Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez signs autographs for fans on the sideline before a game between Washington and Oregon on Oct. 14 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez signs autographs for fans on the sideline before a game between Washington and Oregon on Oct. 14 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

J-Rod makes his UW debut

The Mariners star was among a smattering of celebrities on the Huskies’ sideline against Oregon.

By Mike Vorel / The Seattle Times

Julio Rodriguez, meet Kalen DeBoer.

No. 5 Washington’s 36-33 win over No. 9 Oregon on Saturday overflowed into spectacle, as a random smattering of celebrities — Joel McHale, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, etc. — graced Husky Stadium’s sideline.

But for Seattle sports fans, the most familiar face belonged to Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez — who received a road No. 44 Husky jersey from DeBoer before the game.

Rodriguez — the Mariners’ 22-year-old star, who has hit 60 home runs with 178 RBI and back-to-back All-Star Game appearances in his first two seasons — twisted his fingers into Ws on an Instagram story following Washington’s win, his first college football game.

“It’s fun. I’m glad this is a place where people want to come and feel like they can add to the excitement and also feel entertained,” said DeBoer, UW’s second-year coach. “So there’s a lot of pieces that made Saturday really cool and are making being around our program a lot of fun. I love it.

“I told Julio I’m proud of what he does for our city. We are trying to do our part as a football program to bring people together and make Saturday special, but there’s no question (about) what he does and the excitement he generates. I told him my own family loves watching him play. We’re excited about what he does. We love the game of baseball. It was really fun to see him on the sideline and be able to present him a jersey.”

About that injury

New season.

Same game plan?

In UW’s 37-34 upset of Oregon last fall, wide receiver Kris Hutson made a 12-yard catch for a first down on the Ducks’ final drive, stood up, then fell again. Hutson’s injury critically stopped the clock for Oregon, which was out of timeouts with six seconds left. He reentered the game one play later.

The following week, Hutson told local media the injury “was a part of the game plan. It wasn’t nothing too special. But I’m all right, though.”

A similar scenario played out on Saturday, when Oregon tight end Terrance Ferguson logged a 15-yard reception with 17 seconds left. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound junior tumbled to the turf without being touched, reached for his left knee, then switched to his right.

“First he grabbed the left knee. Then he went to the right knee,” ABC color commentator Kirk Herbstreit noted at the time. “I’m not sure which knee’s injured there.”

As Ferguson was attended to by trainers, UW edge Zion Tupuola-Fetui gave two thumbs down, facing the student section. There was a smattering of boos from an apparently skeptical Husky Stadium crowd, likely aware of the previous Hutson play. The stoppage allowed Oregon to preserve its lone timeout.

After being helped off by trainers, Ferguson later appeared uninjured, walking with his helmet and no noticeable limp. He was a full participant in Oregon’s practice on Tuesday, according to James Crepea of The Oregonian.

Is it possible Oregon faked an injury to stop the clock on its final drive for a second consecutive season?

“You have to give the student-athlete the benefit of the doubt,” UW co-defensive coordinator William Inge said Monday. “Because if he really is hurt, you don’t want to be the person who’s ridiculing him.

“It’s something that’s literally out of our control. We still have to play the plays, let everything work itself out, and make sure if the clock does stop, do your job when the clock is running, and make your play when it counts the most.”

The Oregon aftermath

DeBoer says he received roughly 700 messages in the wake of Saturday’s win.

He has since replied to each of them “in some form or fashion.”

But sacrifices must be made.

“I finally got to them last night,” DeBoer said with a smile. “I need to apologize to my mom, because she got a heart emoji on Saturday and that was about it. Hers were buried in there with the other 700 or so of them. But it’s awesome. It’s cool to have that and have the support. It’s from one side of the country to the other — friends, family, peers and all that stuff. It’s exciting.”

It was equally exciting for second-year UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, who said the highlight of his night was “seeing Mike (Penix Jr.) in the tunnel after the game. That honestly caught me off guard a little bit, just being emotional. I hadn’t really had that moment this year yet with Mike. Last year in the locker room at Oregon was kind of like that. Just to see that kid rise up in a moment like this was really special.”

But even after Penix found wide receiver Rome Odunze with an 18-yard touchdown to take a 36-33 lead with 1:38 left, Grubb began to script plays for overtime. He cautioned his Heisman candidate quarterback not to prematurely celebrate as well.

“I just told Mike (on the headset), ‘Go up and down the sideline right now and get the guys’ minds set that we’re still going to have to go out in overtime and win this football game. That’s what’s going to happen. Or we’re going to have to score virtually with no time left,’” Grubb recalled. “Because you don’t want the guys just sitting there, waiting for the defense to win the game, per se.

“Obviously that’s what everybody wants to happen, but the letdown of that, if you allow it to happen, makes it really hard to get up for overtime. So that’s a really critical piece Mike did a good job with.”

And as for afterward?

“After the game I hung out with family here, went home, opened a good bottle of vino and celebrated the win,” Grubb said with a smile.

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