SEATTLE — With two weeks to stew about suffering an unexpected first loss of the season, No. 12 Washington released its pent up frustration by running all over UCLA.
Led by the duo of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, the Huskies rolled through UCLA 44-23 on Saturday and overpowering the worst run defense in the country. Gaskin finished with 169 yards rushing and one touchdown, while Coleman added 94 yards and three TDs.
Washington (7-1, 4-1 Pac-12) finished with 333 yards rushing as a team and averaged 5.7 yards per carry. And they made it look easy.
“We had a plan to run the ball and stick with it … and at the end of the day it kind of works out how you like it,” Washington coach Chris Petersen said.
It was a long two weeks since the Huskies were stunned in a 13-7 loss at Arizona State that put Washington on the fringes of the College Football Playoff conversation. The Huskies know they need to be impressive going forward.
So they returned to a bit of the basics. Quarterback Jake Browning was a nonfactor because he didn’t need to be. His job was to make the read, take the snap and handoff to Gaskin or Coleman. Gaskin finally found the end zone late in the third quarter on a 6-yard run. Coleman scored on runs of 1, 33 and 13 yards.
“It felt good. Usually it’s the other way,” Gaskin said. “It was a good feeling. Kind of laugh at Jake a little bit handing the ball off to us. It just worked out like that today.”
Browning finished just 8 of 11 passing for 98 yards, a career low in passing yards and attempts. His biggest contribution was a 1-yard TD plunge in the first half. Washington finished with 12 total passing attempts, its fewest since 1981.
“We looked at their stats coming in and they hadn’t been great against the run, so we thought we would run the ball a little bit,” Browning said. “We started gashing them early and kept doing it.”
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was 12 of 21 passing for 93 yards and was sacked four times. Rosen was pulled midway through the third quarter and later was on the sideline in sweats. UCLA coach Jim Mora said it was multiple things that caused him to pull Rosen, who was limping after being sacked in the second quarter by Washington’s Austin Joyner. Rosen threw a 7-yard TD pass to Jordan Wilson in the second quarter, but Washington scored the next 27 points.
Mora said Rosen would be reevaluated in the next couple of days to determine his status moving forward.
“He took some hits, he’s beat up, some multiple things going on,” Mora said.
The Bruins (4-4, 2-3) entered the day with the worst run defense in the country, and Washington did its part in making those numbers even worse. Washington was the fourth team this season to rush for at least 300 yards against the Bruins. It was the first time since beating Oregon last season the Huskies topped 300 yards rushing.
“They ran power. They ran inside zone, outside zone. They just committed to the run,” Mora said. “We made some really good plays and we missed tackles. That was the problem. Guys were fit up, we missed tackles.”
It was a fairly methodical performance by the Huskies, in which the passing game was muted and the most explosive plays came from freshman Salvon Ahmed on kickoff returns. Ahmed had an 82-yard kickoff return early in the second quarter after UCLA scored to pull within 10-9. Ahmed’s return gave the Huskies a short field and two plays later, Coleman scored for a 17-9 lead. Ahmed added a 40-yard return in the fourth quarter and had a 34-yard run on a reverse.
UCLA: The Bruins have now lost eight straight away from the Rose Bowl and lately they’ve mostly been blowouts. The Bruins have lost by at least 17 points in four of their past five road defeats.
Washington: Key injuries continue to build for the Huskies. After losing starting left tackle Trey Adams and cornerback Jordan Miller in the loss to Arizona State, the Huskies watched freshman standout tight end Hunter Bryant limp off the field after a 17-yard reception in the first half. Bryant appeared to be hit directly on his left knee and Petersen did not have an update after the game.
Even before Rosen left, UCLA’s offense was struggling. After pulling within 10-9, the Bruins ran just one play in Washington territory — from the 49 — over the next seven drives and gained a total of 41 yards. Backup QB Devon Modster threw a 4-yard TD pass to Darren Andrews in the fourth quarter.
Osa Odighizuwa returned a fumble 50 yards for a TD in the closing moments.
After weeks of struggles, Washington kicker Tristan Vizcaino was perfect on all of his kicks. Vizcaino was good on field goals of 31, 26 and 24 yards and made all five of his extra-point attempts.
UCLA: The Bruins have a short week and will travel to Utah on Friday night.
Washington: The Huskies stay at home and will host rival Oregon next Saturday.