UW defense picks off Sean Mannion three times
Special to The Seattle Times
CORVALLIS, Ore. — It was the nation’s leading passer and the top receiver in the country up against the Pac-12’s stingiest pass defense.
Washington wasn’t about to end up on the worst end of that matchup.
So the Huskies harried Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion into his poorest performance of the season and kept Brandin Cooks in check when the game was decided in the first half as Washington romped to a 69-27 victory Saturday night at Reser Stadium.
Marcus Peters intercepted Mannion twice in the first half and also forced and recovered a fumble to highlight the UW defensive performance.
“Obviously a fantastic game for Marcus,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said.
It was the first time since 2006 that a Washington player had multiple interceptions in a game.
Shaq Thompson had Washington’s third interception, returning it 80 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Mannion had completed 68 percent of his passes through OSU’s first 10 games, but was 20 of 41 with three interceptions against the Huskies. He was averaging a nation-best 386 passing yards entering the game, but finished with a season-low 229 yards.
Cooks, who had 100 receptions for 1,443 yards to lead the nation entering the game, finished with 10 receptions for 117 yards, but only 38 of those yards came in the first half, when the Huskies took a 27-0 lead.
“We just had to trust our game plan,” Peters said. “We wanted to take (Cooks) away from them, and we did a good job of that.”
The first time Mannion targeted Cooks, Will Shamburger and Gregory Ducre had him doubled and the ball fell incomplete.
Mannion rarely had time to look for Cooks, or his other receivers. With nose tackle Danny Shelton leading the push on the inside, the Beavers had to pay extra attention to him. That left OSU vulnerable to pressure from the outside, and Mannion ended up being sacked three times, starting with the opening play of the game when first-time starter Josh Shirley chased down the OSU quarterback from his defensive-end position.
The Huskies also played the Beavers with a replenished secondary. Shamburger, who missed the previous two games with an undisclosed injury, was in the starting lineup and the Huskies trotted out a new defensive back in freshman John Ross, a receiver up until this game.
Ross played defensively in obvious passing downs as Washington’s nickel back. It caused him to change his number to 11 from the 1 he had previously worn, a move necessitated by the fact safety Sean Parker wears No. 1 and the two couldn’t be on the field at the same time wearing the same number. Ross still filled his other roles, returning the opening kickoff 62 yards and had a reception.
“We wanted to play more man-to-man (coverage) and he’s really talented,” Sarkisian said of using Ross on defense. “We felt we needed another cover guy in there, and I don’t think they caught a ball on him.”