UW football buoyed by blowout before USC showdown

The Huskies’ throttling of BYU raised their spirits. Now, the Trojans loom.

  • Monday, September 23, 2019 9:09pm
  • Sports

By Tim Booth

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Before the season began, it seemed clear Washington’s first three games would reveal less about this Huskies team than the five games that followed.

So there was increased optimism about the No. 17 Huskies’ place in the Pac-12 after a 45-19 blowout win at BYU — the first of those five significant tests.

The Huskies (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) went on the road for the first time and overwhelmed the Cougars on Saturday, a week after BYU had beaten USC. Jacob Eason completed 13 consecutive passes at one point and threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns.

The Huskies also got touchdowns from their defense on a fumble return and from their special teams on Aaron Fuller’s 88-yard punt return. Sean McGrew rushed for 110 yards filling in at running back in the absence of Salvon Ahmed.

Now comes the next test as the Huskies visit No. 21 USC on Saturday.

“I think this team we’re going to play is really improving and they’ve got a lot of skill and this will be our biggest challenge so far,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said Monday.

The way the schedule has played out, Washington has had time to adjust to a new starting quarterback and running back as well as new faces in the secondary. The one significant stumble was the Week 2 loss to California in the conference opener that appeared to change some of the narrative about the Huskies’ season.

They were supposed to be 3-0 going to BYU, not already saddled with a loss. But the performance in Provo seemed to settle any worries that followed the early setback to the Golden Bears.

“It was good to get my first road game under my belt. The crowd noise was there, there were some good situations in the game that went well, so pretty solid,” Eason said after the BYU victory. “Our offensive line did a great job of keeping me upright and our receivers made some great plays. Our running backs ran the ball. Overall, it was a pretty solid performance.”

With the exception of some missed opportunities and dropped passes in the loss to Cal, Eason has been everything that could be expected through the first month. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and is averaging 265 yards per game. Perhaps most impressive, Eason is completing 73% of his passes.

Eason finished 24 of 28 (85.7 percent) against BYU, the best completion-percentage game of his career.

But the challenges for Eason and his teammates get tougher starting this week against the Trojans. That’s followed by road games at Stanford and at Arizona and the stretch is capped by the Oct. 19 showdown at home with Oregon.

“I don’t really know where I thought he would be. I know he’s improving,” Petersen said. “He’s a lot different now than he was five weeks ago. That’s how it should be. That’s what you really like, is a guy that is steadily making progress. He’s been doing that.”

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