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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 25, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Huskies’ third receiver? Try the committee

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Wondering who would emerge as Washington’s third receiver this season was one of the more obvious questions heading into the year.

Three games into the year, it’s far from resolved. For one thing, the issue of defining “third receiver” has sort of changed. In the spring, it meant finding someone to go alongside Kasen Williams and James Johnson. Now, with Johnson out indefinitely with a wrist injury, the top two receivers are more accurately defined as Williams (15 catches for 163 yards) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (20-211).

Those two have combined for 35 of UW’s 59 receptions this season — next on the list is Kevin Smith with six and no other player listed as a receiver has more than three.

It’s uncertain if or when Johnson will return, and Smith has continued to struggle with knee issues (he missed the Portland State game but could be back this week).

So for now, instead of worrying about clearly identifying one player as a specific third receiver, the Huskies are going with the committee.

“It’s kind of by committee right now,” receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty said a few days ago. “And it’s a good thing that you’ve got a bunch of guys that could play. And maybe you wish that you had one guy that was the ‘guy,’ but it’s not such a bad thing that you can rotate them by play and certain guys run certain routes better than others, so we can kind of control the personnel groups and do it that way.

DiAndre (Campbell) (celebrating a TD against Portland State above in a Bettina Hansen photo) had the good day and had the touchdown and everybody saw that, but Cody (Bruns) played well in the game, too, and gave great effort, didn’t get rewarded with catches, but he is practicing great and doing a great job.

“So I think I think you will continue to see that where the catches are sprinkled among those guys and we will continue to play all of them. It helps when a guy like James Johnson goes down, Kevin Smith goes down, guys who have made plays for us before in games, to really not miss a beat in terms of gameplanning or just executing in the game of being able to throw a bunch of guys out there and they know what to do and they make plays.”

Listed as the starters this week are Williams, Campbell and either Smith or true freshman Jaydon Mickens.

Campbell had his best game of the season with two catches for 28 yards and Dougherty said he has shown great improvement of late.

“The guys that know what to do are the guys that play faster and appear faster than you are, and when you are more confident you play better,” he said. “And (Diandre) is a perfect example of that. He’s a guy that knows every single spot on the receiving corps, knows all four positions, so it’s helped him to play faster and more confident.

“. … He’s a smart kid to begin with but he really worked at it hard the first couple of years, even when he wasn’t getting the playing time that maybe he wanted he kept working at it. He knows every position and knows it almost as well as the quarterback knows it and with that comes confidence and I think you are seeing him play with that right now. You are seeing him catch it better and run better with the more confidence that you play in.”
Mickens is one of a true of true freshmen in the mix along with Kendyl Taylor and Marvin Hall, the latter of whom saw his first action of the year against PSU. Mickens has three catches for the season for 25 yards while Taylor has one for six and Hall one for 16.

“Jaydon has been battling a little deal (said at one point to be turf toe) and he is getting better with it and just being a young kid that is learning the offense every day, recognizing defenses, all those things that you need to have to go out there and make plays on gameday,” Dougherty said. “Jaydon is getting a better grasp of the offense and as he continues to do that we will continue to give him more opportunities. He is fast and quick and great hands, so he is going to keep getting more involved in the gameplans.”

As for Taylor, Dougherty said: “Kind of the same thing, and Cody Bruns really just had a great week of practice so we kind of decided as a staff that we wanted to reward Cody and get him out on the field more. It really wasn’t anything that Kendyl wasn’t doing, but Cody just practiced that well and if we are going to say that practice is everything and it’s that important for guys to come out and compete every day then we also need to reward the guys that have a great week of practice and play them in the game.”
As for Hall, Dougherty said: “He’s right there, too. He’s like Jaydon in that he is different and really fast and defenses are going to see that and going to have to deal with that right away. He’s a guy that we can definitely do some stuff with and utilize the speed that makes him different and special and that’s kind of what we are trying to do right now with him.”

What the Huskies also need is for Williams to continue to progress, especially in terms of creating big plays — his longest reception this season is 25 yards.

Asked to assess where Williams needs to improve, Dougherty said: “Just polishing all areas of his game and just continuing to have that dominant mindset where he should step on the field every time and say ‘I’m the best player and I’m going out here to dominate and no one can guard me.’ And as long as he keeps that attitude and finetune his routes and his effort in blocking and blocking the right guys and identifying coverages he will only play faster and faster, just like everybody else. But Kasen is off to a good start and he’s got a ton of talent and he just needs to keep finetuning his game.”

Dougherty also got a new addition this week with Dwayne Washington becoming eligible. He has participated in practices all week but is likely to redshirt.

“It’s great having Dwayne,” he said. “He’s just out there working the kinks out there now. I told him to just stay positive. He’s kind of going through now what Jaydon and the other kids when they first came here, those growing pains, but just be patient with it. He’s got a ton of talent and we are excited to have him here. Yeah, more than likely (he redshirts). He’s got a long way to go just learning the offense. But we’ll see how he goes. You never want to say never.”

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