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Offense Clicks, Defense Suffocates: BYU Instant Reactions

Washington took its time to build a lead but smothering defense never let BYU get into the game.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Take a bow, Jake Browning.

Or is it Dr. Browning? You would have to forgive fans for confusing him with a surgeon the way he played tonight. The senior was masterful, completing 23/25 passes—a school record for completion percentage. Oh, and he also passed Cody Pickett to become Washington’s all-time leader in passing yards.

A few penalties aside, his play was emblematic of the entire offense: sharp, clean, poised. Aaron Fuller, Drew Sample, and Andre Baccellia continually located space in the defense for Jake to find them time and time again. The offensive line covered up BYU defenders all night and opened holes for Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Sean McGrew to get upfield.

Oddly enough, it was the running backs putting points on the board initially and not Browning. Salvon Ahmed scored in the 1st quarter in what was Washington’s first red zone rushing TD vs. an FBS opponent this season. The quarter ended 7-0, with Washington’s defense controlling BYU despite Tanner Mangum completing 7/7 passes. The second quarter looked like it would be much more of the same and end at 14-0. But Ben Burr-Kirven was having none of it.

Washington had just concluded a disappointing red zone trip but BBK and Ryan Bowman combined to force a fumble on Tanner Mangum. This time facing 1st and goal, Jake Browning kept the ball on a 9-yard draw and just like that it was 21-0.

Washington wasted no time in the 2nd half, forcing a quick 3-and-out after a Taylor Rapp sack on BYU’s first possession. The Huskies promptly marched down the field on a 7-play drive capped by Drew Sample’s TD catch, after some nice work outside the pocket from Jake Browning. The defense was everywhere on BYU’s next drive, forcing another quick punt. Eight plays and 80 yards later, it was 35-0 Huskies.

Unfortunately any chance at a shutout was lost after Chico McClatcher muffed a punt, giving BYU the ball in the red zone. The Huskies couldn’t get the goal line stop on 4th down and BYU got their first points with just seconds remaining in the game. Chico owes the defense dinner, at least. Despite the obvious miscue there, he does seem to be rounding back into form after some tough injuries last season.

The Huskies are now 4-1, and have won 18 straight non-conference home games. Up next is a crucial two-game conference road trip: first to the Rose Bowl to play UCLA, and then a visit to Autzen to face Oregon.

Instant Dots

  • Much of the credit for the offensive success has to go to the line. Kaleb McGary’s three holding calls aside, they kept Jake Browning clean and the run game moving. They were excellent tonight.
  • Despite another dominant defensive performance, the lack of pass rush and inability to get off the field on 3rd downs has to be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
  • Benning Potoa’e continues to have a strong season and is crucial in how Washington sets the edge of defense.
  • The tight end combination of Drew Sample and Cade Otton has been working really well for Washington, in both the pass and run game. Sample in particular found a soft spot in BYU’s zone right over the middle and was a constant outlet for Browning.
  • Salvon Ahmed got 10 carries, and turned them into 86 yards and 2 TDs. Speaking of players buying each other dinner, he owes Nick Harris, who fell on Ahmed’s fumble way downfield on his longest run of the night.
  • Tough night for Peyton Henry, who was 0/2 on field goals.
  • Nice to see Brandon Wellington healthy and get some snaps at linebacker.
  • It finally feels like Washington is beginning to find itself offensively, as the offensive line is starting to gel and Bush Hamdan settles in as offensive coordinator. The red zone issues aren’t completely gone but the offense feels more comfortable there than earlier in the season.
  • Speaking of Hamdan, he has to feel a sense of redemption on Jake Browning’s rushing TD. After a failed QB draw against Auburn, this went exactly as planned and caught the BYU defense completely off guard.
  • Shoutout to the defensive line in this game, who were simply immense. BYU got absolutely nothing going on the ground, with 28 rushes for 34 yards. As always, Greg Gaines was the anchor in the middle.
  • Same goes for the linebackers—BBK and Tevis Bartlett were flying around tonight.
  • Chris Petersen announced after the game that senior DT Shane Bowman broke a bone in his foot and will miss “multiple weeks.”