It was 84 degrees and sunny, with a pleasant breeze, on the shores of Lake Washington on Monday.
So, naturally, the UW Huskies practiced indoors.
The shorter practice lasted roughly an hour and 20 minutes inside the dimly-lit, slightly stuffy Dempsey Indoor Center. But despite the lack of pads, and precious few scrimmage periods, there were observations to be made.
Here’s what stood out from the Huskies’ fourth practice of fall camp.
The QB competition continues
OK, we won’t draw out the suspense: neither Washington quarterback Jacob Eason nor Jake Haener appeared to separate themselves much on Monday.
Eason — a 6-foot-6 junior with a trebuchet surgically attached to his right shoulder — took the first snaps with the starters and completed a series of short passes, but failed to consistently move the offense. His best completion came in his third and final series, when Eason faked a hand off, turned and ripped a pass down the seam through a tight window to tight end Cade Otton. That throw, which Eason completed without a hint of hesitation, showcased the considerable potential the former five-star Lake Stevens standout brings to the competition.
As for Haener, the 6-0 sophomore started hot — with completions up the middle to wide receiver Chico McClatcher, tight end Devin Culp and wide receiver Ty Jones — before completing just 1 of 3 passes in his second series. The final incompletion could have been costly; after being pressured in the pocket, Haener flipped a lofting pass over the head of a leaping Andre Baccellia. Starting safety Myles Bryant was headed full speed for Baccellia, and in a contact situation he might have knocked the senior wide receiver out of the Dempsey entirely and directly into Lake Washington.
The team’s most impressive quarterback on Monday might have actually been freshman Dylan Morris. The early enrollee from Puyallup was accurate both inside and out of the pocket; most notably, he found fellow freshman Puka Nacua down the sideline for a roughly 30-yard gain. Nacua dived to haul in the pass and dragged his feet in bounds in front of defensive back Devin Bush.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jacob Sirmon’s performance was inconsistent, but more on that below.
(Way too early) starting lineups
What do starting lineups on Aug. 5 really, truly mean?
Probably not much. But here are some anyway.
As stated above, Eason took the first starting quarterback reps on Monday, with Haener also working in with the first group. Running backs Salvon Ahmed and Sean McGrew each received starting reps as well.
As for the pass-catchers, wide receivers Aaron Fuller and Baccellia lined up alongside tight ends Hunter Bryant and Otton with the starters. Wide receivers Quinten Pounds and Jones were the first to work in behind them.
The same offensive line that was settled during the spring — left tackle Trey Adams, left guard Luke Wattenberg, center Nick Harris, right guard Jaxson Kirkland and right tackle Jared Hilbers — operated together on Monday. As they had through the first three practices, senior Henry Roberts and redshirt freshman Matteo Mele alternated between center and left tackle with the second team. They were accompanied by left guard M.J. Ale, right guard Victor Curne and right tackle Henry Bainivalu.
Defensively, the starting defensive linemen on Monday were senior John Clark and redshirt freshman Tuli Letuligasenoa, followed by junior Levi Onwuzurike and senior Benning Potoa’e. The starting inside linebackers were seniors Brandon Wellington and Kyler Manu, followed by redshirt freshmen Jackson Sirmon and M.J. Tafisi. The first-team outside linebackers were junior Ryan Bowman and sophomore Joe Tryon.
The starting secondary has been a constant thus far in fall camp. It goes like this: cornerbacks Keith Taylor and Kyler Gordon, nickelback Elijah Molden and safeties Myles Bryant and Cameron Williams.
A reversal of fortune
Jacob Sirmon should never have thrown it.
The burly 6-5, 234-pound signal caller was flushed out of the pocket late in Monday’s practice, before turning and pitching a prayer high into the middle of the field. Predictably, the ball was tipped into the air and then intercepted by diving nickel back Isaiah Gilchrist.
In this case, revenge was instantaneous. On the following play, Sirmon lofted a floating deep ball toward senior wide receiver McClatcher. McClatcher timed his jump, leaped into a crowd and snared the ball away from Gilchrist, before falling to the turf. He jumped to his feet and held the ball above his head, as his fellow wide receivers sprung onto the field in celebration.
Sirmon’s interception was the day’s only turnover.
Odds and ends
- Freshman outside linebacker Laiatu Latu continues to impress. The mammoth 6-4, 275-pound pass-rusher notched the Huskies’ only sack of the day, collapsing the pocket to tag Eason and end the junior quarterback’s final scrimmage series.
- Bad snaps continue to be a problem early in camp. Senior Henry Roberts and redshirt freshman Will Pliska added two more on Monday.
- After alternating between defensive line and outside linebacker throughout the spring, it appears that senior Potoa’e — who now registers at 6-3 and 290 pounds — has found a home on the line. He certainly appears to have added the necessary strength to stick at the position.
- Junior tight end Jacob Kizer (back), sophomore offensive lineman Cole Norgaard (ankle) and freshman offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (foot) continue to be out, but all three attended practice.
- Freshman safety Asa Turner made a nice play on Monday, streaking to the sideline to break up a long pass from Dylan Morris intended for wide receiver Fatu Sua-Godinet.