If the little receiver is out, it's a long day for Williams

Updated: October 28, 2003, 2:24 AM ET

SEATTLE -- One of the smallest guys on the field can make the biggest difference for the Washington Huskies.

If receiver and return specialist Charles Frederick can't play next weekend against Oregon, that's bad news for Washington fans.

Huskies coach Keith Gilbertson said Monday that Frederick is questionable, giving him a chance to suit up when Washington (4-4, 2-2 Pac-10) meets the Ducks (5-3, 2-2). The coach made it clear that nothing is certain.

"There is nothing to say for sure he will (play) and I'm not going to say he won't," Gilbertson said. "It sounds better than it did Saturday."

Frederick, listed at 6-feet and 180 pounds, sprained his left shoulder in the first half of Washington's 43-23 loss to USC last weekend.

To understand Frederick's impact on Washington's offense, check out the statistics for his All-American teammate. Reggie Williams had nine catches for 115 yards in the first half and was held without a reception in the second half.

Frederick "is a major part of our offense, especially in the throwing game," quarterback Cody Pickett said. "He takes pressure off Reggie."

Gilbertson agreed that Frederick's absence contributed to Williams being shut down in the second half, but he also credited USC's pass rush. The Trojans pressured Pickett all afternoon.

Williams said it's a different game when Frederick is gone.

"It makes it easier to spread everybody out on defense. You can't keep your focus on just one guy," he said.

Frederick was being treated for his injury Monday and missed Washington's weekly news conference with reporters. He was held out of practice and Gilbertson expects to know later in the week if he can play.

Frederick's importance was evident when the Huskies lost to Nevada on Oct. 11. With Frederick slowed by the flu, Williams was held to three catches for 77 yards -- and most of those yards came on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Pickett.

The following week, Frederick was back at full strength.

He set a school record with 371 all-purpose yards -- nine receptions for 216 yards and two TDs and an 86-yard punt return for another score -- as the Huskies rebounded with a 38-17 win at Oregon State.

"He brings a lot of differences to our team," Williams said. "He's a great returner on kickoffs and punts and a great receiver. Not having a guy like that is always going to hurt."

If Frederick can't play, the Huskies will turn to freshman Sonny Shackelford, who caught one pass for 12 yards against USC.

"Sonny just needs more experience," Pickett said. "He's a young guy. He's going to make plays around here. He'll do very well by the time he's leaving. But like I said, he's a freshman."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index