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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

November 11, 2009 at 10:04 PM

Spotlight on the receivers

For my story for Thursday’s paper, I wrote about Jermaine Kearse’s ascension the past few weeks, notably Saturday against UCLA, when he scored UW’s only two touchdowns.
As the quote from receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty at the bottom indicates, the coaches are pretty darn excited about the WR corps. All will be back next season, and the three leading receivers — Kearse, fellow sophomore Devin Aguilar and true freshman James Johnson — will all be back for two more. That makes the receiving corps maybe the most settled going forward in terms of depth and quality of talent.
The emergence of those three, however, has meant a narrowing of the playing time at that spot in recent weeks. Junior D’Andre Goodwin sees some time, but otherwise, that’s about it. Coaches have talked highly of Cody Bruns’ play in practice but have said there’s just nowhere to put him on the field. Anthony Boyles has been moved to cornerback. Jordan Polk has missed a few games with a knee injury, but when he gets healthy — he’s looked pretty good in practice this week — there’s another player to try to fit into the mix.
Dougherty says the three who are getting most of the time right now have simply earned it with their play.
“We said from week one of training camp that the guys that know what to do and play fast and play confident, those are the guys that will play,” he said. “Those guys have risen to the top right now. We are excited about their progress and where they’re headed and think they will only get better.”

As detailed in the story, Kearse had some rough spots in fall camp. But Dougherty said Kearse rose quickly past that funk, in part after Dougherty showed him some cut-ups of successful moments during the spring. “We wanted him to get back to having fun playing the game again and ever since he’s done that,” Dougherty said.
“He’s embraced that if you make plays out here on the practice field you are going to make them on Saturdays,” Dougherty said. “He came into my office today and told me how excited he was about practice. He’s really come a long way.”
Of the big three, Johnson has struggled a little bit of late making just one catch against UCLA for 18 yards with at least one drop.
Dougherty said today some of it is due to hitting a freshman wall.
“I think that’s a lot of it,” he said. “And he hasn’t been the healthiest guy. He banged his shoulder up again around the Stanford week and then he’s been battling turf toe right now. So that’s had something to do with it. And the wear and tear of his first season, going through the Pac-10, he’s going up against really good players and he is only a true freshman.
“The expectations on our end are still there — he’s going to be a heck of a player, and he’s doing a great job right now and he needs to understand that. He’s leading the Pac-10 as far as freshmen in catches right now. The key is that he finishes strong from this point on and leads into his off-season and next year and he can feel really good about it.”
Goodwin, who was the team’s leading receiver a year ago with 60 catches, has become something of the odd man out, with just 11 catches this season, and none since suffering a concussion on the last play of the Notre Dame game.
“I think it was hard for him (overcoming the concussion),” Dougherty said. “Obviously he missed those couple weeks after that, and that was about the time that Devin was coming back (from a knee injury) and he started lighting the world on fire. All those things coupled together added to what has happened. But we still have confidence in Devin and he’ll get his chances as we go forward.
“He’s battling. But it’s just a matter of those other guys really stepped their games up. Like I said, the cream rises to the top and those other guys have earned those opportunities. (Goodwin) will get some time this weekend and we’ll keep on trying to get him in there. But those other guys are earning it right now.”



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