Jake Haener should not have thrown it.
Early in Washington’s fourth practice of the spring Monday, the 6-foot, 196-pound sophomore quarterback — who again took the first reps with the starters — looked to his right and delivered a pass on a short out-route toward the sideline. The pass was caught.
But not by the intended target.
Instead, junior cornerback Keith Taylor easily jumped the route, snagged the football with both hands and returned it untouched for a touchdown.
Haener later made up for his mistake, hitting redshirt freshman wide receiver Austin Osborne in stride behind safety Alex Cook along the right sideline for a 48-yard score, the Huskies’ only touchdown of the day.
Haener — and the rest of UW’s quarterbacks, for that matter — were inconsistent Monday. Haener found senior wide receiver Andre Baccellia in a tight window down the seam, but he also threw a floating deep ball to Jordan Chin that was knocked away and probably should have been intercepted by early enrollee safety Cam Williams.
Junior quarterback Jacob Eason also struggled to move the ball in a modest number of scrimmage snaps Monday. In a seven-on-seven drill, he zipped a pass well wide of Chin along the sideline. But he also found sophomore wide receiver Terrell Bynum — who had earned some separation from cornerback Kyler Gordon — on a crossing route, and he rifled a pass between defenders to tight end Cade Otton. Eason twice drew UW defensive linemen offsides with an effective hard count as well.
The quarterbacks weren’t the only inconsistent Huskies on Monday, however. Wide receivers Bynum, Baccellia and Marquis Spiker and tight end Devin Culp all dropped passes in a spitting rain on the east practice field, and then later rebounded with receptions.
The offense can’t be completely blamed for its lack of production, however. In his first snaps with the starters this spring, redshirt freshman cornerback Kyler Gordon starred, breaking up multiple passes in tight coverage and even leaping to bat down an Eason pass attempt on a blitz. Williams continued to impress in his first spring on campus, forcing several incompletions on deep balls. Junior Isaiah Gilchrist made the most of a couple reps at cornerback, jumping to break up a deep ball on a go-route from Haener to Spiker.
Here are a couple more observations from practice Monday.
Myles Bryant shifts to safety
The UW secondary looked a little bit different Monday as senior Myles Bryant shifted from nickelback to safety, beside junior Brandon McKinney. The other starters were cornerbacks Keith Taylor and Kyler Gordon and nickelback Elijah Molden. It’s worth noting as well that redshirt freshman Dominic Hampton took a few snaps as a starting corner but appeared to tweak something and was limited for the remainder of practice.
As for the rest of the starting Husky defense, Levi Onwuzurike, John Clark and Tuli Letuligasenoa all received first-team reps on the defensive line. Same as last week, the starting inside linebackers were seniors Brandon Wellington and Kyler Manu and the outside linebackers were junior Ryan Bowman and sophomore Joe Tryon. It also looks as if sophomore Ariel Ngata has made a permanent move to inside linebacker, where he was practicing with the No. 2 team Monday.
With center Nick Harris apparently limited with an injury, the starting offensive line Monday consisted of left tackle Trey Adams, left guard Luke Wattenberg, center Cole Norgaard, right guard Jaxson Kirkland and right tackle Jared Hilbers. Junior college transfer offensive lineman Corey Luciano and redshirt freshman Will Pliska both worked with the second-team offensive line at center.
Haener and Eason continued to split snaps with the starters at quarterback, as did running backs Salvon Ahmed and Sean McGrew and tight ends Hunter Bryant, Cade Otton and Jacob Kizer. Without the injured Aaron Fuller and Ty Jones, wide receivers Bynum and Baccellia got the most starting snaps (in a lot of two-tight end sets). Chico McClatcher, Chin, Osborne and Spiker all cycled in with the backups.
Fifth-year senior Benning Potoa’e — who had shifted from outside linebacker inside to the defensive line previously this spring — was back at outside linebacker Monday, possibly because outside linebackers Myles Rice and Zion Tupuola-Fetui were both injured.
Jusstis Warren leaves the team
UW tight ends coach Jordan Paopao confirmed after practice Monday that fifth-year senior Jusstis Warren is no longer with the team. Warren arrived at UW as an outside linebacker, flipped to tight end and caught just one pass in his four-year career.
“We wish him luck,” Paopao said. “He wanted to get back a little bit more on the defensive side of the ball, so we’ll help him in any way that we can.”
The injury list grows
The following players missed practice Monday with an injury: wide receivers Aaron Fuller, Ty Jones and Quinten Pounds, linebacker D.J. Beavers, defensive tackle Jacob Bandes and outside linebacker Myles Rice. Limited in practice were center Nick Harris, linebacker Miki Ah You, defensive tackle Sama Paama, cornerback Dom Hampton, safety Julis Irvin and outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui.
It was nice to see Pounds — who tore his ACL for the third time in mid-October — jogging and catching passes Monday, even if he was doing it at only half-speed.
— Sean McGrew, Chico McClatcher, Salvon Ahmed, Andre Baccellia, Myles Bryant and Trey Lowe all caught punts Monday.
— Sophomore placekicker Peyton Henry connected on his only two short field-goal attempts on the day.
— Washington spent roughly the first half of practice Monday in the Dempsey Indoor before going outside and enduring a light rain on the east practice field.