By Brent Stecker
Washington’s mojo is back.
Even though a midseason three-game losing streak did a lot of damage to their standing, the Huskies’ 52-7 dismantling of Colorado signaled a return to form for the team that started the season with four straight wins. Not only that, Washington improved to 6-3 to become bowl eligible.
Here’s a closer look at where the Huskies sit after Saturday’s win.
Keith Price accounted for four touchdowns and no turnovers in the first half of Washington’s win over Colorado. (AP)
Three things we learned:
1. Keith Price is back and better than ever.
The senior quarterback’s thumb issues garnered a lot of attention over the last month, but the bye week clearly did him a lot of good. Price was in rare form against the Buffaloes, completing 22 of 29 passes for 312 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.
The crazy thing is all of that came in the first half, as the Huskies didn’t attempt a single pass after halftime.
Price didn’t just excel through the air, however – he also rushed for 40 yards and two scores.
2. Washington’s secondary can straight-up take over games.
In three consecutive drives in the third quarter, this is what happened to Colorado: interception returned for a touchdown, interception returned to the Buffaloes’ 40, fumble returned for a touchdown. Each of those plays had a member of Washington’s secondary in the middle of it, or in the case of the first one, two members.
Because of Tre Watson’s 85-yard pick-six (which was initially tipped by Marcus Peters), Sean Parker’s fourth-and-1 takeaway, and Peters’ 52-yard scoop and touchdown return, the Huskies scored 21 points in a quarter where they didn’t even attempt a pass. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not easy to do.
3. The Cyler Miles-Dwayne Washington combination is worthy of excitement.
The redshirt freshman duo of quarterback Miles and running back Washington received some time to show what they could do in the fourth quarter, and they did not disappoint. Miles looked especially potent when running the read option – he amassed 45 yards on just two carries – and Washington was quite comfortable as the featured back, rushing for 57 yards and a score on four carries. Huskies fans, the future of the backfield is in good hands.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Can the Huskies keep up the pace?
Head coach Steve Sarkisian put an emphasis on the Huskies picking up their offensive pace during the bye week, and as a result they hit the 80-play mark for the first time since Oct. 5 against Stanford. The Huskies kept things as up-tempo as possible in the first half, and it paid off as they had 31 points by halftime.
The return of starting left guard Dexter Charles may have had something to do with it, though he did look rusty and was called for multiple penalties.
The Huskies’ tempo has slowed before this season, however, and it very well may again if things don’t go according to plan.
2. Will Austin Seferian-Jenkins continue to see a bigger role?
In the Huskies’ first game since wide receiver Kasen Williams was lost to a season-ending leg injury, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had his most productive offensive game of the year. Seferian-Jenkins had three receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Sarkisian praised his blocking in the run game.
Washington showed a lot of confidence in Seferian-Jenkins, opting to run a play for him from the 15 with 7 seconds to go in the first half rather than take the safe route and attempt a field goal. It worked like a charm, as he jumped to haul in Price’s pass in the end zone and increase the lead to four scores.
All signs point to Seferian-Jenkins continuing to get opportunities in the passing game, but then again, Washington’s final three opponents will likely be giving him extra attention as well.
3. Is Washington prepared for UCLA after two blowout wins?
The Huskies are now on a short week, as they’ll head to Pasadena to take on Jim Mora’s No. 13 Bruins on Friday. Washington may be feeling good after decisive wins over Cal and Colorado, but those are two of the weakest teams in the Pac-12. UCLA is a very different case, as its per-game averages for passing yards, rushing yards, points for and points against all rank in the top 40 in the nation. Suffice to say, the Huskies are in for a much different kind of game the next time they hit the field.