No amount of game planning by the Washington Huskies could have prevented what Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. did Saturday.
That much should have been clear when, trailing 21-0 in the first quarter, Adams rolled to his right, pump-faked to his left, then lofted a fade route to the back right of the end zone where only receiver Cooper Kupp could catch it — and he did, for a 41-yard score.
The UW defensive backs in coverage, Marcus Peters and Kevin King, didn’t have a chance. It was either Kupp’s ball or no one’s.
And that’s pretty much how it went the rest of the game.
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Whatever the Huskies’ defense showed, Adams read it, dissected it and burned it, finishing with a career-high 475 passing yards — second most in school history — and seven touchdowns, the most allowed by Washington.
Adams’ touchdown passes covered 41, 33, 26, 28, 13, 22 and 11 yards, on 31-of-46 passing. Through three games, he’s completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,147 yards and 16 touchdowns to only one interception.
There’s a myriad reasons why Adams played as well as he did. The poor performance by Washington’s secondary was among them.
But, maybe — and this is the more likely conclusion — there is seemingly no answer for Adams.
There’s only outscoring him, which the Huskies just barely did in their 59-52 win at Husky Stadium.
Oregon State couldn’t decipher Adams in 2013, when he carved up the Beavers for 518 total yards of offense and six touchdowns en route to the Eagles’ 49-46 upset victory. The Huskies couldn’t stop him either.
He rallied the Eagles from an early 21-0 deficit by tossing five touchdown passes in the first half, and trailed Washington, 37-31, at halftime.
He converted all four of the Eagles’ fourth-down conversion attempts — two of which were for touchdowns, while the other two came on Eastern’s final drive of the game.
He played through cramps in his left hamstring that visibly hampered his mobility as he walked around the field during timeouts. And yet, he scrambled from the Huskies’ pressure — which sacked him six times on the day — and darted passes to open receivers with machine-like precision.
“He’s special for more than just being a big-play guy, a busted-play guy,” Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said. “He stands in the pocket and makes throws, he changes protections, he’s tough when they blitz and he gets hit. He has all the quarterback tools, so that’s what I love about the young man that I think sometimes people don’t give him enough credit for.”
But Adams won’t remember any of that. He said he doesn’t care about the stats, though he did think it was an honor to throw the most touchdown passes that Washington has ever allowed. Like any fiery and competitive quarterback, he’d trade it all for one thing.
“I just wish we would have gotten the win,” Adams said. “I would have zero touchdowns if we could replace that with a win.”
Had it not been for the fumble by Eagles freshman receiver Terence Grady following a 16-yard completion to the Huskies’ 16-yard line with the Eagles trailing 52-45 in the fourth quarter, Adams may have pulled off the W after all.
Opposite number Cyler Miles, who finished with a quiet performance of 180 yards and one touchdown on 14-of-24 passing for the Huskies, was taken aback by Adams’ gutsy performance.
“He lit it up, man. He played great,” Miles said. “His football’s on the money, man. He made some gutsy throws. I think two fourth-and-11s on the last drive? Crazy, man. My hat goes off to him. He played a heck of a game.”