It’s not a pleasant memory for Washington cornerback Quinton Richardson from 2008.
As with this weekend, there was something on the line then for the Washington program. The Huskies were 0-10 and head coach Tyrone Willingham was playing out the string. He already was fired. Washington was just trying to win a game.
Even at 0-10, the Huskies were favored to beat the one-win Cougars. Washington State was viewed as one of the worst teams in the country. Washington was in position to alter the pending infamy. Just 56 seconds remained, Washington State was down three, at its own 20-yard line, and had no timeouts.
On a first down throw from their own 34, the Cougars gained all the yards they needed to be in position for a tying field goal — Kevin Lopina to Jarred Karstetter for 48 yards.
The play had two culprits: Safety Tripper Johnson, who was late coming over, and cornerback Quinton Richardson. A redshirt freshman at the time, Richardson bit on a pump fake from Lopina. Off went Karstetter. The game was tied on a field goal and Washington State won in double overtime, prompting coach Paul Wulff to perform a disjointed version of dancing.
Heading toward this week’s Apple Cup, Richardson is answering questions for a different reason. He has two interceptions the past two weeks, delivering a physical, and unexpected, brand of play at corner. He’s evolved from issue to reliable.
Hyped cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin points to Richardson altering three phrases: on-field, off-field and academics. “Just finally getting everything in order,” Martin said.
More important is an immeasurable aspect. The instant positive comment about Richardson regards his frame: 6 feet, 200 pounds. Healthy for a corner. But his practice habits were poor. His results were poor. Subsequently, his confidence was in the muck.
Much like Aerosmith tickets in “Dazed and Confused,” spurring Richardson’s confidence was the top priority of the summer.
“He was playing not to make a mistake and playing to please us as coaches,” Martin said. “Instead of just saying, ‘Hey man, let me go out there, when I see it, I know, I’ll go.’
“Now that’s kind of clearing for him. As opposed to ‘I don’t want to make a mistake, I don’t want to disappoint the team. I don’t want to disappoint coach.’ Now, it’s just go play.”
Richardson harnessed Washington’s schemes. According to defensive coordinator Nick Holt, he’s also one of several Huskies making a simple adjustment.
“We’re making plays,” Holt said. “It’s nothing fancy, trust me. It’s just guys are finally … we’ve had guys in the past, last year and this year, in position to make plays and now we’re making them, quite honestly.”
Richardson made one odd post-practice play on Tuesday. Unprompted, he brought up his busted coverage from 2008. Does that play stick in his head?
“Nah,” Richardson said. “It’s old news. Just let it go.”
He’s been making better news of late.