Sam Huard is Washington’s starting quarterback.
At least, that was the case Friday, when Huard — a 6-foot-2, 190-pound freshman — made his first career start in the Apple Cup against Washington State.
But it was a tough introduction for the Husky legacy. In his first career start, Huard took his licks, throwing four interceptions and completing 17 of 31 attempts for 190 yards. He did complete his first touchdown pass, finding Rome Odunze for an impressive 16-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“The guy’s crushed not to win, but he’s not crushed in terms of spirit and quarterback play and all that,” UW interim head coach Bob Gregory said of Huard following the 40-13 defeat. “He’s going to be a really good player for UW.”
The former Kennedy Catholic High School standout made previous cameos in the games against Arkansas State, Arizona and Arizona State — completing 5 of 11 passes for 51 yards. He appeared in just four games, sitting out last weekend’s road loss at Colorado, in order to preserve redshirt status.
While starting the first 11 games this season, redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris struggled — completing 60.6% of his passes while throwing for 2,458 yards with 17 total touchdowns and 12 interceptions (the most in the Pac-12).
Gregory said Morris handled the situation “good. He is a true competitor. I couldn’t be more proud of Dylan. He was (Huard’s) biggest fan and biggest cheerleader all week.”
But why hasn’t Huard played more, redshirt aside?
Gregory — UW’s defensive coordinator for the first eight games this season — didn’t have an answer.
“To be honest, I don’t know what the plan was early on,” Gregory said Monday. “Again, we have four games for these kids (to maintain their redshirts), and you kind of have to sift through that and make sure that you don’t burn a kid’s year for five games, and do right by that. I assume if he thought he was going to play earlier, he would have played more, but I wasn’t on that side (of the ball).”
The outward desire to witness the beginning of another Huard Era at UW is certainly understandable. Sam — the son of former Husky quarterback Damon Huard and nephew of UW QB alum Brock Huard — set a state record at Kennedy Catholic for career passing yards (13,214), while adding 153 touchdowns as well. He was ranked by the 247Sports Composite as a five-star recruit, the No. 3 quarterback in the country and the No. 12 overall prospect in the 2021 class.
On Friday, Washington’s most prolific prep passer made his UW starting debut in the state’s most prestigious rivalry game. While it didn’t go as hoped for Huard and the Huskies, a new era started Friday inside a rain-soaked Husky Stadium.
After sustaining an injury in the Arizona State game and sitting out UW’s loss at Colorado, junior tight end Cade Otton appeared on a scooter Friday, with his left leg in a heavy cast. The 6-5, 250-pound tight end’s season — and perhaps his Husky career — is over.
In other injury news, sixth-year senior running back Sean McGrew returned to action after missing the last two games with an injury. But outside linebacker Zion Tupuola-Fetui, running back Cameron Davis and wide receivers Terrell Bynum (who has missed three straight games) and Taj Davis were all unavailable.
Without typical starting outside linebackers Zion Tupuola-Fetui and Ryan Bowman, Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin made starts on Friday. Sixth-year senior Kamari Pleasant was announced as UW’s starting tailback. Redshirt freshman Troy Fautanu made his first at left guard, ahead of Ulumoo Ale, while second-year freshman wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk started alongside Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan as well.
- Mariners manager Scott Servais was UW’s special guest to sound the pregame siren.
- Gregory said UW’s players will get a break for about a week before beginning strength and conditioning workouts. When asked what the remaining coaching staff will do next week, he said, “Well, we’ll see what happens.”
- Freshman walk-on quarterback Camden Sirmon entered the game for one play and handed off Friday. But Gregory said the plan was to actually involve the 6-0, 200-pounder more than they did. “He’s been our scout team quarterback and has great speed,” Gregory said. “Again, we had a little bit more of a package for him, actually. We wanted to give him a little bit more than we did. It just did not work out. We had difficulty all year long trying to tackle that guy defensively when he was our scout team quarterback, and we wanted to do something that would give us a little bit more of a threat running-wise by a quarterback.”