The Washington Huskies entered their season opener with question marks on both sides of the ball with fresh new faces in the mix.
On offense, the Huskies are replacing the longtime duo of departed stars Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin.
Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, the Huskies lost a total of nine starters from last year’s roster.
From the start of the game against the Eagles, the Huskies came out and set the tone early against their inferior opponent.
The defense saw the field first and in their first series, forced Eastern Washington to punt the ball to the Husky offense.
During the first drive, the Huskies capped off an 8 play, 55-yard march when redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton ran for a 23-yard TD run which put the Huskies up 7-0.
After that initial score on offense, the flood gates opened up which resulted in three more scores during the first half.
Junior quarterback Jacob Eason was simply phenomenal in his Husky debut and especially came out on fire to start the game.
“It’s awesome! I used to come to games as a kid and you know..have dreams. I was 45 minutes away and I used to watch Jake Locker wearing number ten and I wanted to be just like him. I can’t run as well as he can but no it’s great the fans that came out today, my family that was here..it’s just great to get that under my belt” Eason said.
He connected with senior wide receiver Andre Baccellia for a 50-yard TD strike which put the Huskies up 14-0.
Later in the first quarter, Eason hit senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller for a 7-yard spectacular 1-yard TD pass and the Dawgs were off to the races with a 28-0 lead.
The one blemish from the first half is when Eastern Washington receiver Andrew Boston caught a 64-yard TD from QB Eric Barriere.
Last season the Huskies didn’t allow a single pass completion over 40-yards.
Towards the end of the first half, Eason connected with senior wide receiver Chico McClatcher on a 10-yard slant TD which had the Huskies fully in control at 28-7 at halftime.
One big scare and area of concern for the Huskies in the first half was when senior center Nick Harris went down with an apparent knee injury and did not return to action.
“Any time you lose one of the guys you’ve relied on, really, for three or four years, it’s never easy. I think that guy is certainly the leader of this offense with how vocal he is. It was good to see Matteo Mele step up, but we’re hoping he’s Ok” Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said.
It will be an area of major concern going forward as the preseason All-American center is a vital piece to the Huskies offense this season.
At the start of the second half, the Huskies opened up with a 7 play, 73-yard scoring drive when Fuller caught an 18-yard TD pass from Eason.
The score put the Huskies up 35-7 and once again the Huskies established their tone at the start of the half.
What would ensue the rest of the half is a scoring onslaught that saw the Husky offense find it’s way and rhythm.
Junior running back Salvon Ahmed rushed for a 1-yard TD with 4:13 left in the 3rd quarter and the Huskies led 42-7 at that point.
At the start of the 4th quarter, the Eagles found some success on offense when they took the Huskies on a 14 play, 75 yard drive which resulted in a 4-yard TD rush by running back Antoine Custer.
The score cut the Husky into the Husky lead and the score was now 42-14 with 14:12 left in the game.
Midway through the quarter, sophomore placekicker Peyton Henry saw the field for the first time and connected on a 22-yard field which pushed the lead to 45-14.
As the Huskies were content to run out the clock and seal the victory, they would add two more points when true freshman outside linebacker Laiatu Latu recorded a 1-yard safety which gave the game it’s final score of 47-14.
The offense looked very solid and was very balanced throughout the game with the multiple sets and formations called by second year offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan.
570 yards were amassed by the Husky offense with 370 yards coming through the air and 200 yards on the ground.
Eason showed Husky fans a glimpse of the potential of this offense this season and what a quarterback with arm strength provides to the team.
He finished with a sensational stat line of 27 for 36, 349 yards and 4 TD’s. Eason set a record for his Husky quarterback debut with 349 yards passing.
“I feel like I executed the game plan to where the coaches were satisfied with it” Eason said.
Redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton ended up with 12 carries for 91 yards in his Husky debut and didn’t disappoint.
“He has been impressive since he has been here. He is a hard runner and that is why he was in that Wildcat position, he showed that right away. He puts his head down and legs keeps churning. The big thing about the running back position is vision that comes with it. I am anxious to put the tape on. I know that he was pushing the power forward a lot of the time. As soon as I leave here, I am going to watch some tape because there is a lot of things that you miss on the field. The tape is never as good as you think it is and it is never as bad as you think it is.” Washington head coach Chris Petersen said afterwards.
Junior tight end Hunter Bryant led the receiving corps with 6 receptions for 81 yards.
Defensively the Huskies looked good in certain areas and in others will need to improve upon their first effort of the season.
They held the Eagles to a total of 274 yards, 211 passing and only 63 yards rushing.
A big stat for the Huskies was the 9 tackles for loss resulting in 43 yards total.
The young secondary had some teaching moments with pass interference calls and missed tackles which resulted in a long touchdown score.
It was good for the young defense to get it’s feet with with game experience and now they will know what to expect going forward.
Overall it was a good start to the season for the Huskies. They took care of business and were able to play multiple players along the way.
Eason provided Husky Nation with an excitement and hope on offense for the season that hasn’t manifested itself on Montlake for quite some time.
“When he gets his feet set, he can sling it” Petersen said.
The Huskies will look at the game film and clean up some things and get ready for their conference opener next weekend.
Next up for the Huskies is their matchup with the California Bears next Saturday, September 7th at 7:30 p.m. at Husky Stadium.
Washington vs. Eastern Washington Final Game Stats
Below is the actual video of the Chris Petersen Postgame Press Conference…..