Playing against one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, the Washington Huskies were without their best defensive back.
Budda Baker, the sophomore safety from Bellevue, had to watch the Huskies’ 30-24 loss to California from the sidelines Saturday afternoon. He sustained an ankle injury early in UW’s game against Utah State last week, and was in street clothes when the Huskies came out of the tunnel Saturday. He had started the first 17 games of his collegiate career.
With Baker out, Cal quarterback Jared Goff completed 24 of his 40 pass attempts for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Beaver started in Baker’s place and finished with eight tackles.
UW coach Chris Petersen prefers not to discuss the details of injuries that aren’t season-ending, so no timetable has been given for Baker’s return. But Petersen acknowledged that they missed him.
“I think you’re going to always miss Budda,” Petersen said. “I think he’s a really good player. But again, I think our guys played hard on defense. I think those guys did a great job against a very prolific pass offense, real good receivers. (Goff) can sling it, as we know. Budda’s one of our better guys and we’re always going to miss him in a lot of ways.”
Huskies cornerback Sidney Jones praised the effort of Beaver and others in Baker’s absence.
“Budda always makes an impact, but we had guys stepping up,” Jones said. “Brandon Beaver did a great job today. We rolled some guys through. They all step up. But Budda, we can’t wait to get him back.”
Jones scores TD
A big play by Jones changed the complexion of the game late in the third quarter. With Cal leading 27-14 and facing a second-and-7 at UW’s 22-yard line, Bears running back Vic Enwere carried for 8 yards before Jones forced him to fumble, then recovered the ball and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.
The play brought UW within 27-21 with 2 minutes, 19 seconds to play, and was the primary reason why the Huskies had a chance to take the lead on two ensuing possessions.
“I saw the ball kind of wiggling out,” Jones said. “I just came up and hit him and it bounced out, I picked it up, I kind of felt the defender right there, and I just avoided him and scored.”
It was the fourth-longest fumble return in UW history and the Huskies’ first defensive touchdown of the season. They had six last year.
Dwayne Washington eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth time in his career. He finished with 109 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries. Petersen said he wished they’d been able to give it to him more. “In general, we like to run the ball. I think we were running the ball better than we were throwing it,” Petersen said, “but we were playing catch-up the whole time, so that wasn’t ideal.” … Cal hadn’t beaten Washington since 2008, and hadn’t won at Husky Stadium since 2005. … UW’s five turnovers Saturday matched its season total through three games. … Darren Gardenhire caught his first career interception, and Jaylen Johnson recorded his first career sack.