A rough start to the young season took another tumultuous turn for Washington’s defensive secondary this week.
UW redshirt freshman Jermaine Kelly, a starting cornerback in the Huskies’ first two games, is likely out for the rest of the season after breaking a bone in his ankle during a “fluke” play in practice, coach Chris Petersen said after the Huskies’ 44-19 victory over Illinois.
Kelly will need surgery.
Petersen, meanwhile, said “nothing’s new” on the status of standout junior cornerback Marcus Peters, who was suspended after his sideline tantrum a week earlier.
“I just have nothing new; I just don’t,” Petersen said.
Without Kelly and Peters, the Huskies were left with four scholarships cornerbacks against Illinois. Senior Travell Dixon and true freshman Sidney Jones started for the first time, and true freshmen Darren Gardenhire and Naijiel Hale also saw significant snaps before a crowd of 62,325 at Husky Stadium.
“It is what it is,” Petersen said of the young secondary. “We recruited seven (defensive backs) and we knew a bunch of them were going to have to play. … Fortunately for us, I think these kids are pretty competitive and I think there’s some talent there.”
Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt generally stayed away from Jones’ side of the field, but found success against Dixon, who was beat twice for the Illini’s two touchdowns.
VAN WINKLE RIPS IT
Sophomore Cameron Van Winkle converted all three of his field-goal attempts for UW, including a career-best 51-yarder in the fourth quarter to extend UW’s lead to 44-19.
Van Winkle, in his first season as UW’s placekicker, also converted from 20 and 25 yards.
Senior right tackle Ben Riva (knee) missed his second game of the season with what Petersen described a “nagging” injury.
“I think our trainers are scratching their head a little bit,” Petersen said. “It’s nothing serious, but enough to bother him to not play today.”
Redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton started in Riva’s place. Shelton also started the season opener at Hawaii.
Backup linebacker Azeem Victor (ankle) did not play Saturday. Petersen said he’s hopeful Victor will be back in a week or two.
THIS AND THAT:
— Senior Hau’oli Kikaha had three of UW’s six sacks against Illinois, giving him 22.0 sacks for his career to move into sixth all-time in that category.
— Sophomore John Ross III has four career touchdown receptions on plays of 57, 91, 55 and 75 yards.
— The Huskies have scored on all 13 trips to the red zone this season, with nine touchdowns.
— UW allowed its first safety since USC recorded one on Nov. 12, 2011.
— UW out-rushed Illinois 245 to 72. Six different Huskies rushed for 10 yards or more. At least five Huskies have rushed for 10 yards or more in each of the last three games.