Jake Browning was an unhappy quarterback.
The Washington Huskies junior was demolished on a blitz by Rutgers’ defensive lineman Darnell Davis. But he mostly ached over the offense’s lack of production, particularly in the first half in the Huskies’ 30-14 victory at High Point Solutions Stadium to begin the season.
“We’ve got a standard we try to play to, and that’s not the standard at all,” Browning said outside the locker room late Friday night. “So we’re going to have a long week of practice.”
Yet, with an adjustment in tempo — and attitude — the Browning-led attack came out with a little more purpose to start the second half.
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Not surprisingly, Browning got running back Myles Gaskin more involved.
After receiving just two carries, and catching one pass in the first half, Gaskin was heavily utilized on the two scoring drives that put the game out of reach.
“We got some tempo going,” UW coach Chris Petersen said.
Gaskin caught a 28-yard pass on a wheel route on the second series of the third quarter, then ripped off runs of 17 and 4 yards to set up Tristan Vizcaino’s 23-yard field goal that gave the Huskies a 20-7 lead with 2:45 to go in the third quarter.
“We had (the wheel route play) in all week,” Gaskin said. “We’ve been ready to run it, and it worked out.”
Browning found Gaskin twice more on back-to-back plays on the next drive — on a 21-yard catch that put the Huskies in the red zone, and then the 18-yard touchdown just inside the left pylon. UW led, 27-7.
“Another good ball by Jake,” Gaskin said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
Gaskin finished with 123 of his team-high 138 yards from scrimmage in the second half.
MURPHY SHINES IN DEBUT
Redshirt freshman Byron Murphy had been making big play after big play during fall camp.
And it continued in his first game. He picked off Kyle Bolin twice — on the first play of the second quarter, and again in the third quarter.
Murphy became the first UW player since teammate Taylor Rapp to intercept two passes in a game. Rapp did it in last year’s Pac-12 title game against Colorado.
“If the ball is around him, the guy can catch,” Petersen said. “He’s an instinctual player.”
Petersen vowed to rotate in a lot of guys, and did. Five true freshmen saw playing time.
Tight end Hunter Bryant was in on the second snap of the game. He ended up catching one pass for 4 yards.
Touted running back Salvon Ahmed saw one carry for zero yards. Another carry was wiped out because of a penalty.
And defensive backs Elijan Molden, Brandon McKinney and Keith Taylor all began on special-teams coverage units, then played on defense over the final 20 minutes. None of them recorded a tackle.
Browning’s two touchdown passes now give him 61 for his career. He is 14 behind Keith Price for the all-time career record. ... A total of 55 players saw action for the Huskies. Thirteen of them played for the first time. ... Kicker Tristan Vizcaino had a nice start in his new full-time gig, making all three field goal attempts (24, 23,42).