Washington vs. Utah Game Grades

The Washington Huskies squared off against the Utah Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game, with a berth to the Rose Bowl on the line.

It was a defensive clash, as both teams showed why their elite defenses were the reason they made it to the championship game.

The Husky offense was able to move the ball throughout the game but was unable to convert once it got into the red zone.

Defensively, the Huskies completely dominated Utah as they held their offense to 188 total yards for the entire game.

With a hard-fought 10-3 win, the Huskies clinched the Pac-12 Title and will start their preparations for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

We will now take a look at how each position group for the Huskies fared last night and also how the coaching staff graded out…..


Overall it was a good night for senior quarterback Jake Browning.  He started off a little shaky with trying to force a couple of throws, that should have resulted in interceptions.  Browning finished with a stat line of 21 of 33 for 187 yards and 0 TD’s.  Sure there were some missed throws, but down the stretch of the game, Browning was able to extend drives with his legs.  He took what the defense gave him with his check downs, and kept his team in position to win the game.  B


While the Huskies gained 119 yards on the ground, it was tough sledding all night long for the Huskies.  It wasn’t that this position group played bad, but rather Utah’s deliberate plan to sell out and stop senior running back Myles Gaskin at all costs.  Even though Gaskin only ran for 71 yards on 23 carries, his runs helped open up the passing game down the field for Browning.  It wasn’t a normal dominating performance as of late, but this group did just enough to be effective.  B-


This was a game where explosive plays down they field were few and far between.  With the constant pressure that Utah was bringing all game long, the screen game was the game plan.  Junior wide receiver Andre Baccellia has really played well lately and last night he was the central figure in the passing game.  He was  effective with his quick bursts in the screen game.  Aaron Fuller came back to life a bit with a long reception of 35 yards.  It wasn’t a highlight night for this group with some crucial drops but it still was effective.  B


Opening up holes in the running game for Myles Gaskin to run through was tough all night for the offensive line.  Going up against the stout defensive line of Utah, it was often tough to completely block them throughout the game.  Browning had a ton of pressure coming at him all night long but the offensive line did just enough to allow him to make some throws down the field.  Some crucial holding calls set the Huskies back offensively but nothing they couldn’t recover from.  B


Coming into the game, a big factor was containing Utah QB Jason Shelley and not letting him break contain on the edge.  This position group did a great job of staying in their gaps and putting pressure on the pocket all night long.  By being effective with only three down linemen, it gave defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake the ability to drop more players into coverage, which was a daunting task for Utah to try to handle.  Senior Greg Gaines continues to be a beast up front!  A


With the secondary covering up everything down the field, the linebackers group was able to handle everything in the intermediate part of the field.  Senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven ended up with 10 total tackles on the game and swarmed to the ball all night long.  It would have been easy for this group to do too much and leave their gaps.  They contained the dink and dunk game and kept everything in front of them in mop up duty.  Getting a more consistent pass rush off the edge is still a major need for this team.  B+


The obvious storyline of this game was the play of the secondary, more specifically that of sophomore cornerback Byron Murphy and senior cornerback Jordan Miller.  Murphy had the game changing play with his interception that he returned for a touchdown.  He imposed his will all game long with two interceptions and a pass breakup, which earned him the MVP of the game award.  Miller showed his senior leadership last night with an interception of his own, at a time when the Huskies needed to change momentum!  A


On a whole, it was a good night for the special teams unit.  A huge play was the opening kickoff of the second half, when freshman defensive back Dominique Hampton made a tackle on Utah wide receiver Britain Covey and knocked him out of the game.  Junior punter Joel Whitford punted the ball well and pinned Utah down on a crucial punt when the game was on the line.  The only real knock on this group was the blocked punt for a second consecutive week, which needs to get fixed very quickly!  B-


Give the coaching staff credit for their ability to get the team focused to play, one week after their emotional win against the Washington State Cougars.  The margin for error during the end of the season has been extremely thin.  The coaches have done an outstanding job of keeping the team focused on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!  Jimmy Lake had a masterful plan in shutting down Utah’s offense and making backup QB Jason Shelley feel the pressure.  Offensively, coordinator Bush Hamdan did a good job of adjusting to the running game being held in check.  He found ways to move the ball just enough to stay in the game.  Head coach Chris Petersen is an elite coach and kept the season together when it could have imploded along the way! A


In a season where so much praise and high expectation was bestowed upon them, the team was able to salvage their season and end on an extremely high note.  The expectation every year is to win conference championships and make the Rose Bowl and the Huskies were able to accomplish that.  Yes..they were supposed to make the College Football Playoff but after that was no longer possible.  Rather, they kept themselves focused and now are able to enjoy a Rose Bowl berth!  Finishing the season 4-0 after a couple of disappointing losses says a lot about the character and resolve of this team!  What was impressive was winning two big games back-to-back on the big stage with Washington State and Utah.  Huge props to both the players and the coaches!  Truly a team effort all the way around!  A