‘Video game’ John Ross III ignites Husky offense
After a quiet few weeks from Washington’s most exciting player, John Ross III helped to quiet some of the consternation of the UW offense Saturday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
BERKELEY, Calif. — After a quiet few weeks from Washington’s most exciting player, John Ross III helped to quiet some of the consternation of the UW offense Saturday.
Ross, the sophomore receiver, had a career-high 118 receiving yards on four catches in the Huskies’ 31-7 victory over the Cal Bears on Saturday. He had an 86-yard catch-and-go touchdown and nearly had another in the fourth quarter on a thrilling, zigzag run that was nullified by a penalty.
“It’s like a video game when that guy touches the ball,” UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said.
Ross’ 86-yard touchdown came on an inside screen pass late in the second quarter, extending the Huskies’ lead to 28-0 at halftime. Several Cal defenders appeared to be in position to tackle Ross, but he burst to the left and broke free.
“I found a crease and saw that it was a footrace and just wanted to do my job,” he said.
Ross’ best play didn’t count. In the fourth quarter, he took another quick pass from Cyler Miles and made Cal defenders miss at least nine times on attempted tackles as he weaved from the right side of the field to the left on a 45-yard run, going down only when he ran into his own offensive lineman, Coleman Shelton. (The play was wiped out, however, on an illegal block by tight end Joshua Perkins, who was ejected for targeting.)
“He’s special, man. He’s really dynamic,” Smith said of Ross. “He’s a special player and he’s working hard, and we need to keep finding ways to get it to him.”
In their last game, sophomore quarterback Miles and the offense struggled in a 20-13 loss to Stanford, managing just six points and 179 yards. Ross, limited by a minor knee injury, had just three catches for 16 yards that day.
Miles had taken the bulk of the criticism after the Stanford loss.
“He handled it really well,” receiver DiAndre Campbell said. “I was really proud of him. He’s been nothing but positive in practices and meetings. He’s been diligent to make sure he came out and performed his best.”
Against a Cal defense ranked among the worst in the nation, Miles was smooth and efficient, throwing for 273 yards and three touchdowns.
“I thought the offense played decent. Still can pick it up a little bit, but I’m happy with the win,” Miles said.
Miles’ best throw might have been a slant pass to Campbell, an Oakland native, against tight coverage for an 11-yard touchdown to push UW’s lead to 21-0 in the second quarter.
Perkins, the junior tight end playing in his first game of the season after recovering from an unspecified injury, had a 25-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, the first touchdown by a Washington tight end this season.
Perkins was, however, later ejected for what officials deemed an illegal block to the head of a Cal defender in the fourth quarter.
His ejection means he’s in line to miss the first half of UW’s next game, at Oregon, though the play will almost certainly be reviewed by the Pac-12. If it’s deemed that the hit was legal, his one-half suspension could be overturned.
• Senior right tackle Ben Riva returned to the starting lineup for UW but didn’t play after the first quarter. He missed four games this season with a knee injury.
• True freshman receiver Brayden Lenius made his first career start for the Huskies. UW’s other true freshman receiver, Dante Pettis, had his first career reception, a 9-yard gain to convert on third down.
• Backup linebacker Azeem Victor returned after missing the previous three games with a sprained ankle.
|California had scored 164 points in its previous three games, including 60 against Washington State in its most recent game. But on Saturday, the Golden Bears struggled to get much going. Here’s how they fared in certain categories compared to their game against WSU:|
|Category||vs. WSU||vs. UW|
|Net yards passing||527||304|
|Total net yards||589||368|
|Average gain per play||8.3||4.4|