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Originally published November 18, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Page modified November 19, 2014 at 4:23 PM

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Kasen Williams hopes to play bigger role in Huskies offense

Washington receiver Kasen Williams caught five passes in the Huskies’ loss at Arizona on Saturday. He had caught just seven passes in UW’s first 10 games this season.


Seattle Times staff reporter

SATURDAY

Oregon St. @ UW, 7:30 p.m., Pac-12

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It took some time. Longer, perhaps, that he would have preferred. But Kasen Williams’ confidence is back.

His game is, too.

Williams finally kick-started his quiet senior year with a season-high five catches, for 39 yards, in Washington’s 27-26 loss at Arizona on Saturday. The senior receiver, whose 2013 season was cut short by a broken left leg and foot, had entered the game with just seven catches in UW’s first 10 games this season.

“He’s worked his way back,” fellow receiver Jaydon Mickens said. “He’s fought every day through pain, through injuries, through everything. To see him out there in Tucson, his swagger was all the way through the roof. He was just so confident in everything he was doing.

“He was strong, he was fast, he was physical, and it was awesome to see. It looked like the old Kasen Williams.”

In his mind, Williams said, he was 100 percent healthy at the start of fall camp in August. In truth, he admitted Tuesday, he wasn’t fully returned from the injuries until early October.

“Ever since then,” he said, “everything’s been rollin’. I’ve been looking good on film and playing smoothly. It’s just about getting the coaches to trust that it’s all good and everything’s fine. And I think I’ve built that trust with that now. So I’m ready to go.”

His performance Saturday, he believes, was a sign of things to come over UW’s final two regular-season games.

“It was important,” Williams said, “because I just needed to show I’m back. I needed to show Cyler (Miles) that there’s confidence. I needed to show coaches that there’s confidence. And I needed to show myself that there’s confidence. And you know me: I know that it’s there. I just needed to let them know so that they could start trusting me more.”

The struggles in the passing game, centered on Miles, the first-year quarterback, have been “a combination of a lot of things,” Williams said.

“Everything being new in all areas — coaches, the quarterback, system, everything,” Williams said. “And with me, just trying to get back from my foot. And I feel good. I’ve been feeling 100 percent for a while now. So it’s about time we start proving it. You’re going to see me on the field a lot more, making more plays.”

Shaq remains a Heisman hopeful

Earlier this month, the Huskies’ Shaq Thompson received a letter from the Heisman Trophy Trust naming him a “potential candidate for the Heisman Memorial Trophy.”

He was one of 25 players nationally to receive the letter.

Thompson started to generate Heisman buzz last month after scoring his fourth defensive touchdown of the season. That’s the most by a player in the past decade, according to ESPN research.

Since then, the junior linebacker spent three games as UW’s primary running back, and he’s rushed for 456 yards this season. His average of 7.5 yards per carry is the best in the Pac-12.

Against Arizona on Saturday, he returned to his preferred starting spot at linebacker and had one fumble recovery, his fourth of the season, tied for the national lead.

“When he’s out there, he’s going to make plays,” UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said Tuesday. “He’s going to be around the ball and he brings great energy. ... Shaq being Shaq, he’s just a great guy. He’s got that great energy, a great personality (that) guys sort of gravitate to and like to be around.”

A rout rekindled

The Huskies’ most impressive win of the 2013 season was a 69-27 rout of Oregon State in Corvallis in mid-November. Oregon State coach Mike Riley was asked Tuesday on the Pac-12 coaches teleconference if that loss was motivating for his players.

“It’s funny you ask that,” he said, “because I just asked them how much they remembered about that game at the end of practice today. I guess there’s many different buttons pushed about motivation, but that may be very, very appropriate for most of us here.”

The Beavers, coming off an upset of then-No. 7 Arizona State on Saturday, visit Husky Stadium for a 7:30 kickoff Saturday night.

Adam Jude: 206-464-2364 or ajude@seattletimes.com.



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