If Myles Bryant had his way, No. 23 Washington would roll out a defense filled with 11 defensive backs.
After thinking about it for a second, the senior strong safety recanted just a bit.
“All right, that’s not a smart move because teams would just run the ball,” he said, smiling. “You got to take on those 300-pound linemen.”
OK, so maybe 11 defensive backs is a little extreme, but Washington flooded Husky Stadium with six DBs on Saturday afternoon while holding a prolific Hawaii passing attack in check for a 52-20 win.
The Rainbow Warriors came into the game with two wins over Pac-12 teams and a run-and-shoot offense that averaged 428.5 passing yards and 38 points.
With the exception of three consecutive lengthy scoring drives, Washington stifled Hawaii while holding the Rainbow Warriors to 254 passing yards and 141 on the ground.
“For the most part, we did what we needed to, but those fourth downs kind of got us,” Bryant lamented. “If we could have gotten off the field, then that would have made things a lot easier.”
Hawaii, which converted 7 of 16 third downs, was 3 for 3 on fourth downs. On the Rainbow Warriors’ second touchdown, they converted twice on fourth down.
Otherwise, it was an impressive performance from the Huskies, which led 38-0 and held Hawaii scoreless on its first six drives.
Two of those drives ended with interceptions by Bryant, the first takeaways for UW’s defense this season.
In the fourth quarter, linebacker Kyler Manu deflected a pass across the middle and freshman free safety Cameron Williams collected the high-arcing rebound for UW’s third interception.
Like every defense in the country, the Huskies make it a priority to create turnovers, but they entered Saturday’s game with zero in the takeaway column.
“I don’t know,” coach Chris Petersen said. “I really don’t know. We work so hard on it every game. We had a couple of tipped balls. We work on that drill and it was nice to get some. The kids have been working for a long time to get these turnovers so hopefully they will keep coming in bunches. It changed the game for us.”
The Huskies converted the three turnovers into 17 points. The last pick resulted in a 1-yard plunge into the end zone by redshirt freshman Richard Newton, who finished with three touchdowns.
Bryant didn’t worry too much about the turnover drought because Eastern Washington and California combined to attempt just 68 passes against the Huskies.
Hawaii, which led the nation with eight turnovers, attempted 47 passes on Saturday and completed 26.
“There’s conversation about it, but there’s not much you can do except keep pressing forward,” Bryant said. “A lot of guys emphasize it, but offenses are good at keeping the ball. They understand that it’s going to be hard for them to throw the ball down field against us.
“The past couple of teams have been throwing a lot of lateral plays as well as running the ball. But I feel like good defenses create turnovers so it was an emphasis for us this week.”
On Hawaii’s second offensive play, Bryant jumped in front of a receiver for his first pick, which was the second of his career.
In the second quarter, he ripped the football away from receiver JoJo Ward for his second interception. That led to a 23-yard field goal from Peyton Henry and a 38-0 lead.
“I was just in a good position,” Bryant said. “The quarterback didn’t throw that good of a ball and he just gave me an opportunity to make a play. I would have liked to score, but I didn’t get a chance.
“Once a team starts getting turnovers, it just becomes a downhill thing and it keeps happening and happening. Hopefully, from this point on it just keeps going and going.”