Three games into the season, Washington’s defense has allowed three points in the first half.
Rutgers connected for a field goal in the second quarter in the UW’s opener on Sept. 3 — but that’s it. The No. 8-ranked Huskies shut out Idaho in the first half last week.
Saturday’s pasting of Portland State was more of the same. The Vikings held possession for the majority of the contest — but slight gains resulted in turnovers (three fumbles, one interception), or punts (six).
“We preach on not letting them score in our end zone,” junior safety Budda Baker said.
The Huskies made quick work at the other end, whisking to a 41-3 win at home and remaining undefeated as they enter Pac-12 play next week.
Maybe Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State aren’t as high-caliber as some of the programs Washington has remaining on its schedule, but Baker dismisses comments about opponents lacking toughness.
“All three teams we have played have had different schemes, different players, different quarterbacks, their offensive line and all of that,” he said. “It was a huge challenge for all of us.”
The Huskies defense has remained steady thus far, allowing 30 points in three weeks.
In the first three weeks, UW has allowed six scoring drives — three touchdowns and three field goals. And the Huskies have not allowed a touchdown in the first half. In fact, the first-string defense hasn’t allowed one at all.
“We were just aggressive and hungry,” said cornerback Sidney Jones, whose interception in the end zone in the third quarter ended a Portland State drive that advanced to UW’s 17.
“You know, come out with that fierce intensity. Just never let down, never stop.”
Portland State’s first seven drives ended with UW regaining possession. The Vikings committed four turnovers, including three fumbles the Huskies recovered — UW has recovered seven fumbles this season.
“Their defense is incredible, and they force turnovers,” Portland State quarterback Alex Kuresa said.
The Vikings settled for their lone field goal late in the third quarter after driving to UW’s 4. Twice, Greg Gaines, who had a team-high seven tackles, got a hand on tailback Zach Floyd in the backfield. Kuresa’s pass on third-and-goal fell incomplete.
Portland State was 3 of 13 on third-down conversions. UW’s opponents in the first three weeks are 15 of 50 on third down.
“It’s pretty big momentum for us,” Jones said. “Those are our expectations, to do our best, keep them to scoring the least amount of points as possible. We just want to keep that energy flowing throughout the Pac-12.”
BROWNING PILING UP TOUCHDOWNS
It took longer than 16 seconds this week, but sophomore quarterback Jake Browning began his third consecutive game with a touchdown pass on UW’s opening drive.
He found Chico McClatcher alone near the left sideline, zipped a short pass and watched McClatcher scurry in for a 43-yard touchdown on Saturday with 12 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“I think last year we didn’t start as fast in the beginning and that is something that we focused on in one point of the season,” Browning said.
Browning added three more touchdowns against Portland State on passes to Darrell Daniels (11 yards), McClatcher (13) and Myles Gaskin (4).
Through three games, he has 12 passing touchdowns — more than halfway to the 16 he threw last season.
Baker again played afew snaps of offense, though he didn’t catch a pass. Browning targeted him twice, the second time on a deep ball that might have been complete if Baker hadn’t been slowed by a PSU defensive back. “I was running and then I went to break,” Baker said, “and the dude just hit me. I couldn’t get past him.” There was no flag on the play. … The Huskies have now scored 40 or more points in six consecutive games, a school record. … Taylor Rapp, a true freshman safety from Sehome High School (Bellingham), made his first career start. … McClatcher, a Federal Way High School product, caught two touchdown passes for 43 and 13 yards against Portland State. He has four total touchdowns this season.