The comeback of Kevin Smith hit a milestone Saturday.
Washington’s senior receiver hauled in the first touchdown catch of his career early in the first quarter of the Huskies’ victory over Arizona at Husky Stadium.
On a first-and-goal play, UW quarterback Keith Price rolled to his right, spun around an Arizona defender and found Smith just in front of the goal line. Smith turned and stepped in for the 7-yard score, the only touchdown of the first half for the Huskies.
Smith tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during practices leading up to the Alamo Bowl in December 2011. He was limited to just six catches last season while working his way back into shape.
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But Smith emerged this past August as the most pleasant surprise on the team, earning a starting job at one wideout spot. He has also returned as one of UW’s kick returners, a role Smith held in 2010 and 2011.
“Kevin’s fantastic,” UW coach Steve Sarkisian said earlier in the week. “You almost take him for granted because of the energy he brings every day, and the work ethic. He’s been really fun to coach this year. It’s fun to watch a guy who understands the value of every day as a senior.”
Sarkisian had praise for punter Travis Coons, who averaged 40.6 yards and put the ball inside the 20 on all five of his boots.
“Travis was awesome,’’ Sarkisian said. “It was just an amazing effort by him, punting the football.”
Sarkisian noted that given the wet conditions, the snaps on punts and placekicks were difficult to execute.
“Not only was he punting great, but those were some tough catches,’’ he said. “To catch it and then punt the ball the way he was doing, I thought it was a really good effort. I was proud of the kicking game.”
Coons also kicked a 42-yard field goal in the first half, but missed the first extra-point of his career on the Huskies’ final touchdown.
A new look
After months of buzz and speculation, the Huskies debuted their shiny, chrome gold helmets against Arizona on Saturday, combining them with purple pants and purple jerseys.
The Huskies also have an all-black uniform combination, featuring a new black-matte helmet, that they have yet to formally unveil this season.
• The Huskies reportedly hosted one of the nation’s top running-back recruits, Joe Mixon of Oakley, Calif., for an official visit on Saturday.
• The Huskies came into the weekend as the most-penalized team in college football. They improved some on Saturday, with just seven penalties for 75 yards, after piling up 16 flags a week earlier against Idaho State.
Still, there were several that Sarkisian was not happy about with his team, particularly the two blocking-in-the-back penalties on kickoff returns.
“We were great when the game mattered, then we started picking them up there late,” he said.
• UW middle linebacker John Timu played after missing the Idaho State game with a shoulder injury.
• Junior receiver Kasen Williams replaced freshman John Ross on punt returns. After a UW safety, Williams returned a kickoff 49 yards.
Times columnist Larry Stone and reporter Percy Allen contributed.