BY Art Thiel 11:36PM 09/29/2018

Thiel: Burr-Kervin leads a UW slap-down of BYU

The Huskies’ little linebacker with the big motor had the game’s key play in a 35-7 domination of BYU that was Washington’s most complete effort of the season.

LB Ben Burr-Kervin (25) helped keep BYU QB Tanner Mangum to 160 yards passing. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

In the final seconds of the first half, after the Huskies missed a short field goal to keep their lead at 14-0, BYU was in desperate search for a way to avoid irrelevance. Instead, they ran into Mr. Irrepressible.

Actually, LB Ben Burr-Kervin caught them from behind. The national defensive player of the week roared up along the sideline behind RB Lopini Katoa as he crossed the BYU 20.

“They were running a little outside run at the boundary, and I just came up behind and hit the ball out of his hands,” Burr-Kervin said. “It came right out, and once it’s on the ground, let’s hope we can get it.”

Teammate Jojo McIntosh did. Three plays later, with five seconds left until halftime, Jake Browning bounced a quarterback draw up the middle for nine yards and a soul-crushing touchdown that put the 11th-ranked Huskies up 21-0 and the 20th-ranked Cougars down for the night, eventually building a 35-7 triumph (box) at Husky Stadium.

“Play of the game,” said Huskies coach Chris Petersen of Burr-Kervin’s swat. It didn’t match the breadth of the 20 tackles a week earlier against Arizona State that won him national recognition, but it was another example of his uncanny knack for big plays for a bitty guy.

“He’s smart, crafty and fierce — a good combo for a linebacker,” Petersen said.  “The No. 1 (worry)  when we were recruiting him was whether he could stay healthy. He throws his body in there, and he’s not the biggest guy (6-0, 221 pounds).

“We thought he was a really, really good player. That’s why we started him last year.”

This season, with a star-filled UW secondary, Burr-Kervin, from Menlo Park, CA., has become the biggest force on a defense that has given up 21, 3, 7, 20 and 7 points in their five games.

BYU’s wild collection of formations, jet sweeps and misdirection turned out to be mostly piffle against a disciplined group.

“We played our best game of the season, by far,” Burr-Kervin said. “They were shifting, using smoke and mirrors to try to get your eyes out of alignment. We did a pretty good job from the outset of knowing what they were trying to do.We shut down a lot of their sweeps. They had to go deeper into their playbook and throw more than they wanted.

“You want to have a game like this, where by the third quarter you feel pretty good about it.”

For a team that beat powerhouse Wisconsin, then ranked sixth, at formidable Camp Randall, BYU was remarkably docile.

Tanner Mangum was in the long tradition of “mature” BYU quarterbacks who typically drive a Volvo station wagon with three kid seats and have mortgages and life insurance, but he played a little scared. The fifth-year senior completed 18 of 21 passes, but his throws were mostly little floaters. Of his 160 yards in the air, only two receptions were more than 12 yards.

While the defense nearly pitched a shutout — a punt muffed by Chico McClatcher gave BYU a short field for its only TD with four minutes left — Browning led an offense that operated at season-high efficiency.

“That’s the Jake we see all the time,” Petersen said, taking a shot at critics who dwell on Browning’s big mistakes. “When the offensive line blocks like they do, and
he can sit back there and really look at things. he’s a hard guy to stop.”

In his fourth season, Browning had himself a night of milestones.

A nine-yard pass to TE Drew Sample in the second quarter — his 11th completion in 11 attempts — lifted Browning past Cody Pickett (10,220) as Washington’s career leader in passing yardage. He’s 15th in Pac-12 history with 10,347 yards. He was also the sixth player in conference history to account for 100 touchdowns running (14) and passing (86).

His evening’s remarkable total of 23 completions in 25 attempts (92 percent) missed by one the NCAA single-game record for completion percentage, and became second in UW history to Tom Flick’s 16 of 17 against Arizona in 1980.

Dominance on both sides of the ball was a breakthrough for Huskies, who have been good but more erratic than expected for team so experienced. Saturday at UCLA (4:30 p.m., FOX) they catch the Bruins on the downstroke — 0-4 under new coach Chip Kelly after a 38-16 loss to Colorado — before going to Oregon for what at the moment looks like the game of the Pac-12 season.

Nearly as rare for them as it was for Mariners starters, the Huskies needed a complete game. Said Browning:  “I thought we were primed and ready for a breakout performance.”

Having broken out all season, Burr-Kervin wonders what kept them.



  • ll9956

    Great win for the Dawgs! The pre-game reports about BYU having a really stout defense and being very physical proved to be overblown, or was it a great performance by the Huskies’ offensive line, which gave Jake a generous amount of time to make his throws and blocked really well for the running backs. This was in striking contrast to the Auburn game.

    That said, there were a few, fortunately inconsequential, hiccups: two missed FGs and two fumbles (one recovered). All of these are fixable.

  • coug73

    The mature Mormon men were not fast enough to play with the Dawgs.

  • 1coolguy

    Art – You have been around athletes more than the rest of us combined – If Ben is deemed too small for the NFL, what other position, given his amazing attributes (killer mentality, burst speed, doing everything to win, athleticism, etc) would you think he could stick on an NFL roster? I’m thinking FB and special teams. What say you?

  • 1coolguy

    gWhat I saw in this game were a few things:
    – The O line gave Jake an amazing amount of time – he was rarely pressured, so the O line gets the game ball
    – The play calling was FINALLY varied and fit Jake’s ability to perform. I don’t recall passes over 20 yards. This may have been the game with Hamdan putting it all together, which is exciting.
    – BYU’s defense was much softer than their record indicated. The only D player that impressed was the 6’9″ giant at left end – McGary was in a battle all game.
    – BBK was his usual incredible self, and the rest of the D gave BYU no options whatsoever – hats off to the players AND to the coaches preparing them.

  • Husky73

    I hope this game puts the “Browning Fatigue” folks on quiet mode for a while. The Huskies have played over 100 years of football, and he’s the best QB in UW history.

    • 1coolguy

      Apparently you never saw Moon (Hall of Famer, 5 Grey Cups, 17 years NFL, Rose Bowl winner), Hobert (NCAA Championship QB), Chandler (SB QB, 17 years NFL), Huard (12 year NFL QB), Brunell (Rose Bowl winner, successful 18 year NFL QB), Millen (Orange Bowl winner, 10 year NFL QB) and there are others.
      You must have has a SERIOUS memory lapse to think Browning would have started in place of these QB’s.
      As CP said in his after game presser, given the number of starts Jake has had and the offensive game plans, he should be the leader.
      Oh, and BTW – the passing yardage record he just set in his 44th game was set by Pickett over his 38 gams, some as a backup his first 2 years..
      I am the first to admit Jake had a nice game and I hope he excels the rest of the season, but don’t hang the UW QB GOAT collar on the guy.

      • Husky73

        I saw them all, beginning with Bob Schloredt. I have no interest in debating Browning’s NFL potential, or the NFL (or CFL) careers of others. Taken as a complete body of work, Jake Browning is the greatest quarterback in Husky history. Most wins, most yards, most TD’s and most completions.

    • Effzee

      The game is different now. His stats are a product of starting for four years and the kind of offense that Coach Pete runs. He will end his football days with a great Husky career, but he is far from the best QB in UW history.

  • jafabian

    Love how Coach Pete supported Jake yesterday. A definite shot at Browning’s critics and I’m always amazed that there are any. Where he’ll rank among UW quarterbacks only history will tell and it’s too early right now to say. It will help him if a WR could step up and become a definitive number one a la John Ross and Dante Pettis. I thought that would be Chico McClatcher but now I’m wondering just how healthy he is since he isn’t getting many receptions.

    The defense is very fun to watch. Reminiscent of the Seahawks defense back in the day. Hopefully they can ride this defense to the PAC-12 title and more.

  • Realist

    It’s Burr-Kirven.