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Drop it: UW receiver Kearse not looking back

Husky wide receiver went back to the basics to correct case of dropsies

  • Husky wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who dealt with a problem with dropped passes last season, says he's not even thinking about it this year.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Husky wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who dealt with a problem with dropped passes last season, says he's not even thinking about it this year.

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Husky wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who dealt with a problem with dropped passes last season, says he's not even thinking about it this year.

    Jennifer Buchanan / The Herald

    Husky wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who dealt with a problem with dropped passes last season, says he's not even thinking about it this year.

SEATTLE -- On a University of Washington football team that lost its biggest offensive weapon and needs someone to help bring along a talented group of receivers, senior wideout Jermaine Kearse has been surprising in his ability to stay out of the spotlight as of late.
And that's just fine with Kearse.
Too often last season, the UW storyline revolved around Kearse's dropped passes, and so the fact that the Huskies' leading receiver has quietly gone through the first week of camp without much notice is somewhat encouraging.
"I don't really think about that," Kearse said late last week of the dropped passes that hounded him in 2010. "I feel like it's a new year, and I've been catching the ball real well. I've been looking the ball in, so I think that's been definitely helping."
By renewing his dedication to fundamentals, and returning to his routine of post-practice work on the JUGS machine, Kearse seemed to come out of his midseason funk by the end of the 2010 season. His performance at fall training camp has added enthusiasm within the coaching staff, but they know there is still work to be done.
"It's never something that's just completely out of your mind," receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty said. "You're always shooting for perfection, and if you're not perfect, you're not there yet."
During one three-week span at the beginning of last October, Kearse dropped seven passes in games against USC, Arizona State and Oregon State. He finished the season with an unofficial total of 11 drops, a team high.
Kearse attacked the problem head on, taking full responsibility for the dropped passes and promising to work through his struggles. After falling out of the habit of catching extra balls after practice, Kearse returned to that exercise and soon found his rhythm again.
"I got away from the normal things I do," Kearse said last week.
Dougherty said the problem could have been related to fatigue, adding that the offensive coaches are hoping to take advantage of the team's wealth of receivers this season and give Kearse a few more snaps off.
"We have faith in the other guys that we can get him out and keep him fresher -- in each game and in the season," Dougherty said. "I think that's going to help him a lot."
Kearse will still see plenty of action, and his ability to play any of the four receiver positions -- flanker, split end and the slots on either side -- all but guarantees playing time.
Kearse, who has led the Huskies in receiving in each of the past two seasons after catching 113 passes for 1,871 yards and 18 touchdowns, is hoping to put up big numbers again in his final year at UW. The NFL is a real possibility, provided the 6-foot-2, 208-pound receiver has a strong finish to his college career.
"To get to where I want to be, I've got to play hard," Kearse said. "I just use that as motivation."
As far as motivation goes, Kearse isn't using his 2010 struggles as a driving force. He's not even thinking about the dropped passes anymore.
"I don't think that was (an issue last season)," he said four days ago. "The people that know know that that's not me. So that doesn't come up a lot."
The UW coaches aren't too worried about dropped passes being a problem for Kearse this season.
"We know Jermaine's going to be there for us," Dougherty said. "He's made a ton of plays for us over the past two years. While he didn't make every play for us last year, he sure made a lot of football plays for us -- a lot of big plays. The goal is definitely to catch them all, and until he does that, we know we're not there yet."
Story tags » Huskies Football

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