Marcus Peters, the Huskies’ standout junior cornerback, has been suspended for this week’s game against Illinois after his sideline tantrum during Washington’s 59-52 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday, according to multiple sources.
The suspension of Peters — UW’s only veteran cornerback — further stresses Washington’s young and vulnerable defensive secondary that ranks 117th in the nation in passing defense.
Peters did not practice with the team Monday morning.
Peters is the eighth player new UW coach Chris Petersen has either suspended or dismissed from the team since February.
UPDATE: At his weekly Monday afternoon press conference, Petersen declined to specifically address Peters’ status.
“Our discipline will stay in-house,” he said.
Petersen benched the cornerback in the third quarter on Saturday after Peters committed a “stupid” penalty when he head-butted an EWU receiver. The unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty came immediately after a sack by UW’s Shaq Thompson on third down, which would have forced EWU to punt. Instead, the penalty gave the Eagles a first down, and they scored a touchdown eight plays later to take a 45-44 lead late in the third quarter.
After drawing the penalty, Peters was seen arguing with assistant coaches and threw his gloves and helmet to the ground on the UW sideline.
Petersen has a team rule that helmets are not supposed to touch the ground.
“I’m just not into stupid penalties,” Petersen said after the game. “It’s not even an issue whether the guy’s going to play or not if they don’t conduct themselves right. If you don’t play like we want you play, you’re not playing. It’s not even a decision for me; it’s easy.”
Peters was also suspended for the first quarter of UW’s Fight Hunger Bowl in December, for an unspecified reason.
The 6-foot, 190-pound junior from Oakland, Calif.,, is considered by some to be a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft. Peters led UW with five interceptions and 14 pass breakups in 2013, earning second-team all-Pac-12 honors.
Without Peters, the Huskies finished the EWU game with senior reserve Travell Dixon and true freshman Sidney Jones at cornerback. Jones forced a fumble on kickoff coverage in the first quarter Saturday, and Dixon played well after replacing Peters in the second half.
“We have a vet out there with Travell Dixon. That guy knows how to play big-time college football,” UW junior receiver Jaydon Mickens said after Monday’s practice. “So he’s going to step up for those guys and he’s going to be that leader back there. We’re going to be fine. Marcus will come back and do great things for us, but for right now we should be fine.”