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Big penalties, big-play mistakes plague UW's defensive backs

  • Husky safety Nate Williams (8) tackles Arizona's Keola Antolin (2) in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Williams says the defensive backs just nee...

    Willy Low / Associated Press

    Husky safety Nate Williams (8) tackles Arizona's Keola Antolin (2) in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Williams says the defensive backs just need to “clean up the little things.”

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Husky safety Nate Williams (8) tackles Arizona's Keola Antolin (2) in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Williams says the defensive backs just nee...

    Willy Low / Associated Press

    Husky safety Nate Williams (8) tackles Arizona's Keola Antolin (2) in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Williams says the defensive backs just need to “clean up the little things.”

SEATTLE — A secondary plagued by mistakes might be hurting the University of Washington football team this season, but don't count head coach Steve Sarkisian among the people who are surprised.
When Sarkisian was asked Monday about a cornerback position that was perceived to be a strength in the preseason, he quipped: “I don't know who said they were a strength.”
After Saturday's performance, no one seems to be making that claim. The Huskies gave up 233 passing yards and two touchdowns to Arizona backup quarterback Matt Scott and were flagged for three pass-interference penalties. Cornerback Quinton Richardson was also flagged for a 15-yard facemask penalty on third-and-15.
“The unfortunate thing for us has been, when the ball's in the air, we have a tendency to panic right now,” Sarkisian said. “And we don't need to. They are better players than that, and I see it every day in practice.”
Safety Nate Williams said the performance was not indicative of UW's secondary.
“We had two or three third-and-longs when they bombed it up there, and our corners ended up getting P.I. calls,” he said. “We just have to clean up the little things and clean up our technique. When we have the chance to make the play, we have to trust our technique and make our plays.”
Sarkisian did defend his cornerbacks to a degree Monday, saying that “some of (the pass interference) calls that have been made I don't agree with.”
When asked to be specific, he said: “I don't remember.”
Elisara hurting
Senior defensive end Cameron Elisara, who has been battling a shoulder stinger for more than a year, is “doubtful” for the Stanford game, Sarkisian said Monday.
Elisara has played in all seven games, with six starts, but has just nine tackles and a half-sack. He started at defensive tackle the first three games of the season before moving outside to end to help ease the strain on his neck and shoulder.
Senior De'Shon Matthews is likely to start at end in Elisara's place. Matthews started the Arizona State game while Elisara saw limited action as a reserve.
Another injury the Huskies are monitoring this week involves the knee of starting strongside linebacker Victor Aiyewa. The senior did not start the Arizona game but played most of the second half.
In Aiyewa's absence, leading tackler Mason Foster was moved from weakside linebacker while freshman Princeton Fuimaono made his first career start.
Here today, gone tomorrow
The Huskies' helter-skelter season seems to be wearing on at least one member of UW's coaching staff.
When asked about the win-one-week-and-lose-the-next pattern of this year's Huskies, Sarkisian said: “Hopefully we can continue to trend (this Saturday). Let's win this week, and then we'll deal with that next (week).”
The Huskies (3-4 overall, 2-2 in the Pac-10) have yet to put together a two-game streak of either wins or losses this season. Dating back to the season-ending win over Cal in 2009, UW has now gone eight consecutive games of alternating wins and losses — the program's longest such “streak” of non-streaks since 1994-95.
“It's been kind of crazy as far as that goes, week in and week out,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “… Every week, the guys come prepared, ready to play and practice, bring energy and a tempo to practice that is something that we're looking for. I think our preparation has been good and consistent. For one reason or another, the consistency on Saturdays just hasn't been there.”
Another O-line shuffle?
Monday's afternoon practice included yet another new look on the UW offensive line.
Freshman Erik Kohler, a former starting guard who has been sidelined by mononucleosis, was working with the first team at right tackle. That pushed Drew Schaefer back to his original position at center and left senior Gregory Christine out of the mix.
Earlier in the day, Sarkisian was mum when asked whether the starting five offensive linemen would remain the same as they have in the past two games.
“We'll assess it,” he said.
The Huskies have started the same five for the past two weeks, with Schaefer at right tackle, freshman Colin Porter at right guard, Christine at center, senior Ryan Tolar at left guard and Senio Kelemete at left tackle.
If Kohler starts at right tackle Saturday, it would mark the fifth starting line the Huskies will have used in eight games this season.
Short yardage
As of Monday, the Huskies still hadn't been informed of the scheduled kickoff for next Saturday's game at Oregon. The top-ranked Ducks host UW in Eugene. … Stanford's roster includes sophomore fullback Geoff Meinken, a Lynnwood High School product who has played in two games this season but has yet to start. He is not listed on the team's two-deep depth chart. … Saturday's game will be televised on Versus network, with former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Kelly Stouffer serving as an analyst.
Story tags » FootballHuskies FootballNCAA Football

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