Dylan Morris is Washington’s starting quarterback.
After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the Huskies’ quarterback competition, Morris — a 6-foot, 200-pound redshirt freshman from Puyallup — took the opening snap in UW’s amended season opener against Oregon State on Saturday. He beat out graduate student Kevin Thomson, redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon and true freshman Ethan Garbers for the role.
In four seasons as Graham-Kapowsin High School’s varsity signal caller, Morris compiled a 40-7 record while throwing for 9,815 yards and 99 touchdowns. He was named the Huskies’ Offensive Scout Squad MVP last season.
“I had some extensive time with him when he was our scout team quarterback last year,” UW coach Jimmy Lake said of Morris last week. “So (he’s) very, very smart. You don’t have to tell him twice. It’s like, ‘Hey, we need to see this,’ and then he does it. His whole time when he was redshirting he was on. Whatever we asked him to do, you didn’t have to tell him twice.
“And now he’s accurate with the football. He’s got quick feet. He can move around in the pocket. He can extend plays, and again, extremely smart. That’s what I see with Dylan. He’s got some really good leadership qualities. We’re excited about him, just like we are with the other three.”
It’s also worth mentioning that Thomson — a Sacramento State transfer and 2019 Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year — was on the sidelines in street clothes Saturday, which could indicate some kind of injury. When asked Thursday if the Huskies were at full strength from a health standpoint, Lake simply said: “Good to go.”
On Monday, Thomson tweeted, “Never expected football to take me on this journey, but I’m thankful for the relationships developed along the way and look forward to facing the challenges that this game and year continue to present #OneLastRide”.
Laiatu Latu injury?
Sophomore outside linebacker Laiatu Latu, who was expected to fill departed pass-rusher Joe Tryon’s void in UW’s defense, stood in street clothes during Saturday’s game with a presumed injury. True freshman running back Sam Adams II was in street clothes as well. Lake declined to comment on injuries throughout the entirety of fall camp.
Without Latu, outside linebackers Ryan Bowman, Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Sav’ell Smalls and Bralen Trice could all be counted on to provide a consistent pass rush.
The way it was meant to be?
After the Cal game was canceled, Lake wasted little time in tweeting, “Let’s get the 2020 Season Started in Husky Stadium! The way it was meant to be! The Dawgs are more than ready! #BowDownToWashington”.
Of course, that could (correctly) be construed as an unyieldingly optimistic football coach making the best of a bad situation.
The way it was meant to be? Four separate season openers was never anyone’s preference.
But maybe, in this case, Lake also has a point.
After all, there’s some uncanny precedent for this particular opponent. The last time UW opened its season against Oregon State was Nov. 23, 1918, when a global pandemic — this time, the Spanish flu — forced a delayed start to the season. The Huskies earned a 6-0 home win in Seattle.
Oh, and Lake’s first game as a full-time football coach — when he oversaw the secondary at Eastern Washington, his alma mater, in 2000 — also came against Oregon State. And the Beavers’ quarterback at the time was Jonathan Smith, who will be the head coach on the opposite sideline on Saturday.
UW played a Pac-12 football game inside an empty stadium on Saturday.
And all the piped-in crowd noise in the world couldn’t make it sound — or look, or feel — like normal.
“We’ve gone through it four times now with our preseason games that we’ve had,” Lake said. “The atmosphere is going to be with some music in TV timeouts, that sort of thing, then the crowd noise, all the things the Pac-12 is allowing us to do. Anything pregame I’m not really sure of because there’s nobody there. We’re basically entertaining the officials and the TV crew. But during the game for sure, there will be some music. There will be some crowd noise. And the normal sounds you would hear after scores by the University of Washington at least, that’s what you’ll hear.
“We’ve been through this as a team here. Obviously we cannot replace our amazing fans. But it is what it is in 2020 and we’ll have to deal with it, with the atmosphere that we’re setting up.”
Oregon State COVID-19 concerns
Oregon State announced Saturday evening that redshirt junior defensive back David Morris, redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Sebastian Briski, redshirt junior inside linebacker Kyrei Fisher and freshman inside linebacker Junior Walling were unavailable for Saturday night’s game — presumably because of either a positive COVID-19 test or contact tracing.
Of that group, only Morris — who was listed as a co-starter at safety on the Beavers’ depth chart — was expected to make significant contributions on Saturday. He made one tackle in last weekend’s 38-28 loss to Washington State.