Jimmy Lake determined the duel.
On one side, Washington’s second-year head coach demanded that “Rome Odunze from Sin City!” — the Huskies’ second-year wide receiver — step to the line of scrimmage. On the other side, he placed 6-foot-1, 200-pound redshirt freshman corner Mishael Powell.
Next, the Huskies’ head coach set the stipulations. Odunze would be required to run exactly one route. And if the pass from starting quarterback Dylan Morris was completed, the entire UW defense would owe 10 pushups. Likewise, if the ball fell incomplete, the offense would hit the deck.
Once the ball was snapped, Odunze jab-stepped, then sprinted down the right sideline. Morris released an arcing deep ball, and his receiver ran under it and raced past an overmatched Powell and into the end zone.
Against a comprehensively formidable UW secondary, this counted as a refreshing triumph for the Husky wide receivers. And after struggling to pile up contested catches in the first three practices of fall camp, UW’s pass-catchers came to play in that department Monday.
Besides the one-on-one duel, Odunze also snatched a leaping 25-yard reception over nickelback Kamren Fabiculanan on a pass from Patrick O’Brien in a scrimmage drill. Wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli and tight end Jack Westover each pulled in one-handed catches on passes from Sam Huard. Michigan wide receiver transfer Giles Jackson had his most impactful day, registering a pair of 20-yard receptions from O’Brien and walk-on quarterback Camden Sirmon.
And near the end of practice, Morris led the first-team offense on a 60-yard touchdown drive that included a nifty 20-yard completion to Jalen McMillan, a precise out-route to Terrell Bynum to move the chains, and a short strike to tight end Cade Otton to get over the goal line.
With every starter returning at quarterback, running back, tight end and on the offensive line, UW’s wide receiver play might ultimately determine what this offense is capable of. That group has struggled to find consistency in recent seasons, and the same can be said of this spring and the first several practices in August.
But Monday, Washington’s wide receivers made plays. Let’s see if they can do it again Tuesday.
Here are some more observations from UW’s fourth practice of fall camp.
Several Hampton sightings
At a robust 6-2 and 220 pounds, Dominique Hampton is hard to miss.
The sophomore safety certainly made his presence felt Monday.
On one of the final plays of the day, Hampton ran step-for-step with Racanelli and leaped to secure a spectacular interception against Huard, the freshman quarterback. He also showed off an aggressive streak with a physical pass breakup on an out-route intended for Westover.
While the competition at safety might be the tightest on the team, it’s becoming more difficult to imagine Hampton not starting against Montana on Sept. 4. He and fellow safeties Julius Irvin, Cameron Williams and Asa Turner continue to alternate first-team reps, with Hampton and Irvin earning the first opportunities Monday.
Irvin also made several impressive plays Monday, but dropped a pair of possible interceptions. Turner collapsed on a pass from Morris to Odunze on third-and-short to force an incompletion as well.
- Sophomore tailback Richard Newton produced the biggest run of camp Monday, gashing up the gut for a 65-yard touchdown. Newton certainly has looked fresh in the first four practices of August.
- Second-year freshman cornerback Jacobe Covington made the biggest hit of the day to emphatically end a Jay’Veon Sunday jaunt along the sideline, causing a short fracas that massive offensive lineman Ulumoo Ale stormed in to break up.
- First-team All-Pac-12 left tackle Jaxson Kirkland did not attend practice, but offensive line coach Scott Huff said it was precautionary and not anything they’re worried about from an injury perspective. Redshirt freshman Troy Fautanu took the first-team reps at left tackle in his place.
- Brendan Radley-Hiles and Fabiculanan continue to share starting reps at nickelback, while outside linebackers Cooper McDonald, Bralen Trice, Ryan Bowman and Sav’ell Smalls all rotated with the first team. Trice managed to nab a sack on O’Brien while he was rolling out of the pocket.
- While Ale continues to be the primary starter at left guard, redshirt freshman Nate Kalepo took a few snaps with the starters at that position as well.
- Cornerbacks Davon Banks and Dyson McCutcheon and inside linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala continue to sit out practice with apparent injuries, while tight end Quentin Moore remains limited as well.
- Freshman cornerback Zakhari Spears continues to impress in his first fall on campus, forcing several incompletions against McMillan on Monday. While Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon have certainly locked down the starting cornerback spots this season, Spears should develop into a contributor in the not-too-distant future.
- Kicker Peyton Henry knocked through 2 of 3 field goal attempts, while Tim Horn went 0 for 1.