Chris Petersen received multiple explanations.
He isn’t satisfied with any of them.
After Oregon mounted a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to begin game against Washington on Saturday, the Ducks kicked off inside Husky Stadium. Senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller caught the kick, then turned to his left and whipped the football all the way across the field — in a distracting drizzle, no less — to wide open Washington wide receiver Chico McClatcher.
Turns out, McClatcher was wide open for a reason.
At some point before or during the kickoff, the 5-foot-8, 183-pound McClatcher — who was wearing UW’s standard purple jersey — lay down in the also-purple end zone, perhaps camouflaging himself from Oregon’s kickoff coverage. McClatcher ran out of bounds at the Husky 45-yard line but was immediately flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
Petersen said after the game that he got “about four different explanations.”
So what were they?
“Can’t do that. Can’t fall down before he kicked it. Can’t lay down because it’s the same colored jersey as the end zone,” Petersen said. “It is what it is.”
Regardless, it appears UW prepared to run a trick play all week that was supposedly illegal.
At least, according to Saturday’s set of Pac-12 referees.
“Last year the rules were, you can’t lay down before they kick it,” Petersen said. “He did (wait). We practiced it. That’s what we were told last year.”
Instead of starting at their 45-yard line, the Huskies took a touchback, then punted five plays and 12 yards later.
Offensive injuries pile up
UW starting offensive linemen Nick Harris and Jaxson Kirkland both played after being listed as “week to week” with injuries after last week’s win over Arizona.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that junior running back Sean McGrew missed the game with an injury, and senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller appeared just twice on special teams. McClatcher also left the game late with an injury and walked off the field with a boot on his left foot. While Petersen said he was unaware of the extent of McClatcher’s injury, he said, “You saw what I saw. He got bent over pretty good.”
“He’s just a little banged up after the last game,” Petersen said of Fuller. “It was kind of a game-time decision, whether he could go. A lot of the other guys were rolling pretty good. He wasn’t 100 percent. He could have played if we needed him, and we were getting close to needing him.”
In the first seven games this season, Fuller led the Huskies in catches (40), receiving yards (558) and receiving touchdowns (5). McGrew — who Petersen also said is “a little banged up” — had also been a significant contributor. In last weekend’s 51-27 win over Arizona, McGrew turned in his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with 106 yards and 8.2 yards per carry. He leads the Huskies with 6.5 yards per carry this season.
In McGrew’s place, four-star freshman running back Cameron Davis received the first rush of his UW career, a 7-yard gain.
But as the injuries mount, the 5-3 Huskies are limping into a bye week.
“We’ll practice twice, lift a little bit (next week),” Petersen said. “But we’re also one of two teams that (have played) eight weeks straight. So these kids need some time off. We’ll get a couple extra practices, but we’ve got a lot of guys banged up, and they need the break.”
Young receivers step up
The UW offense didn’t seem to miss Fuller.
That’s because a cavalcade of inexperienced wide receivers contributed significant receptions in the 35-31 loss. The longest went to junior Jordan Chin, who settled under a 48-yard looper from Eason for a touchdown — the first of his career — in the second quarter. Ascending freshman Puka Nacua added three catches for 43 yards — including a 33-yard catch-and-run for a score.
“He really has great ball skills, is the main thing,” Petersen said of Nacua. “He’s a big target with great ball skills. That’s what we’re talking about.”
On Saturday, for the first time in two-plus seasons, UW fans were talking about Terrell Bynum. The redshirt sophomore wide receiver, who entered the game with three career catches, added six catches for 43 yards in defeat.
“I’ve been grinding for a while, waiting for my opportunity,” Bynum said. “I feel like today was the day to show it.”
Former four-star redshirt freshman wide receiver Marquis Spiker also contributed his first career catch, for 20 yards.