John Ross put on his pads, his purple jersey, gold pants and gold helmet, and took the field for the Huskies’ 45-14 win over Georgia State on Saturday just like everybody else.
But as he went through warmups, the speedy sophomore receiver did so slowly. And when the game started, the star kick returner was on the sideline, where he spent the entire game.
An injury to his right leg — he wore a sturdy brace on his knee — kept Ross out, and Huskies coach Chris Petersen said afterward he isn’t quite sure when to expect Ross to return.
“I think he’s week to week. We really don’t know,” Petersen said. “We’re still just kind of trying it out, get some stuff later in the week and we’ll see. We’ll know more in a few days.”
The Huskies could have used Ross and his speed during a poor first-half performance against Georgia State. He caught six passes for 224 yards in Washington’s first three games, including touchdown catches of 91, 55 and 75 yards, in addition to a 20-yard touchdown run.
Without him, the Huskies lack a true deep threat with the requisite speed to take a catch-and-run to the house.
“We got guys to fill in,” quarterback Cyler Miles said. “Ross is a great player, obviously, but it’s not like we lost a beat, because we got guys that were ready.”
The Huskies also played without senior right tackle Ben Riva, who has missed three of UW’s four games with an undisclosed injury. Redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton again started in his place.
Linebacker Azeem Victor didn’t suit up, either, still nursing an ankle injury. And sophomore defensive end Joe Mathis was absent, taking some “personal time,” Petersen said.
Senior running back Jesse Callier was seen leaving the field wearing a walking boot, but Petersen said he didn’t have an update on his status.
Pettis the punt returner
Petersen spoke at length during the week about his desire to make big plays in the punt-return game, and freshman receiver Dante Pettis brought that wish to fruition against Georgia State.
Pettis returned four punts for 98 yards, setting up Huskies touchdowns after three of them.
“I think Dante Pettis was bringing a lot to the table today, doing a great job,” Petersen said. “I know a lot of guys up front were doing a pretty good job holding them up. We had a lot of space there and we don’t always talk about that. It’s hard to get that space in the punt return game. And he had some, and he did a nice job. So that sparked us pretty good.”
Lindquist barrels in
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Lindquist saw his most extensive playing time Saturday since starting Washington’s season-opener at Hawaii.
But he more or less acted as a running back. And he did it well.
Lindquist carried three times for 35 yards out of a shotgun formation, including touchdown runs of 14 and 9 yards to help the Huskies blow past GSU in the second half.
“The whole point is to help the Huskies win,” the Mercer Island grad said. “Today, that’s what I had to do, and we ended up winning, so it was sweet.”
“We had that little package for him, and the first time we ran it, it was pretty darn good,” the coach said. “We need to keep going back to the well until somebody proves they can stop it, so good job by Coach (Jonathan) Smith (offensive coordinator) going back to it.”
Junior cornerback Marcus Peters returned from suspension to intercept two passes, the second time in his career he’s recorded two picks in a game. … Senior outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha recorded his sixth sack of the season and 23rd of his career, which puts him sixth all-time at UW and one behind Andy Mason in fifth place. … The Huskies have scored 40 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time since 1991. … Petersen is the first coach to begin his UW career with a 4-0 record since Gil Dobie in 1908.