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Gameday plus 2: Reviewing UW vs. BYU

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Gameday plus 2: Reviewing UW vs. BYU

Senior wideout Andre Baccellia pulls away from a defender for a touchdown in Washington's 45-19 victory over BYU on Sept. 21, 2019. Baccellia hauled in four catches for 72 yards and a touchdown on four targets. 

The No. 17 Washington football team went on the road for the first time this season and handled its business against a BYU team with two wins over Power 5 schools in a 45-19 beatdown. Before the Huskies (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12) get ready to host USC, let’s empty out the notebook on this past Saturday.

The big (but not too big) plays

Plenty has been made of how aggressive (or not) the UW offense was at times last season, and how offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said how much he wanted to open up the playbook more. 

And through three games, Jacob Eason led an offense that did just that, starting with that 50-yard bomb in his second drive against Eastern Washington. Against Hawai’i, Eason had five completions of at least 15 yards, and four of those were at least 28.

Saturday in Provo, Eason played the mid-level game more, and dissected the BYU defense pretty much all day long. He completed 11 passes that went for at least 15 yards, but 10 of them were less than 22. The lone exception was his 35-yard touchdown to Andre Baccellia on a slant that only went 14 yards in the air.

One of those big plays came on a check down to senior tailback Kamari Pleasant off of play action in the second quarter. After getting the ball back following a BYU touchdown, Eason faked the handoff on the first play of the drive, with three Huskies running deep downfield routes. Instead of taking the shot, he threw and easy ball into the flat for Pleasant to pick up an easy 18 yards.

“He was on it,” Chris Petersen said of Eason. “He checked some balls down — when we were trying to go downfield — to the backs really, really nice. I thought he was really clean today.”

Scooping and scoring

With BYU driving in the first quarter, it was the UW defense that blew the game open in the first quarter. Ryan Bowman ran straight past the Cougar right guard to get a free shot at BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who lost the football. Senior Brandon Wellington scooped the ball up, evaded one tackler, and had an easy 69-yard run to the end zone for the UW’s third touchdown of the day.

It was Washington’s first defensive touchdown of the season, and Washington’s first score on a fumble recovery since Darren Gardenhire did it in the 2015 Apple Cup.

Combining with Aaron Fuller’s punt-return to the house and the offense’s four touchdowns, it’s the first time the Huskies have reached the end zone in all three phases of the game since 2017, when they did so against Montana.

Other notes

- The UW passing offense looked so fluid, it was almost hard to remember how it had struggled at all in recent weeks. Looking back last night after the game, the stats showed that Washington didn’t drop a single pass all game long. Of Eason’s four incompletions, one was an interception, one was a throwaway, one was a miss, and one came on a ball where the defender tripped Richard Newton before he could get to the ball.

- Speaking of Newton, all the man does is score, apparently. Through four games, the true freshman has 47 career touches and six touchdowns. In other words, he’s currently scoring just about once every eight times he gets his hands on the ball.

- The one moment that was as weird as it was bad for the Dawgs came at the end of the first quarter, when the UW went with a fake field goal from the 5-yard line. Race Porter was stuffed well short of the goalline, and BYU marched right down the field to cut the score to 24-12 going into halftime. After, Petersen said it was a miscommunication, not a mistake in execution.

“The fake should not have been run,” Petersen said. “It's on me.”

- Salvon Ahmed did not even make the trip to Provo, let alone play, in injury news that could have ramifications if it turns out to be long-term. In his absence, the Huskies ran for 187 yards. After the game, Petersen said he was dealing with a lingering leg issue, and that he could return as soon as next Saturday.

“He was not close to being able to play, but he's close to being able to play next week,” Petersen said. “And the week after. And the week after, so we'll see.”

Reach Managing Editor Josh Kirshenbaum at Twitter: @J_Kirshenbaum

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