BY Art Thiel 01:33AM 09/23/2018

Thiel: Huskies’ new WR stud helps erase blunder

After a game-opening gaffe, the Huskies pulled it together behind an improved passing game to beat Arizona State for only the second time in the past 13 meetings.

Falling back in the end zone under good coverage, Huskies TE Ty Jones hauled in a touchdown pass from Jake Browning. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Against Arizona State, a team that has beaten Washington 11 of the previous 12 meetings — including a 13-7 loss a year ago in Tempe that was the Huskies’ most inexplicable game of the 2017 season —  nothing can taken for granted, and every good thing must be cherished.

So despite a stylistically modest outcome, which began with an immodest dumpster-fire play, the 27-20 triumph Saturday night (box) at Husky Stadium was vital.

Another loss to the Sun Devils, and especially to their 64-year-old college-rookie coach, Herm Edwards, and coach Chris Petersen would have heard whiners in the purple constituency pining for Steve Sarkisian.

“It was a little different game that how we thought it would go,” Petersen said, referring mostly to ASU’s surprising emphasis on the run — 164 yards after doing little on the ground in the Sun Devils first three games. It kept them in the game almost as much as Petersen’s goofy gadget play on UW’s opening possession.

QB Jake Browning threw a backward pass to WR Andre Baccellia, who lofted a 14-yard balloon into double coverage that was easily picked by CB Chase Lucas, who returned it 19 yards for a first down at the Washington 20.

It took ASU seven plays, but they gained a 7-0 lead on the road as Petersen dabbed the last of the omelette off his face.

“That was on me,” Petersen said. “I wish we didn’t call it. We put our defense in a bad situation.

“But we’re going to take our chances. We’re not going to back away from that. We’ve made a lot of good plays over the years doing that stuff.”

Petersen has won more than he lost with gadgets. But after a 21-7 win last week at Utah that showed offensive vulnerability, going off the high dive with the first play seemed reckless even for him.

But by the end of the first quarter, the Huskies had the lead for good at 14-10 and few among the sellout of 71,200 were dwelling on the early spit-up.

A good part of that was due an improved air game between Browning and his growing posse of reliable receivers, the object of most of the preseason questions surrounding the conference favorite. In 22 attempts, he spread 15 completions among eight receivers. None of them are John Ross or Dante Pettis, but no one made a better catch than TE Ty Jones.

The Huskies’ tallest target at 6-foot-4, the sophomore from Utah was falling back in end zone under tight coverage but glommed both mitts upon the ball. The 19-yard score with 57 seconds left in the opening period put matters back on the rails.

“I’ll It felt great,” he said. “I’m gonna get chewed out in film this week because I was supposed to get farther towards the back pylon. But at least I caught the ball, so it’s not as bad.

“I just had to watch the ball into my hands. Sometimes I forget. It’s a fundamental.”

His memory seems to be improving. The two catches for 43 yards Saturday has him tied for second with Baccellia among UW receivers with 10 catches, 12 behind leader Aaron Fuller. But his 20.2 yards per catch average leads the group, as do his four TDs.

“As long as I stay calm and confident, a catch like that will help,” he said. “There were question marks around us before the season, but we knew this for a long time. It’s awesome to see.”

All touchdowns, including 11 yards to Fuller and six yards to TE Cade Otton, were precision passes from Browning, who is taking heat this season for his occasional mistakes. Saturday he made no turnovers, had a lone sack, and made good decisions on his sprints from the pocket.

“He threw the ball well and found guys, and when guys weren’t open he was able to scramble out of the pocket a bit more,” Petersen said. “He placed the ball nicely.”

“We have the same conversation every week — he’s made a lot of good plays. We just need to make sure he doesn’t crush our offense (with a bad play).”

Matters still need work — the Huskies had 150 yards after one quarter and 223 the rest of the way, thanks to some red-zone misfires — but with RBs Myles Gaskin (97 yards in 21 carries and Salvon Ahmed (71 in 10) finally deliveredthe one-two punch promised in August, Washington’s offense is edging toward something more than competent.

Considering what Petersen was saying a year ago after the ASU loss — “I don’t know why; it’s probably one of the more frustrating nights I’ve had on offense in a long, long time” — reducing the embarrassments to a single play is a major milestone.



  • Talkjoc

    Well we finally got to see Ahmed and , “yes please.” What a great one-two punch with Gaskin. Receiving Corp is starting to find its way. I like throwing to our tight ends. My only concern (seems like nit-picking) run tackling. Nice win. Final rant, Pac-12 “can we please get back to day games?”

    • coug73

      The vampires at ESPN say no day games.

  • 1coolguy

    I watched the Alabama / Texas A&M game and the Stanford / Oregon game – it was great watching games with QB’s who were so skilled. Jake would not start for any of these teams, and as for Herbert on Oregon, he is definitely the real deal, A win against him and Oregon in Eugene may be a bridge too far for Jake the Jxxx.

    • Effzee

      How do you pronounce Jxxx?

      • 1coolguy

        Ask Art

        • Effzee
          • 1coolguy

            Yes, this is what I look like when watching Jake, our 4th year starter, thank you. As a Husky alum and one that has been watching the Dawgs since the 1960’s, I just hope that by the end of the season he can step up and truly follow in the footsteps of his many QB predecessors, who were gamers and true leaders.

          • Husky73

            I’ll take Chris Petersen’s word about Browning’s toughness and leadership qualities.

          • 1coolguy

            Perhaps you missed the Penn State and Alabama games? If so, please watch the replays. I rest me case.

          • DaveinSeattle

            Yeah, Jake should have wiped the floor with those guys. Lame teams, terrible coaches, no pass rush. Shocker we lost (and that’s we, the whole team, not Jake).

    • Husky73

      Jake has beaten the Dux twice. Remember “the point?”

      • 1coolguy

        Yes, and those were incredibly satisfying wins, after years of embarrassment. If you watched the Oregon/Stanford game though, this Oregon team is remarkably better than last years, and Herbert is already mentioned as the #1 draft choice after his junior year, next year. he guy throws 30, 40 yard frozen ropes and runs like a half-back, is 6’6″, 240 and is the next excellent PAC-12 QB to go high in the draft.

        • Husky73

          Get back to us when when Herbert (and QB’s from Alabama, Texas A & M and Stanford) wins 32 games (and counting), passes for 75 TD’s and 10,000 yards.

          • 1coolguy

            Stats are for losers. It also helps to play for four years

    • jafabian

      Does it really matter whether or not Jake can start for another team? He’s the Huskies QB pure and simple. And unless you’re on the coaching staff for Alabama, Texas A&M, Stanford and Oregon you can’t say with certainty that he won’t start for them. I don’t get your hate for Browning. Are you an Oregon alum??

    • Realist

      Herbert? You mean the guy who threw six passes in OT, four of which were incomplete and the last of which was the game-losing INT?

      Clearly, he can’t come through in the clutch. Playing against the big boys is a little different than playing San Jose State or Bowling Green.

      • 1coolguy

        He was 25/27 in regulation time against Stanford. If you watched the game, you would have a different perspective.

        • Realist

          I watched the entire game. He choked in OT. If he was so awesome, he would have won it in regulation.

    • rosetta_stoned

      You don’t like Jake Browning.
      We get it already.

      • 1coolguy

        one work: OVERRATED