Dropped balls give Huskies pause
TODD MILLES; Staff writer
They just happen to come at inopportune times.
In Steve Sarkisian’s first training camp as coach at the University of Washington, back in August 2009, receivers seemingly could not hold onto Jake Locker passes.
Even now, every so often during practice, passes are thrown perfectly yet fall to the ground.
The worst part is when it comes in games. Huskies receivers have suffered dropsies the past two weeks, against Southern California and Arizona State.
Last weekend, in a driving rainstorm, the Huskies dropped five passes in a 24-14 loss to the Sun Devils, who had their issues in that department as well. But they won, so it was hardly discussed by ASU.
Around Montlake, the subject has been broached often this week.
“We assess it. One, is it a technique thing? Are our hands in the
proper places? Are our thumbs together or are our pinkies together depending on where the ball is? Are we snapping with our head when we’re coming out of breaks?” Sarkisian said. “But, two I’m a big believer that physical mistakes are going to happen. At times, we all trip over the curb.”
The receiver who has had a particularly rough stretch happens to be one of the best in the Pacific-10 Conference – Lakes High wideout Jermaine Kearse.
He is on pace for career-highs with 28 receptions, 477 yards and five touchdowns. But he also has a team-high eight dropped passes.
The key drop came Saturday late in the first half against ASU. On fourth-and-5, Locker’s pass – albeit a tad high – whizzed right through Kearse’s hands.
The Sun Devils took the ball back and drove up the ffield to score a touchdown with 19 seconds to go.
“I was a little frustrated, of course,” Kearse said. “After the games, I wouldn’t even watch NFL games, wouldn’t even watch SportsCenter.”
The issue was bothersome enough that Kearse has put in extra work this week – in the coaches’ office studying film, with the quarterbacks in individual drills and at the end of practice catching passes from UW receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty.
“Things I was doing in the past
I kind of got away from that, and it kind of showed,” Kearse said. “I’m just getting back to those things, getting back to who I am and how I play.”
Locker has talked to his receivers about the dropped passes. He has noticed the work they have put in this week, too, especially Kearse.
“I let them know, ‘Hey, you know, if we need to stay after and throw a few balls
we’ll do that,’” Locker said. “Like I said, these guys want to be good. It’s not an expectation they have to drop the ball. I have full confidence in them.”
LOCKER WILL PLAY
Any fears that Locker might not play in Saturday’s game with Oregon State because of a bruised quadriceps muscle were assuaged when he took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense Thursday.
“I thought he moved around good today,’’ Sarkisian said. “We did some things with him running and he responded well.’’
While Locker moved with a slight limp, all indications are that he will play.
Wide receiver Devin Aguilar (hip pointer) did a few individual drills, but still ran awkwardly. The injury caused him to miss the game against Arizona State, and he’ll be monitored in practice today and in pregame Saturday, Sarkisian said. ... Tight end Chris Izbicki (back) was able to practice lightly, and Sarkisian believes he’ll play Saturday. The Huskies lost freshman tight end Michael Hartvigson for the season to shoulder surgery.
Staff writer Ryan Divish contributed to this report.
The college football teams who’ve played the toughest schedules, according to Jeff Sagarin’s ratings:
5.San Jose State
Other Pac-10 teams