Huskies Insider Blog

Tale of the tape: Washington 31, California 7

FROM BERKELEY -- Back at the hotel and time to wrap up Washington's 31-7 victory over California with our tale of the tape. Here we go.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- Cyler Miles deserves some recognition for running what was a pretty efficient offense for much of this game, completing 22-of-29 passes for a career-best 273 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. But sophomore receiver John Ross was again the most dangerous player on the field, taking a quick screen pass 86 yards for a touchdown and nearly breaking another one on that crazy, zig-zagging run that ultimately got called back on what looked like a pretty questionable crackback-block call against Joshua Perkins.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME -- A tough decision between linebacker Shaq Thompson, who led the Huskies with 11 tackles and obviously had the huge 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown that changed the complexion of the game in the first quarter, and Hau'oli Kikaha, who led a consistent pass rush against California quarterback Jared Goff and finished with three sacks to increase his season total to 10. That leads the nation, and is just 4.5 shy of the UW single-season record of 14.5 set by Jason Chorak in 1996. Kikaha also finished with nine tackles and had 4.5 tackles for loss total. Let's call this a tie, if only because of how important UW's pass rush was to disrupting Cal's offense. Guessing Thompson gets the nod for UW's Pac-12 defensive player of the week nomination, though.

PLAY OF THE GAME -- This one's easy. Cal was driving to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Goff tried to stick the ball across the goal line on a quarterback sneak. But he lost control of the ball, Thompson grabbed it, then ran 100 yards (actually, more like 102 or so) for a touchdown that gave UW a 7-0 lead instead. The game was never close after that.

STAT OF THE GAME -- Cal's point total is notable enough, considering the Golden Bears averaged 50 through their first five games. They averaged only 4.4 yards per play on 84 snaps. UW's plus-14 (15-to-1) turnover margin also continues to improve.

QUOTABLE -- "I made a promise to myself before the season, I’m not reading – no offense to you guys – I’m not reading articles, media. It can’t do anything except for hurt your brain. That’s what I think. It’s been a struggle at times, but I’ve prided myself. It’s just us. Nothing outside can affect us.” -- Miles on handling outside criticism

WHAT IT MEANS -- Before the season, the general read on Washington was that it would have a tough defense and a capable enough offense. That's what you saw on Saturday -- except the Huskies' defense probably played better than most imagined, given how productive California's offense had been in its first five games. Coach Chris Petersen and defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski each marveled at how the Huskies were able to limit the Bears to just seven points, one week after Cal dropped 60 on Washington State. UW's secondary is young and inexperienced, but players like Sidney Jones, Budda Baker and Kevin King seem to be improving each game, and the Huskies' front seven looked like one of the best in the Pac-12 on Saturday. With Kikaha burning the edge and Thompson continuing to make plays all over the field, that's a tough defense for any team to deal with. It will be interesting to see how Oregon attacks it next week. Beating Cal doesn't prove UW to be a conference title contender all of a sudden. But given how many questions surrounded this team throughout its bye week after a lackluster performance against Stanford, the Huskies probably supplied more answers than most expected. And that's just what they needed heading into Autzen Stadium.

UP NEXT -- Washington at Oregon, 5 p.m. Saturday at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks beat UCLA, 42-30, on Saturday.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple