Shaq Thompson scored as many touchdowns as Washington’s offense against Stanford on Saturday.
The junior linebacker added yet another defensive touchdown to his 2014 stat line, stripping Remound Wright of the ball during a pileup and returning the ensuing fumble 32 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the second quarter of UW’s 20-13 loss to the Cardinal.
“I knew the ball was loose,” Thompson said. “He was stacked on the pile, he wasn’t down, so I just went for the ball and it came out.”
Thompson now has four touchdowns this season — one rushing, one on an interception return and two on fumble returns, becoming the first Huskies player since at least 1992 to return two fumbles for touchdowns in the same season.
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In fact, the only times the Huskies, as a team, have returned two or more fumbles for touchdowns in a season was in 2003 and 1994. They tallied three in each season.
The way Thompson is going, he might match that by himself. He also lined up at safety for the first time this season.
“He’s a heck of a player. He really is. Whether it’s safety or linebacker,” coach Chris Petersen said. “Ballhawk. Just a really good, instinctual football player. He’s fun to watch.”
Petersen said they’ve been practicing with Thompson at safety for the last couple weeks. And with sophomore safety Kevin King out with an illness and a big, physical team like Stanford coming to town, Petersen decided it was time to move Thompson to the back end of UW’s defense.
“Back there, he can tackle like a linebacker and he can cover like a safety,” Petersen said. “Might be a better ballhawk back there. I don’t know. We’ll continue to look at that and move him around.”
Thompson said he’d prefer to focus on one role defensively, but said he ultimately wants whatever will help the Huskies win. He again took a couple of handoffs at running back, too, but didn’t go farther than two yards.
At safety, he said, “first time felt good. Worried — just don’t want to mess up the calls. But that’s part of football.”
Petersen was asked if he’ll re-evaluate the starting quarterback position after Cyler Miles completed 15 of his 29 passes for just 98 yards.
“We’re always going to re-evaluate everything,” he said. “There’s no question about that. So we’ll take a look and whoever we think can give us the best chance to win, we’ll do that.”
Backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist again took a few snaps, but attempted only one pass — a deep ball to John Ross that was well overthrown.
After forcing three more turnovers and not committing any, the Huskies have a 12-to-1 turnover ratio this season. … The Huskies’ 98 passing yards qualified as their first sub-100-yard passing game since their Holiday Bowl victory over Nebraska in December 2010, a span of 43 games. … Junior cornerback Marcus Peters grabbed his 11th career interception and is now tied for No. 7 on UW’s all-time list. But he didn’t play in the team’s first defensive series. “He just needs to take care around the ranch a little bit better, tighten up some details,” Petersen said, “and then he’ll start.” … Of his 17-yard, catch-and-run touchdown on which he bowled through three Huskies defenders into the end zone, Stanford receiver Ty Montgomery said: “Score. That was it. Score — as in, a short, action-oriented word that doesn’t take long to process. It tells my body to do something.”