The Sam Huard Era has not arrived at Husky Stadium.
But fans were treated to a sneak peek on Saturday.
Leading 42-3 in the fourth quarter of Washington’s 52-3 win over Arkansas State, Husky head coach Jimmy Lake ended starting quarterback Dylan Morris’ day early and called for Huard’s UW debut. Huard — the third in his family to line up under center for UW, following father Damon and uncle Brock — was greeted with a warm ovation from the fans scattered inside a water-logged Husky Stadium.
A five-star freshman from Kennedy Catholic High School, Huard has apparently beaten out sixth-year senior Patrick O’Brien for the backup quarterback role. He completed 2 of 5 passes for 31 yards — the highlight being a 23-yard strike up the seam to wide receiver Giles Jackson. His 10-play, 72-yard drive ended with a 38-yard Peyton Henry field goal.
It was far from perfect.
But it was certainly a start.
“It was so big-time. I’m glad we got him out there, got him some throws, got him some handoffs,” Lake said of Huard, the state’s all-time leading high-school passer. “He’s going to be better the next time he gets to go out there, just because of that experience. He had some positive results, had some completions. The last one (an incompletion in the end zone intended for fellow freshman wide receiver Jabez Tinae) I knew he wanted back right away.
“The cool thing was, he knew where he was supposed to go with the football, and he didn’t. He came right to the sideline and said, ‘Coach, I should have went here!’ I said, ‘Yep, you should have.’ It was just cool that he already knew before even watching the film. It’s so exciting watching a young player go out there and make a few plays. He’s going to make mistakes. That’s part of the growing process, and he’s just going to continue to get better.”
Donovan’s new view
After operating from the sideline during his first six games as UW’s offensive coordinator, John Donovan moved to the booth atop Husky Stadium on Saturday.
Of course, the results were encouraging, with Washington putting up 598 total yards and 52 points.
And, for any fans theorizing Donovan may have been stripped of play-calling duties, Lake said Saturday that wasn’t the case.
“(Donovan’s move) didn’t change the play-calling,” he said. “Initially, last year in 2020, one of the reasons he was down (on the sideline) was, he didn’t know our players. He didn’t know how our players were going to react during a bad play or a good play. I get that, having been a coordinator. You want to get the feel for these guys. Do they have shock on their face after a play, or are they OK? Can they handle this? So I think that was initially, early on, the reason why we had him down on the field.
“But I do think it is a more calm atmosphere, and in a lot of ways it’s easier to call it from the booth. You can see it better. I think you saw that tonight.”
A few surprise starters
UW unveiled a few surprise defensive starters on Saturday, as defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele got the nod over Tuli Letuligasenoa and inside linebacker Daniel Heimuli started alongside Jackson Sirmon — ahead of Edefuan Ulofoshio.
Of course, considering Ulofoshio led UW with 13 tackles and a tackle for loss in last weekend’s 31-10 loss at Michigan, it would be illogical to replace the Huskies’ most productive defensive player.
But Lake insisted there’s more to the story.
“Guys are dealing with little nicks here and there. Eddy’s still our starter,” Lake said. “But thankfully we do have some players that we feel really comfortable going in there and making some plays. Daniel (Heimuli) is one of them. Also, MJ Tafisi. Carson Bruener showed up big-time in training camp, so it was awesome to watch him get out there and make some plays and fly around a little bit. But Eddy will be fine.”
Heimuli and Ulofoshio each contributed one tackle. Second-year freshman Carson Bruener impressed with increased reps, registering eight tackles and a forced fumble.
- While starting placekicker Peyton Henry converted a 38-yard field goal and four extra points on Saturday, sophomore Tim Horn made three extra points of his own. Lake said it was their plan to work Horn into the rotation and he may attempt a field goal at some point this season as well.
- While they couldn’t play against Arkansas State, injured wide receivers Ja’Lynn Polk and Rome Odunze were seen on the sideline. Polk is out for the regular season with a chest injury, while Odunze — a starter throughout the offseason — is considered week-to-week.