Jimmy Lake loves to simulate special situations.
Like this one: late Saturday, in the eighth practice of fall camp, the Huskies’ head coach placed Washington’s starting offense on its own 40-yard line, with a 27-20 deficit and 1:30 left.
With live tackling allowed, Dylan Morris and Co. were given 90 seconds to travel 60 yards.
On the drive’s opening play, Morris hit wide receiver Terrell Bynum on an out route for a 7-yard gain. He then handed to Richard Newton for a 3-yard plunge to move the chains and stop the clock.
After surrendering a sack by second-year outside linebacker Cooper McDonald, UW faced second-and-14 from its own 46-yard line. Morris took the snap, bought time and delivered a 24-yard strike over the middle to wide receiver Rome Odunze, who dropped to the turf at the defense’s 30-yard line.
After Morris tossed to Newton for a 1-yard gain and the offense called its only timeout, the third-year passer from Puyallup struck again — lofting a perfect 27-yard looper down the seam that tight end Cade Otton caught in stride (while absorbing a hit from safety Dominique Hampton) at the 2-yard line.
From there, the Husky offense was unceremoniously extinguished. On first-and-goal from the 2, inside linebacker Jackson Sirmon busted up the middle to stand up Newton for a 3-yard loss. Morris spiked the ball to stop the clock, then threw a pass out of the back of the end zone when few eligible options emerged.
So there stood UW’s starters on both sides of the ball, facing off on fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line with three seconds left. Morris took a shotgun snap and was immediately flushed to his right, scanning for an open receiver but finding none. He kept the play alive, retreating left, before finally firing a bullet toward Otton in the back of the end zone.
It was intercepted by sophomore safety Julius Irvin instead.
Still, Morris made plenty of plays of his own Saturday. The 6-foot, 200-pounder threw a pair of touchdown passes — a 25-yarder down the left sideline to Odunze on the first play of a non-contact red-zone drill, followed by a 28-yarder to Bynum on the opposite side during a live-tackling scrimmage period. In the aforementioned scrimmage, Morris went 9 for 15 for 116 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
As for the other Husky signal-callers, sixth-year senior Patrick O’Brien went 9 for 17 for 102 yards and an interception during the scrimmage portion Saturday, while freshman Sam Huard finished 11 for 17 for 99 yards and a pick of his own while working with the third team. The O’Brien interception ricocheted off the hands of tight end Mark Redman before falling into the arms of redshirt freshman corner Mishael Powell. Walk-on inside linebacker Ben Hines snagged the other interception, collecting a Huard pass over the middle that was intended for Redman as well.
Here are some other observations from UW’s eighth fall practice, which included the most legitimate scrimmaging thus far.
Running back impressions
Washington’s running backs — of which there are seven on scholarship — continue to impress.
Sixth-year senior Sean McGrew received more work with the first team Saturday and scored a 15-yard touchdown in a red-zone drill, squeezing through a hole on the left side of the line before sprinting the rest of the way to paydirt. Redshirt freshman Cameron Davis also made an impression as a pass-catcher, notably feeling his way around blocks for a 16-yard gain on a screen during the scrimmage. After talking with UW running backs coach Keith Bhonapha after practice, there seems to be more emphasis on including the tailbacks in the passing game this season (although, to be honest, we’ve heard that before).
And while they might not receive many carries this fall, second-year freshmen Jay’Veon Sunday and Sam Adams II seem to be making strides. Sunday specifically bouldered into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown with the third team Saturday, and also zipped around the right edge for a 19-yard gain. All seven scholarship running backs have flashed at times in the first eight practices, a positive sign for the 2021 season and beyond.
Pass rush particulars
Without Zion Tupuola-Fetui — at least for a while — the Husky pass rush is going to have to come from multiple places this fall.
And that was certainly the case Saturday.
Defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa, outside linebackers Bralen Trice and Cooper McDonald, and cornerback Kyler Gordon all picked up a sack during scrimmage drills. Gordon bolted up the middle on a blitz to tag off Morris and end a drive on third-and-nine, raising both arms in celebration as he sprinted to the sideline. The 6-2, 300-pound Letuligasenoa also has been a consistently disruptive force on the UW interior, something the Husky defense noticeably lacked last season.
As Sirmon against Newton, redshirt freshman inside linebacker Daniel Heimuli came up the middle to emphatically stuff McGrew for a tackle for loss. And true freshman defensive lineman Kuao Peihopa blew up several plays Saturday, continuing an impressive fall camp and earning kudos from Letuligasenoa on the sideline.
- Huard’s most impressive plays were back-to-back completions to speedy wide receiver Giles Jackson for 10 and 15 yards.
- In the ongoing nickelback competition, Oklahoma transfer Brendan Radley-Hiles produced a head-turning play Saturday — colliding with Otton to knock a pass away from the sure-handed All-Pac-12 tight end. Expect “Bookie” ultimately to start at the nickel spot over redshirt freshman Kamren Fabiculanan.
- Though Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale remains the primary starter, redshirt freshman Nate Kalepo took a few first-team reps at right guard Saturday.
- The primary punt returners were wide receivers Jalen McMillan and Taj Davis.
- On the injury front, safety Asa Turner and wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli were not present for the second consecutive practice. Linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala, safety Cameron Williams, cornerbacks Elijah Jackson, Davon Banks and Dyson McCutcheon, outside linebacker Jordan Lolohea, tight end Quentin Moore and offensive lineman Samuel Peacock all watched the proceedings from the sideline.
- Kicker Peyton Henry went 1 for 2 on field goals (good from 26, miss from 49), while Tim Horn converted on a 23-yard try.
- Washington returns for its ninth practice of fall camp at 10 a.m. Sunday.