University of Washington

Speed demon McClatcher launches a scoring outburst

lsmith@theolympian.com

UW’s Chico McClatcher, an ex-standout at Federal Way High School, hauls in a 43-yard TD pass early in the first quarter.
UW’s Chico McClatcher, an ex-standout at Federal Way High School, hauls in a 43-yard TD pass early in the first quarter. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Washington’s plan wasn’t necessarily to go for the big play on third-and-short on the third play of its first

possession.

That is, until Chico McClatcher sped by Rutgers linebacker Andre Hunt down the sideline. Jake Browning, standing at midfield, saw the mismatch — “He was pretty open,” UW’s sophomore quarterback said.

“They did exactly what we wanted them to, and we were able to put it up for Chico,” Browning said. “I thought we started off really explosive, and that was good.”

Browning spun a deep throw, which McClatcher hauled in for a 43-yard touchdown — the first of six the Huskies scored as they routed the Scarlet Knights,

48-13, on Saturday at Husky Stadium.

“It definitely set the tempo — first drive, we scored,” said McClatcher, a sophomore wide receiver and Federal Way High School graduate. “It excites everybody.”

UW coach Chris Petersen said it was important to get the big play, though the Huskies didn’t emphasize a need to start fast.

“You have to score with some explosive-type plays to really have the type of offense you want,” Petersen said. “We got some explosives today, and I think that changes things. It changes execution.

“Explosive plays foster and fuel and fire energy and emotion for the team. They start to feed off each other.”

McClatcher’s touchdown — the second longest of his career — began a series of four consecutive scores for the Huskies.

Twice, Browning connected with John Ross III — in his first game back from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last season — on deep throws of 38 and 50 yards for touchdowns.

The offensive quickness was highlighted several times, as receivers consistently burned Rutgers defenders.

“There’s no answer for speed at all,” McClatcher said. “We’re going to keep making plays, and developing as an offense, and keep on rolling with it.”

McClatcher had three catches for 52 yards and the touchdown.

He added another 13 yards on one rush — he was a running back in high school for the Eagles. He was The News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year in 2014 after rushing for 2,283 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior.

McClatcher said he’s grown into his role as a receiver at UW.

“This year I’m more comfortable in the offense,” he said. “Last year I wasn’t really in the slot receiver (position) much, but Jaydon (Mickens) was.

“What I did in the offseason was study a lot of Jaydon’s routes while he was playing here. That helped me a lot.”

Any adjustments made paid off early — his touchdown reception opened the season for the Huskies less than three minutes into the first quarter.

“Receiver has been new to me, but I’ve got it down now,” McClatcher said.

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12

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