Washington didn’t answer any questions that were asked after the loss to USC. Chris Petersen did say at halftime that he liked the way his team responded to the loss, but the Huskies didn’t respond by playing at the top of their game. Through that, the Dawgs were still able to pull away with an easy 44-18 victory.
Jake Browning continued to struggle, missing his receivers at times and throwing two picks, both in the first half. One was a ball that, though thrown high, should have been caught by Dante Pettis. Another was a ball that should have been intercepted because it wasn’t a good play by the sophomore quarterback.
All of the the hand-wringing over the Huskies’ offense had zero bearing over this individual game, however. The defense lived up to its billing and then some. Kevin King in particular had what might go down as the best play of the season for the Huskies. Browning was saved from a pick-six after he was blocked in the back at the three-yard line. Washington’s defense was keeping the Sun Devils from advancing into the purple zone.
If there is a cornerback in the Pac-12 I wouldn’t attack with a fade route it would be Kevin King. Manny Wilkins disagrees with my assessment, and it ended poorly for him. It ended fantastically for King and the Huskies, however.
King’s ball skills are on a different level than most defensive backs, and combining that with his length and fluidity makes him an NFL prospect.
The offensive burden was carried by Chico McClatcher, with the first Washington touchdown coming on a screen that allowed him to sprint 75 leisurely yards to paydirt. The second Browning pass for six was a deep bomb to Dante Pettis. Though a bit underthrown, Pettis had burned the defensive back so badly that he was able to score anyway from 46 yards out.
The receiving trio wouldn’t be complete without John Ross being the star of the show, however. He finished with a career-best 12 catches, though for only 95 yards.
The Husky run game was removed from milk cartons after going missing against the Trojans, though it wasn’t dominant in the least. Chunk runs by Gaskin and Coleman were sprinkled in with all-too-frequent carries for loss. The final line for the Husky running backs, Gaskin in particular (16 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD), was very good, but it didn’t portray the inconsistent ground game.
The best unit for Washington was the defense. Missing Joe Mathis and Azeem Victor didn’t make a difference for one game. Wilkins was affected by pressure all game, and the running backs were never able to get on track. ASU’s O-line played the part of turnstiles for most of the contest. Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea in particular showed why they themselves are future NFLers. Sidney Jones also plays for the Huskies.
Arizona State was able to get some offense come garbage time, but it was too late and the damage had been done. They were able to get in a backdoor cover, for those who care about that.
- Chris has touched on it a few times, but something is wrong with Jake Browning. He went up against one of the worst pass defenses in the entire country and threw two interceptions. He was high with throw after throw; he missed multiple out routes and didn’t hit a single deep target on time and on target, underthrowing each to a degree.
- The Husky secondary features four future NFL draft picks, assuming Taylor Rapp develops as we expect. Sidney Jones and Kevin King are each going to be ballhawks at the next level and Budda Baker might be the best of the entire bunch. With Azeem Victor and JoJo McIntosh out, the Dawgs played a rotation at safety, with Baker playing much more around the line of scrimmage to make up for the loss of Victor in run defense. Baker is in the Tyrann Mathieu mold in that he will play anywhere in a defensive backfield and do it extremely well.
- John Ross has really developed as a receiver; that much we have seen. Before the year, nobody would have envisioned him catching 12 balls in a game. I personally couldn’t see him holding up to that kind of a pounding. His longest catch of the 12 was for only 14 yards. He couldn’t have had that kind of performance in his career before he bulked up.
- Washington still controls its destiny and should make it into the Playoff with victories in the Apple Cup on Friday and then with a Pac-12 Championship.