Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now
Sports >  UW football

UW football observations: Did the Huskies’ backup QB situation just get interesting?

Aug. 20, 2021 Updated Fri., Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:48 p.m.

Patrick O’Brien  (Elaine Thompson)
Patrick O’Brien (Elaine Thompson)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

Did Sam Huard just become the University of Washington’s backup quarterback?

Maybe. Possibly. Time will tell.

During Friday’s practice – UW’s 13th of fall camp – sixth-year quarterback Patrick O’Brien did not participate with a brace on his right hand, prompting the true freshman Huard to take the entirety of the second-team reps. True freshman walk-on Camden Sirmon, meanwhile, was subsequently bumped up to the No. 3 role.

While the severity of O’Brien’s injury is currently unclear, and it’s certainly possible his lack of participation is wholly precautionary, the Huskies would obviously prefer not to enter the 2021 season with two total scholarship quarterbacks.

On the other hand, there’s good news as well: Washington’s starting quarterback looks more comfortable than ever.

Redshirt freshman and second-year starter Dylan Morris put up another productive performance on Friday, throwing a pair of touchdown passes without a turnover. His first score was a 12-yard dart over the middle to reliable tight end Cade Otton.

But things only got more impressive from there.

Late in the practice – which was shorter than usual, as UW prepares to hold an open scrimmage on Saturday – head coach Jimmy Lake set up another special situation. He gave the starting offense the ball at its own 41-yard line with 1:43 left in the second quarter, tasking it to score before going into the (imaginary) break.

After overthrowing tight end Jack Westover on first-and-10, Morris completed a pass over the middle to wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk for a 12-yard gain to move the sticks. On the next play, he dropped a feathery looper into a tight window over the middle to second-year freshman wideout Rome Odunze for 32 more yards.

On first down from the 15-yard line, Morris completed the trifecta, hitting wide receiver Taj Davis with a laser in the corner of the end zone for a scintillating score.

This marked another positive practice for Morris, who seems to have played his best football in the past week or so. And while his chemistry with Otton and wide receiver Terrell Bynum is already established, Odunze – who also recorded a lunging 14-yard grab – seems to be emerging more and more.

Speaking of Bynum, the junior wide receiver appeared to receive a day off during scrimmage drills – holding his helmet while watching proceedings from the sidelines. And after injuring his right hand on Monday, second-year freshman wide receiver Jalen McMillan was not present for a second consecutive practice. In their places, wide receivers Odunze, Polk, Davis and Giles Jackson all worked with the starters.

Extra points

• Sophomore safety Asa Turner and second-year freshman wide receiver Sawyer Racanelli, both of whom were not present for five consecutive practices, returned to the field and participated fully on Friday. Impressive freshman defensive lineman Kuao Peihopa also worked in a limited role after missing the last two public practicies with an apparent right foot injury. Inside linebackers Daniel Heimuli and Alphonzo Tuputala, cornerback Elijah Jackson, offensive lineman Samuel Peacock and outside linebacker Milton Hopkins Jr. continue to watch from the sideline.

• Redshirt freshman Julius Buelow again worked as UW’s starting left guard on Friday, while Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale – who started at that position in all four games last season – continues to be situated with the second team at right guard. It looks more and more like the 6-foot-8, 330-pound Buelow is solidifying a starting spot.

• Oklahoma transfer nickelback Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles exploded into the backfield for a pair of blitz sacks on Friday. Don’t be surprised if UW uses “Bookie” in that role repeatedly come Sept. 4.

• Sophomores Cameron Williams and Julius Irvin operated as UW’s starting safeties on Friday, and both may be inching towards solidifying those spots. Dominique Hampton, Alex Cook and Asa Turner are still in the mix, but it seems like Williams and Irvin have received the most first-team reps in the last week or so. Irvin also played some cornerback with the third-team defense on Friday, while nickelback Kamren Fabiculanan occasionally slid back to safety. When starting cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon were given a drive off, Jacobe Covington and Mishael Powell stepped into those spots.

• Running backs Cameron Davis, Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew returned kicks on Friday, while wide receiver Giles Jackson and cornerback Trent McDuffie returned punts.

• UW kicker Tim Horn converted his only field goal attempt on Friday, a 45-yarder.

• UW will host its fan fest and scrimmage on Saturday. The fan fest opens at 10:30 a.m., with the Dawg Walk at 11 a.m. and the scrimmage lasting from 1-3 p.m.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.