BY Art Thiel 07:14PM 10/28/2017

Thiel: Huskies had a plan to kibosh Josh Rosen

Back-to-back sacks of star QB Josh Rosen, including a corner blitz from Austin Joyner, did much to discourage the Bruins in Washington’s bounce-back rout of UCLA.

Washington’s Lavon Coleman had 94 yards and three TDs in 14 carries. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Preparing for the best quarterback the Huskies faced this season, coach Chris Petersen installed a couple of defensive wrinkles. One in particular wrinkled UCLA’s Josh Rosen, helping force him from the game. His absence didn’t change the outcome, but the sack the play produced certainly brightened the outlook of sophomore CB Austin Joyner.

In the second quarter of a 44-23 Washington triumph Saturday at Husky Stadium that was still in modest suspense, the rarely used corner blitz worked as designed, allowing the 5-10 Joyner an unimpeded shot on the 6-4, 218-pound Rosen, a pre-season All-America pick and Heisman Trophy candidate.

Joyner did not miss.

“We put in that blitz play earlier in the week,” Joyner said. “As soon as we (practiced) it, I was really looking forward to this. I knew it was going to come up.

“We (usually) don’t get to do that.”

On a third-and-13 from UCLA’s 44-yard line, a bad situation created by the previous play, a sack of Rosen by LB Benning Potoa’e, Joyner splattered Rosen again. The back-to-back sacks did three things: Damaged the Bruins’ will, damaged their quarterback, and thrilled the UW secondary, which was dealing with the injury absences of CB starters Byron Murphy and Jordan Miller.

“The cornerbacks,” said Petersen, grinning,  “they like that.”

Joyner said in the moment before impact, he saw Rosen falter.

“It looked like he went down a little early, before I got to him,” he said. “He was laying on the ground, and I could hear him grunting in pain. On the sidelines, guys were saying they thought he was hurt. I don’t know what happened.”

Rosen returned for the final series of the first half and the opener of the second half, but missed on all five pass attempts after the sacks. Bruins coach Jim Mora pulled him from the game in favor of redshirt freshman Devon Modster.

Mora, the former Seahawks coach and a player and graduate assistant at Washington under Don James, was vague on the injuries, which reportedly included a damaged finger.

“He took some hits,” he said. “He’s beat up. There’s multiple things going on. Our doctors felt it was best to keep him out and I respect that.”

That sealed the fate of the Bruins, whose defense is so awful, it is in no position to bail out a wounded offense.

The Huskies ran the ball on 58 of 70 scrimmage plays, amassing 333 rushing yards, including 169 from RB Myles Gaskin. The 12 pass attempts (nine completions) were the fewest since 1981, when the Huskies attempted 10 in a windy rainstorm that helped them beat USC, 13-3.

It was a freakish imbalance, but reminiscent in Petersen’s mind of the days of James, whose memory was honored Friday night with the unveiling of a statue of the Dawgfather outside the stadium’s main entrance.

“That game right there was in honor of Don James,” Petersen said, referring to reliance on the defense and running game. All it lacked was 40 degrees and rain. Instead it was serene  and sunny, baking many in the near sellout of 69,847 in rare October warmth.

The imposition of will was almost a complete turnaround from the last game, a 13-7 loss at Arizona State two weeks ago in which the Huskies were often outplayed physically, a rare circumstance under Petersen. Players insisted the mistake-prone ASU loss played no part in Saturday’s events, but there seemed little doubt that embarrassment was some factor.

“We played really, really well,” was how Petersen described the wounded pride. “We had a plan to run the ball and we stuck with it. I’m proud of how those guys played. It was good to get back on the field and get it done.”

DTs Vita Vea and Greg Gaines each had a sack and tackle for loss as they thoroughly disrupted the middle of UCLA’s field. Vea also batted two passes from Rosen, who finished 12 of 21 for 93 yards passing, and a minus-19 rushing, thanks to four sacks. Whatever was left of his Heisman campaign was squished under a pile of purple.

“You get Vita Vea and Greg Gaines falling on you, those are 300-some pound guys,” Joyner said of Rosen’s day. “That’s gonna hurt.”

To top all the sunshine, even fifth-year senior kicker Tristan Vizcaino returned from zombie-land, hitting all three field goal attempts and five PATs to end a grim set of misses in the season’s first half.

“He’s been kicking (well) for two weeks straight,” Petersen said. “He’s in a groove. He just needed to get out in front of 70,000 people and say, ‘See? I can do this,’ and away he goes.”

Rosen, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out how that little purple guy found a way into his grill.



  • 1coolguy

    The same issue that I saw in the “Bama game is what I see this season – Jake has a very average arm. His sideline passes are picks in the NFL and he doesn’t throw into tight windows well, due to a lack of zip. I had really thought the weight training staff and the QB coach would have gotten this improved in the off-season. It’s why Rosen and Darnold have been the 2 PAC-12 QB’s mentioned in the draft and Jake has been passed over. He knows what he is doing, game plan-wise, but if he had strengthened the arm, he might be gone after this year: He will definitely be here next year.

    • Husky73

      That average arm has thrown for over 8,000 yards, may surpass 10,000 and has won a lot of games. When he departs, he will own the Husky record book and will be the greatest QB ever to wear a Washington uniform.

      • wabubba67

        Stats back you up…but it’s a completely different era now. I’d still take Moon, Brunell, Pelleuer, and Hobert.

        • Talkjoc

          Hey, wabubba67, I know you can’t name them all but come on, give some love to the Huard Brothers. LOL.

          • wabubba67

            Thought about them, but was never a huge fan. Put them in the “honorable mention” category.

          • Talkjoc

            I CAN’T believe I forgot my all-time favorite Dawg. Sonny Sixkiller.

          • wabubba67

            Good call, but he was well before my time. He’s only a legend in my mind….and in The Longest Yard.

          • Husky73

            You all forget how good Tuiasosopo was…and how many games he won in the 4th quarter. And just for fun, look at Cody Pickett’s stats.

          • wabubba67

            Great call on Tui! I admit a lapse there. There may be others, too.

          • Husky73

            Keith Price was better than either of the Huards.

        • Husky73

          Yes…statistics….Brown has (or will) win the most games, throw for the most yards and for the most TD’s. He is a better COLLEGE quarterback than any of the others (all great Huskies) that you named.

          • wabubba67

            I’m not sure about “better” college quarterback. But with more opportunities in the current era, Browning’s statistics are impressive.

      • 1coolguy

        As a Cosell fan, “just tellin’ it like it is”. I do appreciate your home town bias, but the critics don’t even have Jake in the PAC-12’s top 3 – It is Rosen, Darnold and Falk. Why? His arm, nothing else. The guy can ID defenses with the best of them (college), studies film like an addict and is a leader. Bias aside, what is the deficit he is showing ALL national pundits, NONE of whom advise that he comes out this year?

        • Husky73

          You miss the point entirely…I don’t care about critics, NFL scouts, the draft, whether he plays in the NFL or not… a COLLEGE quarterback, Browning is the best ever to wear a Washington Husky uniform. And, he has many games to go.

    • Talkjoc

      I only rely on the “eye test”. IMO, Something isn’t right with JB. Is his shoulder still an issue? Did his Soph slump come as a junior? Am I being picky?

      • Husky73

        Four games to go, plus a possible Pac 12 title game, and a bowl game. And, he may be back for a full senior season. Twenty years from now (I most likely will be gone), folks will say, “Wow, what an incredible Husky career Jake Browning had. Best of all time.”