Secondary may catch break vs.
By Bob Condotta
Seattle Times staff reporter
Next up for UW:
Tedford announced that junior-college transfer Joe Ayoob will start for the Bears when they play at UW on Saturday in place of injured starter Nate Longshore, who broke his left ankle late in the first half of
Ayoob came to
When Ayoob replaced Longshore on Saturday, he promptly misfired on his first 10 passes before being replaced himself by third-teamer Steve Levy, who was playing fullback this time a year ago.
"That was a tough start for him, no question about it," said Tedford of Ayoob.
But Tedford also said Ayoob might have been thrown off by suddenly having to step in for Longshore while the team was running a two-minute drill — he had been expected to see time in the third quarter — and that he had two passes dropped.
"He was making the right reads, and he had a couple of dropped balls, and another one there was miscommunication with the receiver, so it wasn't all him," Tedford said. "He put some pressure on himself. Now being the starter will be better for him. He doesn't have to wait his turn. He can go in the game and get the jitters out of the way early."
Ayoob will also have a week to prepare for a Huskies secondary that remains dangerously thin despite the probable return of two players injured in the first half of Saturday's 20-17 loss to Air Force.
UW's lack of depth was evident, however, when Josh Okoebor, a JC transfer a year ago who then sat out the season with a knee injury, was forced into the first Division I action of his career and was targeted by Air Force on several key plays late in the game.
Other than the probable returns of Lewis and Wallace, the depth situation doesn't figure to improve.
Willingham said yesterday there is no change in the status of Chris Handy — who was expected to be the No. 3 cornerback before being declared ineligible last week — and that he doesn't expect to move players from other positions to fill in.
JC transfer Marlon Wood, for instance, began fall camp as a cornerback before being moved to receiver early on. He didn't play Saturday, but Willingham said yesterday he expects to keep Wood at receiver. "He's better suited where he is," Willingham said.
Asked if he felt comfortable with UW's depth situation in the secondary, Willingham said, "No, but it's what we have."
UW players expect
"They are going to let the ball go," cornerback Matt Fountaine said. "If you see the fact that some guys are hurt, you would definitely try to exploit that. They will max protect and go downfield; that's what we are expecting. It's going to be a great challenge for us, but we are going to be up for it."
Willingham said left tackle Joe Toledo will be out this week and could miss another game or two with a high ankle sprain. Defensive end Brandon Ala will be out "a couple of weeks" with a knee injury.
The loss of
• Willingham's evaluation of the Air Force loss didn't change much after watching film. "The key thing is learning how to close a football game out and that's what we didn't do," he said. "We didn't make those five or six plays down the stretch that make the difference, and that's what good teams do."
• Willingham said he is "hopeful" that RB Kenny James (shoulder) will return this week.
• Willingham elaborated on his decision to go for it on fourth-and-two at the Air Force 18 in the first quarter with UW ahead 3-0, an attempt that failed: "It's rare that field goals win a football game. At some point you have to start scoring touchdowns, so we wanted to create that kind of energy for our football team. We thought we could make it."
• Asked again about the status of WR Craig Chambers, Willingham said again that "Craig has done some good things, but other guys have played better at his position."
• DT Andy Heater ended up snapping for punts since LB Joe Lobendahn, officially listed as the snapper, has to wear a brace on his arm that makes it difficult to snap.
• G-C Juan Garcia, sidelined early in camp, is likely out for the year after having surgery on his arm last week.
• O'Dea High School grad Anthony Felder, a true freshman at Cal, is listed as a backup at outside linebacker and had one tackle for the Bears Saturday.
• LB Darrion Jones was the only true freshman to play for UW.
• UW student-athletes and volunteers from KING-5 TV and KJR-AM will be collecting funds to support the Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina relief efforts at all entrances to Husky Stadium on Saturday.
• Casey Paus is again listed as the backup quarterback.