Once again, it looked like the Huskies had it, until both the offense and defense broke down. The first half saw Washington outplaying the No. 9 Utes, but like it did against Oregon, UW couldn’t get out of its own way and took a second straight loss.
With Saturday’s 33-28 loss to Utah, the Huskies fell to 5-4 on the season, and three of those losses have come at home. Here’s a look at what went wrong.
Turnovers costly for Washington, not so much for Utah
Spectacular as Huskies quarterback Jacob Eason was at times for the Huskies, he committed three crucial turnovers. The first came on a first-quarter fumble on Washington’s 15-yard line, which led to a Utah field goal. The second came on a third-quarter interception on Utah’s 8, which was thrown into triple-coverage and likely cost the Huskies at least three points. The third and most egregious came later in the third, when defensive back Jaylon Johnson picked Eason off and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown.
UW, meanwhile, forced two fumbles but couldn’t capitalize on either. The Huskies followed the first with a three-and-out, and the second with Eason’s pick-six.
Pass rush worked early, fell apart late
Utah came into the game having allowed just seven sacks all season, which was the sixth-lowest total in the nation. The Huskies managed to get four in the first half alone.
Tuli Letuligasenoa got one in the first quarter, as did Jason Shelley and Bennin Potoa’e. Joe Tryon added one in the second quarter as UW held the Utes to three points through the first 28 minutes. The fact that the Utes gave up that many sacks to anyone was surprising, but particularly so with Washington The Huskies came into the game with 16 sacks all season, which ranked 72nd in the country and tied for eighth in the Pac-12.
But from there on, the pressure disappeared. Utah’s lone touchdown in the first half came on a drive in which it avoided taking a sack. And the Huskies weren’t able to take down quarterback Tyler Huntley in the second half as Utah moved the ball with ease.
Utah won the conversion battle
On fourth-and-one from Utah’s 45, the Huskies threw an incomplete pass. That led to a Utes’ field goal, which cut their deficit to one at halftime. In the second half, Utah made key conversions to pull away. On the drive that put it ahead 26-21, Utah got first downs out of a third-and-three and third-and-12. On the drive that put it ahead 33-21, Utah converted on a third-and-eight and a third-and-six before scoring on third-and-goal from the 2.
The Huskies, meanwhile, couldn’t convert late, missing on a third-and-nine and third-and-eight in the second half, which resulted in punts and the loss of the lead.