It’s experimentation season.
Which means, for the UW coaching staff, opportunity abounds to tinker with lineups and prospective position changes. We saw that at multiple spots in the Huskies’ ninth practice of fall camp.
The most potentially impactful change came on the starting offensive line, where redshirt freshmen Nate Kalepo and Julius Buelow each received reps in place of established starter Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale. Ale, in turn, worked entirely at the right guard spot with the second unit.
Of course, it’s possible that offensive line coach Scott Huff and Co. want to cross-train Ale at both guard positions in case the 355-pound sophomore ever needs to flip to the opposite side. But Kalepo (6-6, 330) and Buelow (6-8, 330) both continue to contend for starting roles, and this might be a position to monitor moving forward.
UW defensive backs coach Will Harris also is tinkering with his lineups, giving sophomore safety Julius Irvin sporadic corner reps Sunday while also occasionally sliding nickelback Kamren Fabiculanan to free safety. Both Irvin and Fabiculanan remain in heated position competitions — “Kam Fab” with Brendan Radley-Hiles at nickel, Irvin primarily with Dominique Hampton, Alex Cook and Cameron Williams at safety. We’ll see where each player eventually lands.
Keep an eye on second-year freshman cornerback Jacobe Covington. With Elijah Jackson continuing to miss time with an apparent injury, the 6-2, 195-pound Covington is taking starting reps in sub-packages and nabbed a pair of sacks off blitzes Sunday. Harris spoke highly of Covington’s development after practice and added that the lanky defensive back clocked a 4.51-second 40-yard dash last spring as well.
Of course, Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon are entrenched as the primary starters at cornerback. But Covington and Jackson both seem to be developing into intriguing options in the future.
Morris’ deep ball
Heading into his second season as the Huskies’ starter, much has been made of redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris’ deep ball accuracy. The 6-0, 200-pound passer impressed in that department Sunday, lofting a picturesque 35-yard touchdown to wide receiver Rome Odunze in a 7-on-7 drill and later dropping a 43-yard dime in Odunze’s direction that Fabiculanan managed to bat away (through no fault of the quarterback).
The Morris-Odunze connection also paid dividends in a later scrimmage drill, when the third-year QB stepped up in the pocket and delivered a laser to his 6-3 wide receiver on fourth-and-8 for a 21-yard gain.
- Though consistency continues to be an issue, freshman quarterback Sam Huard made several beautiful passes Sunday — most notably floating a 35-yard touchdown over defensive back Meki Pei’s tight coverage to tight end Quentin Moore in a 7-on-7 drill. Moore was back in action Sunday after being mostly limited during the first eight practices of fall camp. Huard also dropped a 20-yard rainbow down the left sideline to running back Kamari Pleasant, who made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch.
- There continues to be an emphasis on including UW’s running backs in the passing game. Outside of Pleasant’s aforementioned catch, second-year freshman Sam Adams II — who has shown surprising bounciness in August — took a screen pass from quarterback Patrick O’Brien for a long gain in a scrimmage drill.
- The UW defense claimed a pair of interceptions Sunday. Cornerback Mishael Powell was the beneficiary of a pass O’Brien underthrew toward intended target wide receiver Giles Jackson, while Fabiculanan also jumped to snatch an easy pick in the end zone from freshman quarterback Camden Sirmon.
- In UW’s daily “spotlight drill,” which pits a pass-catcher 1-on-1 against a defensive player for a single play — with 10 pushups assigned to the losing unit — safety Dominique Hampton forced an incompletion on a Sirmon pass to tight end Jack Westover along the sideline.
- Starting defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa and inside linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio both penetrated to nab an impressive tackle for loss against the starting offense, while freshman defensive lineman Voi Tunuufi sacked Morris to end another drive as well.
- Freshman running back Caleb Berry plunged up the middle for a six-yard touchdown with the fourth-team offense to end practice.
- NFL scouts from the Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles attended Sunday’s practice.
- Safety Asa Turner and wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli were not present for the third consecutive practice, while watching the proceedings from the sidelines were offensive lineman Samuel Peacock; cornerbacks Elijah Jackson, Dyson McCutcheon and Davon Banks; outside linebacker Jordan Lolohea; and inside linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala.
- After missing the past several practices with an apparent injury, safety Cameron Williams returned to work Sunday and took some reps with the starters.
- Kicker Peyton Henry converted 2 of 3 field goal tries Sunday, while Tim Horn went 1-2.