Finally, the uncertainty surrounding Washington’s offense gave way, in rapid-fire succession, to a certain measure of production. This is what a home opener against a lower-division opponent is supposed to be.
Finally, the uncertainty surrounding Washington’s offense gave way, in rapid-fire succession, to a certain measure of production.
This is what the Huskies want the scoreboard to look like, and this is what a home opener against a lower-division opponent is supposed to be: a 49-0 rout over Sacramento State in a game in which Jake Browning made a memorable debut at Husky Stadium and the UW defense posted its first shutout in two years.
Browning, the first true freshman to ever begin a season as the Huskies’ starting quarterback, wasn’t perfect on an otherwise perfect, 80-degree afternoon before a crowd of 55,010. But he’s throwing and growing and, afterward, he was giggling a bit, too.
Playing behind improved protection from a rebuilt offensive line, Browning threw for 326 yards and the first two touchdowns of his UW career. And if he hadn’t stumbled over his own feet, he might’ve had his first rushing touchdown, too.
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With his maturity and never-let-’em-see-you-blink attitude, Browning has done much to win over teammates in a short amount of time; those teammates also were quick to notice his fall on the second-quarter read-option keeper, and they gave him all kinds grief over it on the sideline.
“I don’t even know,” Browning said afterward, shaking his head and trying to stifle a laugh. “I’m going to have to watch it on film, but it probably doesn’t look real athletic.”
Browning had gained 6 yards on that fourth-and-one run, so there was much to like despite the stumble. Better yet, on the next play Dwayne Washington ran in from 11 yards out for the first of his two touchdowns, extending UW’s lead to 21-0. It was their third touchdown in a little more than nine minutes of game action.
The Huskies (1-1) were at their best on their next possession, after getting the ball back on their own 10-yard line with 1:59 left in the half. Browning completed all five of his passes on the drive in a textbook execution of the two-minute offense: His first two passes went to Jaydon Mickens and Dante Pettis before he connected with tight end Joshua Perkins for three consecutive plays to the Sacramento State 1-yard line. Dwayne Washington then ran in for his second TD, pushing UW’s lead to 28-0 with 43 seconds left in the half. The rout was on.
The Huskies finished with 544 yards of offense on 61 plays. Frustrated after the Huskies’ season-opening loss at Boise State a week earlier, Browning said his mindset was simple entering the home opener: “Just do your job,” he said, “and win the game.”
Browning’s first touchdown pass as a Husky was a memorable one: a 78-yard completion to senior Marvin Hall, who hauled in the pass near midfield after it was deflected through the hands of a Sacramento State defensive back.
“Jake is a great guy,” Hall said. “He’s always uplifting; he’s positive, always, and he’s always coming to work. He’s going let you know, ‘We can be friends right now, but at the end of the day we’re here to win games.’ And that’s what we love about him.”
Led by true freshman Myles Gaskin, who rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns, the Huskies’ run game came to life, finishing with 218 yards after posting a meager 29 yards — and no offensive touchdowns — against Boise.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Huskies scored a touchdown on seven of their next eight possessions Saturday.
“I think it was just good for those guys to go out and score some points,” UW coach Chris Petersen said of his young offense. “Confidence is just everything in this game. It just really is. So we gained some confidence today, I know that.”
The UW defense continued to build off its stout second half against Boise State, holding the Hornets (1-1) to just 11 yards rushing on 26 attempts (with three sacks for a loss of 24 yards). The shutout was UW’s first since a 56-0 victory over Idaho State, another lower-division opponent, in September 2013.
By late in the third quarter, after Browning threw a 49-yard TD pass to freshman Chico McClatcher, the Huskies were pulling most of their starters.
Against an overmatched Big Sky team, UW’s young offense finally started to come together. For one day, anyway, the Huskies looked comfortable, and they’re quickly gaining confidence.
|Slow start, fast finish|
|The Huskies and Hornets were scoreless after one quarter before UW turned it on offensively in the second and third quarters:|
|Category||1st quarter||Middle 2 quarters||Game total|