After reviewing film of the record-setting performance Vernon Adams inflicted upon the University of Washington football team’s defensive secondary last week, Huskies defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski conceded that he might have put UW’s young, inexperienced defensive backs in too much man-to-man coverage.
The result: 475 yards passing, seven touchdowns and 52 points for Eastern Washington, and more than one UW participant marveling at the “dimes” Adams dropped just beyond the reach of Huskies defenders.
“We can’t go through the season and not play man,” Kwiatkowski said Tuesday. “But (we) definitely can do a better job of minimizing how much we call it, and when we call it.”
Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake agreed. To a point, anyway.
“We definitely could have helped these guys out by playing different coverages here and there, so it does kind of come back on us as coaches to put these guys in position to make plays,” Lake said. “But at the same time, we’re going to have to play man. … And we’re going to have to be able to make those plays next week, and as we move forward the rest of the season.”
They will certainly have their chances in Saturday’s game against Illinois at Husky Stadium (1 p.m., FOX). The Illini aren’t as efficient as Adams and the Eagles, but through two games with new quarterback Wes Lunt, they’ve thrown the ball 88 times for 741 yards, seven touchdowns and an interception. And Lunt has completed 19 of 22 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns in the fourth quarter this season.
If Lake has his way, the Huskies — who will reportedly be without star cornerback Marcus Peters, suspended this week, according to The Seattle Times, as a result of last week’s third-quarter sideline tantrum — will do a better job of contesting passes that are within their reach.
Lake counts six missed interceptions through UW’s first two games — two at Hawaii and four last week against Eastern Washington. The Huskies still won the turnover battle against EWU by forcing a pair of fumbles. But Lake can’t watch film of that game without believing his charges could have snagged a pick or two.
“A lot of those plays, we were right there, and their guys made the play and we didn’t, which is unacceptable,” he said. “We have to make those plays. That’s what we’re going to work on this week to make those strides, and hopefully you guys will see that this Saturday.”
With Peters out, the Huskies will likely rely on a batch of players — senior Travell Dixon and freshmen Sidney Jones, Naijiel Hale and Darren Gardenhire — who lack much game experience. Dixon and Jones filled in for Peters last week after he was benched late in the third quarter and played at least well enough to merit praise from the coaching staff.
Lake didn’t want to speak in specifics about the Peters situation, because coach Chris Petersen hadn’t confirmed the suspension (though he hasn’t denied it, either). Instead, Lake redirected each question about Peters back to the unit as a whole.
Asked if Dixon will be leaned upon in Peters’ absence, Lake quickly named the aforementioned group of freshmen
“It’s going to be the whole group, the whole unit,” he said. “All hands on deck. We talk about that in our room all the time. It’s all hands on deck, every snap. We’re not just going to say we’ve got to rely on one guy.”
Former Huskies quarterback Keith Price signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. Price was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in May as an undrafted free agent and was cut in mid-June after participating in rookie minicamp.