If you watched the Huskies two weeks ago, you could have skipped Saturday’s game.
The opponent wore green helmets instead of red, scored a half dozen more points, and ran out of the tunnel behind a cheerleader on a surfboard, but other than that — this was the same 60-minute affair.
Washington quarterback Jacob Eason dissected a middling defense, the Huskies’ running backs advanced at will, and apart from an absent third quarter, UW’s defense dominated.
In other words — we didn’t learn much of anything.
If you had any questions about the Huskies (2-1) before Saturday’s 52-20 win over Hawaii, you likely still have them now. They were able to stomp on a Mountain West foe as any Power 5 power should but revealed little beyond that.
Contenders are supposed to beat sparring partners, centers should have no trouble dunking on guards. All the Huskies could really do Saturday was disappoint — and they certainly didn’t do that.
“The first quarter was fun, the first half was fun, really the whole game was fun,” said Huskies tight end Hunter Bryant, who had five receptions, one touchdown catch and a game-high 115 receiving yards. “Games like that are always fun.”
Oh, they’re certainly entertaining for anyone sporting purple-and-gold face paint in the Husky Stadium stands. Saturday’s shellacking was basically a 60-minute victory lap for UW.
In many ways, it mirrored its 47-14 win over Eastern Washington in the season opener, when Eason showcased his physical prowess against subpar competition. Whether the Dawgs can replicate that against one of the better teams in the conference — or for that matter, country — remains to be seen.
We do know that last week’s one-point loss to Cal didn’t weigh the Huskies down against Hawaii. They announced that via six unanswered scores that put them up, 38-0, before the first half was complete.
There was a 47-yard dime from Eason to Bryant a minute and 16 seconds into the game, a 22-yard TD run by Sean McGrew less than two minutes later, then a 28-yard scoring pass from Eason to Puka Nacua with 6:02 left in the first quarter. Throw in a 37-pass from Eason to Aaron Fuller at the top of the second quarter, and you had a crowd whose larynxes were shot before they could hit the concession stands.
After struggling in the red zone against Cal last week, the 23rd-ranked Huskies opted to avoid it entirely over their first four scores Saturday. Does it mean much going forward? Probably not. But it will make for a popcorn-worthy film session Sunday.
“I’m pleased and proud of our guys,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said. “Hawaii can be an awkward challenge. We saw that in the second half.”
Yes, the Rainbow Warriors (2-1) did have a stretch that provided a tinge of suspense for anybody looking for it. A touchdown at the end of the second quarter, followed by two more on consecutive drives in the third made it 38-20 heading into the fourth.
It was a blemish on a game that was already in hand, but certainly not representative of the defense as a whole. Not when it had three interceptions, which included two by safety Myles Bryant.
In the end, the stat sheet glistened for Washington. Eason completed 18 of 25 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Salvon Ahmed rushed for 83 yards on eight carries, Sean McGrew added 63 yards on eight carries, and Richard Newton posted 29 yards and three rushing touchdowns on eight carries. The Huskies also forced three turnovers after going without a takeaway through its first two games.
Some might walk away impressed by the win given Hawaii’s home victories over Arizona and Oregon State, but it’s possible those are the two worst teams in the Pac-12.
This isn’t meant to disparage the Huskies’ showing Saturday. They earned a win over an FBS opponent that had beaten members of their conference, which is always a noteworthy feat. But with Washington reaching New Year’s Six Bowls in each of its past three seasons, folks in Seattle want to know what they can do against upper-echelon competition.
Next week in Utah, they might get some answers. The Huskies will meet BYU in Provo seven days after the Cougars beat 24th-ranked USC in overtime.
This Saturday’s game reminded fans that Washington is, in fact a team. Next Saturday’s will tell them just how good.