A fake handoff to Baker helped set up UW's second touchdown against Portland State.
For two years, Washington star safety Budda Baker had been itching for a chance to play on offense.
Baker finally got that chance in the Huskies’ opener against Rutgers. His one touch, on a fly-sweep run, netted a loss of 1 yard and prompted some light-hearted ribbing from his defensive teammates. “Minus 1,” they’ve dubbed him.
Against Portland State on Saturday, Baker got his most extensive action yet on offense, though the statistics didn’t get much better. As a receiver, he was targeted twice on passes from Jake Browning — resulting in one drop and one miscommunication with the quarterback.
“I told Budda he hates touchdowns. I don’t know what his deal is,” Browning joked after the Huskies’ 41-3 victory.
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Even so, Baker’s presence proved valuable for the offense.
On UW’s second touchdown early in the first quarter, Baker ran from left to right along the formation before the snap. After Browning took the snap from under center, he faked a handoff to Baker; three Portland State defenders took the bait and began to follow Baker to the right.
Meanwhile, tight end Darrell Daniels, lined up on the right side of the formation, sneaked to the left side and was open for an 11-yard touchdown.
“You see how hard it is to just put a guy over there (on offense)? It’s not that simple,” UW coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “… This guy is one of the better athletes you’ve ever been around and it is hard (even for him). There is a lot of detail and it is different. You can’t just throw a guy over there.
“We’re trying to build depth at that receiver position and anybody that can help us on either side of the ball we always pay attention to that. That’s the point: You can’t just in one week just throw somebody out there. The thousands of reps those other guys have taken compared to what Budda’s had at receiver, it’s night and day. It’s hard.”
As one of the most valuable players on the Pac-12’s top scoring defense, Baker of course spent almost his entire week at safety. His practice reps on offense are limited, and that plan isn’t changing.
The goal for Baker on offense is to create “a package that the (opposing) defense has to see and worry about different personnel and be able to defend it all,” Petersen said. “Like I said, if Budda spent full time at receiver, he could be a really, really good receiver, I think we believe that. But it’s just a matter of time management in terms of, he still stays very sharp and playing at a high level at DB. But he can help us (on offense).”