The Huskies are capable of playing a complete game, and they showed it on Saturday night. They turned Husky Stadium into a house of horrors for the Wildcats on Halloween night, and it was as dominant a performance for the program since they put up 69 points at Oregon State two years ago.
“They did whatever they wanted,” a shellshocked Rich Rodriguez told the media post-game when asked about the Washington offense. And on defense?
“They got off blocks,” he said. “Tackled well, covered well. We didn’t execute, didn’t call good plays. Didn’t do anything well, really.”
Rodriguez had already made his thoughts known about the late Saturday start, and his team played like they never got off the plane. After scoring three points on their first drive of the night, the ‘Cats were held to zero points and 265 total yards.
But the scoreboard was balanced in its lopsidedness; while the Dawg defense was holding Arizona to 200 yards and nearly 40 points below their season averages, the Huskies were feasting on offense. They came up with 150 more yards than they normally do, and they doubled up their season average for points.
There were so many firsts in Saturday night’s game, it’s hard to know where to begin:
The 49 points were the most in Pac-12 play in the Petersen era;
The 49 points were the most scored by UW against the Wildcats since 1991;
It was Jake Browning's first five-touchdown game;
It was Jake Browning’s first game with four passing touchdowns;
Brayden Lenius caught his first career touchdown, a five-yard fade;
Jojo McIntosh came up with his first career interception;
The first quarter touchdown from Browning to Dwayne Washington was the first touchdown scored by Washington in that period since the California game;
It’s the first time the Huskies have collected four turnovers in a game this season;
It’s the first time in league play the Huskies have used 10 receivers in a game.
“Been waiting for this one,” Petersen reiterated. “Thought it was a complete performance. I thought our defense was really, really good. I thought we got some things rolling on offense.
Offensively, so many of the things that had typically been warts on the backside of progress for most of the year seemed to magically disappear. The Huskies scored in the first quarter. They scored in the second quarter. They were four of five in their third-and-manageable situations, with three ending up in touchdowns.
And they came up with some scintillating explosive plays - six of them, to be exact. And that’s not counting Psalm Wooching's 41-yard run after Wildcat receiver Samajie Grant failed to come up with a backwards pass.
The Husky defense came up with three interceptions in the first half, a remarkable statistic because Arizona had thrown one interception the entire season leading up to Saturday night’s game. And outside of one long pass that accounted for 41 yards, the next longest offensive play for the 'Cats was 15 yards. The Dawgs really bottled them up.
In fact, after the Huskies surrendered an opening drive field goal, this is what Arizona’s drive chart looked like the rest of the game:
And when Rodriguez decided to pooch kick down 28-3 late in the third quarter, it was the Wildcats who had officially thrown up the white flag to match their white jerseys.
“I’ve been expecting that for a while,” said Petersen of his team’s performance. “The defense has been playing at a high level, but for whatever reason we haven’t really clicked on offense and got some things going tonight. That’s why my opening comment was ‘it’s about time’. That’s what we’ve been waiting for.
“We’ve seen it, we know how these guys practice, we know we have it in us. We’ve got some young guys that are inconsistent. It’s not a big thing, but those little things add up to big things and we stumble on ourselves so we’ve been waiting for this and hopefully we can build on it.”
The individual performances were led by Browning, the freshman quarterback who missed the Stanford game after sustaining a shoulder injury at the end of the Huskies’ 26-20 loss to Oregon. Instead of showing rust, Browning looked fresh and revitalized. Given some time to throw he took full advantage, completing 16 of 24 passes for 263 yards and four scores. With poise and precision, Browning sliced and diced the Wildcats’ secondary.
And when the Huskies got close to the goal line, it was Browning who called his own number. It looked like a called naked, but Washington Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith said Browning made a sight adjustment that played out perfectly.
““That was all him,” Smith said of Browning’s 13-yard touchdown ‘sneak’. “We were trying to sneak the ball. They crammed the box. He felt it was light on the left side and he just took off. That was all him.”
Defensively, it was Travis Feeney who embodied the Huskies’ energy and enthusiasm on that side of the ball. The senior BUCK did a little bit of everything Saturday night - a team-high 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass breakup. That’s the resume of a future Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week.
“Travis has got a lot of talent and skill and he’s a hard matchup for tackles,” Washington Defensive Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “His first step, he’s got a really good one. He had a nice game.”
To round out the performance, the Huskies did nothing to give Arizona any quarter. Everything the Wildcats got was the result of sustained effort. Washington had no turnovers, minimal penalties (including a very questionable pass interference on Brian Clay that led to Arizona’s field goal), and UW’s special teams won the field position game.
Arizona had starting field position outside their 27 only once, and that was when they were already down 28-3.
By any measure, the win by Washington over Arizona was comprehensive. But it doesn't mean anything come Monday. It will be on to the next challenge, and it will be a big one - Utah.
"I’m proud of these guys because I think these kids really felt the urgency earlier in the week," Petersen said. "They get it. They know. Everybody saw our schedule in October and all of those really tough teams we were playing and I think we’ve made some progress there this month.”