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Washington edge Bralen Trice on Texas: ‘I want to go out there and smack them’

The standout edge rusher for the Huskies can’t believe they’re underdogs again.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Consider Washington Huskies edge Bralen Trice perplexed.

The No. 2-ranked team in the country is undefeated, won the Pac-12 Championship after defeating the Oregon Ducks for the second time, and is somehow the underdog in the rematch of last year’s Alamo Bowl win over the No. 3 Texas Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans — DraftKings has the Longhorns as four-point favorites, a line that has barely moved since it was released nearly a month ago.

“I think it’s crazy,” Trice said Friday. “Just the level of disrespect we get, I can’t really understand it, but it helps us because it makes us have our backs against the wall as we go into these games, ready to play even harder because we are the underdogs. You don’t take anything for granted out there. We’re grateful to be in the position we’re at because of the hard work we put in. We can be the underdog. We can be on top, and we’ll come out with the win.”

So the goal for Trice and the Huskies on Monday in the SuperDome is simple — send a message to the doubters by leaving no doubt.

“I want to go out there and smack them. I don’t want it to be a close game,” Trice told ESPN. “I want it to be pretty lopsided in our favor and I think that’s what we’re going to go out there and do, because I know the mindset that my guys on my team have going into this game. I think it’s a huge part of what’s going to make us successful in this game is our mindset based off of what people been saying.”

It’s a confident statement heading into a matchup with a Texas team that has outscored its last two opponents 106-28 and boasts an improved offensive line that found its identity over the year since the Alamo Bowl defeat, growth highlighted by a devastating block delivered by standout left tackle Kelvin Banks in the Big 12 Championship game.

While Trice has seen a marginal decrease in his production in 2023, there’s no question that he is a dominant force off the edge with opposing offensive tackles often left with no choice but to hold Trice and hope they go uncalled. This season, the flags haven’t fallen in Trice’s favor.

Trice is still easily the biggest threat to this Texas offense in effecting the quarterback — PFF graded the Arizona product with the highest pass-rush grade for Washington by a significant margin at 88.8, the 18th-highest grade among edge rushers nationally, and the second-highest overall defensive grade on the team at 84.8, 30th among all edge rushers.

Standing at 6’4, 274 pounds, Trice has a large frame with the elite athleticism to go head to head with some of the best tackles in the nation. Through 13 games Trice leads the Huskies with 70 pressures, six sacks, 15 hits, and 49 hurries. When given the opportunity, Trice can live in an opposing offense’s backfield.

Last season, Trice put up similar numbers as a junior with 70 pressures, 15 hits, 46 hurries, and nine sacks.

From Phoenix (Ariz.) O’Connor, Trice totaled an incredible 16.5 sacks his senior year. The talented EDGE rusher chose Washington over the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame, and Oregon, despite only being a consensus three-star recruit out of high school.

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns know all too well about Trice and his abilities after last year’s Alamo Bowl — Trice finished the game with six tackles and was able to sack quarterback Quinn Ewers twice, earning him the 2022 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP. During the entire 2022 season, Banks only allowed two sacks and both came at the hands of Trice.

“Personally, going into every series, mentally I’m telling myself I’ve just got to give everything I can and empty the tank every single time,” Trice said of his approach. “I know it kind of reflects on the rest of the defense because I know those guys can feel my energy.”

Heading into the College Football Playoff semifinal, Trice is certainly intent on the Longhorns feeling his energy once again in his efforts to prove the Huskies deserve more respect.