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Washington's proud offense shut down by Tide in Peach Bowl


NewsHubWashington’s proud, high-scoring offense was no match for Alabama.
In a way, Huskies coach Chris Peterson could see it coming. The more he studied the Crimson Tide defense, the more he understood the challenge awaiting Washington on Saturday in a 24-7 Peach Bowl semifinal loss to No. 1 Alabama.
« We’ve studied every snap that they’ve had this year and the tape doesn’t lie when you watch that much tape, » Peterson said. « I mean, that’s as good a defense as there is out there in college football, and they played like it.  »
Washington (12-2) was held to season-low totals in points and yards (194). It was only the second time this season, following a 26-13 loss to Southern California on Nov. 12, the Huskies were held below 31 points.
The Huskies averaged 44.5 points, the fourth-highest total in the nation, before being humbled by Alabama.
Washington’s offense opened strong, moving 64 yards on a touchdown drive capped by Jake Browning’s 16-yard pass to Dante Pettis .
Alabama (14-0) shut out the Huskies from there.
Despite its offensive struggles after the opening drive, Washington trailed only 10-7 late in the first half until Alabama’s Ryan Anderson 26-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Browning was trying to connect with Lavon Coleman when he had to force a pass before hit by blitzing linebacker Reuben Foster. Anderson moved in for the pick, and his touchdown return gave Alabama a 17-7 lead.
« My job is just to not make a bad play worse, » Browning said. « Just take a sack or launch it out of bounds.  »
Browning completed 20 of 38 passes for only 150 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The touchdown pass was his 43rd of the season, tying the Pac-12 record set by Cal’s Jared Goff in 2015.
Browning acknowledged Alabama’s defense alters a normal game plan.
« It’s a good defense, » Browning said. « They can get in a quarterback’s head. I don’t think they did that necessarily but they make you get rid of the ball quickly. They have elite pass-rush guys. We did a pretty good job with that overall but you’ve got to make a couple more plays when you’re playing a good team like that.  »
Alabama shut down Washington’s leading receiver, John Ross, who had only 28 yards on five catches. The speedy receiver’s longest catch was for only 9 yards.
Meanwhile, Washington’s running game disappeared.
« We just couldn’t get our run game started, » Ross said. « … It’s pretty frustrating. We know they have a good run defense, but we still wanted to run the ball.  »
The Huskies managed only 44 yards rushing on 29 carries — an average of 1.5 yards.
« They kind of are what we thought they were, a really, really elite championship defense with real good players across the board, » Peterson said.
Peterson said his defense also played « really elite » — except for one play, a 68-yard scoring run by Alabama power back Bo Scarbrough.
« We didn’t tackle one time and their back made a great run and broke about five tackles, » Peterson said. « Other than that, I thought the kids played really good.  »
Scarbrough, selected the game’s MVP, ran for 180 yards with two touchdowns.
Washington’s opportunistic defense led the nation in takeaways. But Alabama also won the turnover battle, 3-0. Two turnovers led to 10 points.
« They beat us with our own game, » Peterson said. « … When you’re playing this type of game, when the margin for error is that small, those things are going to show up. « 

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