University of Washington

‘We don’t count on the offense just giving us the ball.’ UW forces three turnovers in win over Utah

Ask Washington head coach Chris Petersen about turnovers and he’ll tell you they come in bunches.

So will defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.

And cornerback Jordan Miller.

In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that any member of UW’s team will echo the phrase.

The Huskies’ 21-7 victory over Utah on Saturday night certainly gave everyone else a reason to believe that, too.

In its first two games, UW forced just one turnover. The Huskies didn’t record any in the season opener against Auburn. But against the Utes on Saturday night, they had three: Two forced fumbles and an interception.

And that still wasn’t enough to meet their expectations.

“I think we should get more,” said cornerback Byron Murphy. “We need to get more turnovers.”

But even if UW wasn’t 100 percent satisfied, three was enough to seal its first Pac-12 victory of the season.

When the Utes were trailing 14-7 and making a promising drive late in the second quarter, Miller put a stop to the threat with an interception at the Huskies’ 11-yard line.

Then, in the third quarter, JoJo McIntosh and Tevis Bartlett each forced a fumble. Taylor Rapp recovered both. After the first fumble recovery, the Huskies were able to score a touchdown to stretch their lead to 21-7.

“I think we have a really good defense and really good defenses create turnovers,” Petersen said. “We don’t count on the offense just giving us the ball. Those almost don’t count for us.”

Running back Myles Gaskin knows how dangerous UW’s defenders can be. After all, he’s the one trying to secure the ball against them in practice every week. It was just a matter of time, he said, before they started racking up the turnovers.

He was just excited it wasn’t happening to him.

“Kind of look at it like patiently waiting, patiently waiting,” he said, “and today happened to be the day.”

Even when the defense wasn’t forcing turnovers, it got the Huskies out of some difficult situations. That was particularly true late in the fourth quarter when Utah had two chances to pull within a touchdown.

After Jake Browning threw an interception on UW’s first possession of the fourth quarter, Utah started at the Huskies’ 11-yard line. UW’s defense held up, though, and the Utes turned the ball over on downs.

On its next possession, Utah reached UW’s 14-yard line. But solid defense combined with two penalties forced a 4th-and-16.

Browning gave the defense credit for erasing a few of his mistakes, especially the interception.

“Coach Pete always says good defenses create turnovers,” Browning said, “and they for sure did that today. It was pretty cool to watch. I would’ve liked to put up more points but we’ll take the win.”

The Huskies’ defenders were all smiles after the game as they talked to the media on the field. That’s because they did what they’re supposed to do, Miller said.

As for why those turnovers come in bunches? As soon UW gets one, Miller said, it just starts rolling.

“We kept making plays,” he said. “It was good energy out there.”

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