receiving core.
Offensive Play of the Game: Jake Browning and Ty Jones Connect for Six
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a convenient clip of Browning’s touchdown pass to Ty Jones, but you can watch the play here. I picked this as my offensive play of the game mainly because of Jones’s ability to run the scramble drill, and Browning’s ability to keep the play alive. If you watch Jones’s route, he is lined up to the left on the inside with a receiver above. He runs a nice slant route to the middle, but is covered up. However, instead of giving up on the play, he picks his head up, realizes that Browning is scrambling to his right, fights off a slight hold in the middle of the end zone, works his way towards Browning, and caps it off by making a diving catch in the end zone. Credit is also due to Browning, who did a great job of scrambling away from pressure and then getting his shoulders turned properly to find Jones in the end zone. It seemed the Huskies’ receivers not named Dante Pettis struggled with the scramble drill last season, so it was nice to see it executed to perfection Saturday.