Washington required a last-ditch punt return for a touchdown to survive their last trip to Salt Lake City but had no need for such heroics this time around as the No. 10 Huskies never trailed in an eventual 21-7 win over Utah on Saturday night that was anything but pretty for either side.
Neither quarterback will want to review tape of the effort as both faced pressure on nearly every snap and compounded problems with bad decisions such as the one Jake Browning made below:
That wild play in the fourth quarter could have been a momentum changer for the Utes but they failed to convert on fourth down near the end zone and wound up empty-handed in the entire sequence. Browning wound up finishing the night with 155 yards and a touchdown throw but it was anything but a sharp performance from the senior who was supposed to play a big role in the team returning to the top of the Pac-12 standings.
Luckily for head coach Chris Petersen he still had a strong running game and a feisty defense to complement it. Tailback Myles Gaskin continued his assault on school and conference record books by racking up 143 yards and scored the first points of the game by diving over the pylon on the opening drive. Safety Taylor Rapp was all over the field defensively and recovered a pair of fumbles, one in each half.
Utah’s defense was also the team’s strength for the most part and did so with at least one starter leaving due to injury and two others getting tossed for targeting. The group continually kept the Utes in the game as it wore on and the entire unit was particularly impressive up front as they seemed to cause some havoc on just about every play.
In the end though, it was once again the offense that proved to be Utah’s biggest issue. QB Tyler Huntley threw for only 138 yards and also had an interception while looking a lot more dangerous on the ground (49 yards rushing). Running back Zack Moss had an early touchdown run and finished with 67 yards on the night but was kept in check for the most part in the second half.
If there was any silver lining for the home team in Salt Lake, it was that the loss by no means wrecks the Utes’ Pac-12 campaign given the state of the South division at the moment. Both USC and Arizona are 1-2 and the rebuilding project Chip Kelly is going through at UCLA looks like it is off to a rough start. Herm Edwards does have a big win at Arizona State under his belt but who knows how things will have played out by the time the two meet in Tempe in November.
Washington will count the game as a win but the effort won’t be encouraging at all to the die-hard Huskies fans out there. While many thought an undefeated run through the Pac-12 slate would still keep those slim Playoff hopes alive, that will not come to fruition at all if the team doesn’t pick things up offensively after such a lackluster effort on the road.