Trent McDuffie is not to be trifled with.
On Saturday, McDuffie — UW’s standout sophomore cornerback — snared a pair of interceptions in the Huskies’ second fall practice. He jumped in front of tight end Jack Westover to pick off starting quarterback Dylan Morris, then repeated the feat later against Patrick O’Brien on the edge of the end zone. And if that wasn’t enough, the 5-foot-11 corner also batted a deep ball away from wide receiver Taj Davis to deny what otherwise would have been a spectacular one-handed grab.
Outside of McDuffie’s thoroughly unsurprising theatrics, a pair of Husky safeties got in on the act as well. Sophomore Julius Irvin picked up an essentially effortless interception when O’Brien threw a ball directly at him, while second-year freshman Makell Esteen produced a diving pick of quarterback Sam Huard on a ball that had been tipped high into the air.
But that doesn’t mean the UW offense didn’t also have success Saturday.
Here are a few observations from the Huskies’ second practice of fall camp.
Huard’s big day
While consistency remains an issue, freshman quarterback Sam Huard produced a flurry of impressive completions Saturday. The highlight was a 35-yard rainbow touchdown that dropped effortlessly into wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli’s arms over the tight coverage of nickelback Kamren Fabiculanan.
Huard also hit junior wideout Terrell Bynum for a 45-yard touchdown on a double move that shook second-year cornerback Elijah Jackson, a nearly identical score to the one Bynum recorded Friday. The 6-2 freshman cornerback capped the day by dropping a floater to Michigan transfer receiver Giles Jackson for a 30-yard gain, a positive development after Huard and Jackson repeatedly failed to connect throughout the day.
The former five-star quarterback from Kennedy Catholic also delivered a handful of errant passes, as well as the Esteen interception. As the Huskies’ No. 3 QB, the goal remains consistent accuracy, sound decision-making and daily progress. But Saturday, the positives outweighed the negatives.
Starting lineup tweaks
UW continued to cycle through starters at several noteworthy positions. Second-year freshman Sav’ell Smalls received the starting reps at outside linebacker opposite Ryan Bowman on Saturday, after Cooper McDonald earned the nod the day before. Smalls — who appears noticeably more trim than he did in the spring — picked up a sack of Huard on a broken play.
The starting safeties Saturday were Dominique Hampton and Alex Cook, after Cameron Williams and Julius Irvin earned those honors Friday. Kamren Fabiculanan, who continues to compete with Brendan Radley-Hiles for the starting nickelback spot, took the first-team reps as well.
Though Tuli Letuligasenoa and Sam “Taki” Taimani are established starters on the defensive line, Jacob Bandes also worked with the starters when UW employed an extra lineman, after Faatui Tuitele filled that role Saturday.
UW’s primary starting wide receivers continue to be Bynum, Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, with Giles Jackson receiving some work as well. Tailbacks Cameron Davis and Richard Newton took first-team reps for the second consecutive day.
- Cornerbacks Davon Banks and Dyson McCutcheon and linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala all sat out Saturday’s practice with presumed injuries.
- Morris’ most impressive throw of the day might have been one that wasn’t caught. Late in scrimmage drills, the 200-pound quarterback uncorked a deep ball for wide receiver Odunze that traveled 60 yards in the air. While it was an accurate pass, Odunze struggled to locate the ball in the air and it dropped for an interception.
- Though Davis and Newton continue to take the first-team tailback reps, second-year freshmen Sam Adams II and Jay’Veon Sunday both impressed in a backup role Saturday. Adams, who barely participated in the spring, looked bouncy and comfortable both taking hand-offs and in the screen game. The 195-pound Sunday darted around the left edge in a scrimmage drill for a 26-yard gain that probably should have been ruled a touchdown as well.
- Besides his interception of O’Brien, Irvin delivered a physical breakup of a short pass intended for Odunze. The 185-pound sophomore has turned in a nice two days as he vies for a starting safety role.
- After throwing the aforementioned interception to Irvin, O’Brien responded with a 30-yard touchdown to Odunze on a dart across the middle.
- True freshman cornerback Zakhari Spears has flashed at times in his first two college practices. The lanky 6-1, 195-pound athlete broke up a pass intended for Racanelli in the end zone, then nearly picked up an interception. Considering the depth in UW’s defensive backs room, Spears is almost certainly ticketed for a redshirt season. But physically, at least, the Keith Taylor comparisons are undeniable.
- Texas A&M transfer wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk picked up a touchdown catch with the second-team offense.
- UW’s punt returners Saturday were wide receivers Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan and corner Trent McDuffie.
- The Huskies’ kickers had a tough day, as Peyton Henry went 1-2 on field goals and Tim Horn was 0-2.