UW notebook: Huskies "still stunned" about Darren Gardenhire's sudden departure; plus, UW, WSU presidents make a friendly wager over the Apple Cup.
The Huskies’ Chico McClatcher isn’t the first wide receiver who comes to mind when you think of all the talented wide receivers going into Apple Cup.
Combined, the Huskies and Cougars have five of the 10 most productive wide receivers in the Pac-12 Conference. McClatcher isn’t one of them.
And yet McClatcher’s healthy reemergence gives Jake Browning and the Washington offense a third big-play threat in the passing game that could be a difference-maker Friday in Pullman.
“He’s such a tough guy,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “He got slowed down there for a couple games but still kept battling through it. I think he’s getting back and he’s such a unique guy for us, a unique weapon because of the versatility. He makes it nice when you game plan.”
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A 5-foot-7, 179-pound sophomore slot receiver from Federal Way, McClatcher had a sensational start to the season, scoring four touchdowns in the first three games.
It was around that time that UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said his favorite player to call plays for was McClatcher, because of the receiver’s versatility and explosiveness.
But a knee injury in October kept McClatcher out against Oregon. For the next two weeks after that, it clear he still wasn’t 100-percent healthy.
Finally, in Saturday’s 44-18 rout of Arizona State, McClatcher appeared to have regained his old form. He scored UW’s first touchdown early in the second quarter after catching a short pass from Browning and turning it into a 75-yard touchdown.
It was his first score in more than two months, and the Huskies’ longest play from scrimmage this season.
“I’m good right now,” McClatcher said after the game, when asked about his knee. “Can’t give you a percentage, but I’m good. I’m feeling confident making cuts and everything. I’m feeling pretty good.”
No, McClatcher doesn’t rank among the 10 most productive wide receivers in the Pac-12 in total receiving yards. But he does lead the conference in yards per catch — an average of 22.2 yards on his 22 catches — and he is an X-factor in Friday’s Apple Cup.
Still stunned about Gardenhire
A day later, Washington co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake said Tuesday he was “still stunned” that cornerback Darren Gardenhire quit the team a day earlier.
“No question,” Lake said. “It was obviously just a difference of philosophy. Definitely surprised and still stunned and I love him. I’ll always love him. I recruited him. Spent a lot of time with him. I wish him the best.”
Gardenhire posted a message on social media Monday morning saying made “a real tough decision” to transfer to another school.
Sources told The Times on Monday that Gardenhire quit the team because he refused to take a team-sanctioned drug test. Gardenhire had been given a month’s notice about the test, a source said.
A friendly wager
The UW and WSU presidents have renewed a friendly wager over the outcome of the Apple Cup.
If the Huskies win, UW’s Ana Mari Cauce will receiver from WSU’s Kirk Schulz a shipment of Cougar Gold cheese. If the Cougars win, Schulz will receive Puget Sound salmon from Cauce.
Most humbling? The president of the losing side agreed to wear the opposing school colors and post a selfie in said colors on social media.