A rough start to the season took another tumultuous turn for Washington’s young defensive secondary last week.
UW redshirt freshman Jermaine Kelly, a starting cornerback in the 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 for the Illinois games after his sideline tantrum a week earlier.
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“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 beaten 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 place-kicker, also converted from 20 and 25 yards.
Riva sits again
Senior right tackle Ben Riva (knee) missed his second game with what Petersen described as 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.
• Senior Hau’oli Kikaha had three of UW’s six sacks against Illinois, giving him 22 sacks for his career to move into sixth all-time or the Huskies in that category.
• The Huskies have scored on all 13 trips to the red zone this season, with nine touchdowns.