Picking up 96 days after the 2022 spring preview, Washington football kicked off its first official fall season under head coach Kalen DeBoer last Thursday.
In the four days since then, practices have flown like any other UW preseason in recent memory: three quarterbacks all taking reps, short scrimmages, and small player updates throughout the week.
DeBoer noted that one of the biggest adjustments this week was the switch to consistent practices. After a three-month break, fall practices have pivoted players to a full six-day week.
“We haven’t had back to back practices ever,” DeBoer said. “Because this spring we went every other day, so playing back to back was the first challenge.”
Nothing revolutionary happened during week 1 — which is to be expected with a very uncertain quarterback situation and players getting into the swing of things off a break — but the first four practices were nonetheless littered with standout plays.
If the coaches were looking for a quick and easy conclusion to the quarterback conundrum, the first week of practice may have only made the outlook murkier for the staff. Redshirt freshman Sam Huard showed flashes of his potential, most notably commanding the offense on Friday with long touchdown passes to sophomore Jalen McMillan and redshirt freshman Jabez Tinae.
Sophomore Dylan Morris looked to one-up Huard on Saturday, and did just that with long touchdown passes to junior Devin Culp, junior Jack Westover, and freshman Denzel Boston.
Keeping consistent with DeBoer’s pledge to split reps equally among the three quarterbacks to begin fall camp, each signal-caller got their chance to shine in week one.
But if the first several practices made one thing clear, it’s that the quarterback battle very much remains a three-man battle, with Michael Penix Jr., as well as Huard and Morris, yet to separate themselves from the pack.
Penix Jr. has embraced the competition, but knows what it will take to ultimately take the first snap for Washington on Sept. 3.
“I just have to be consistent,” Penix Jr. said. “Every day come out here and be a leader. Show these guys the way and work with the younger guys as well. We have a lot of young guys who can play, just making sure that we’re doing extra in the film room and stuff like that, that’s what it’s going to take to be successful.”
Penix Jr., Morris, and Huard worked together over the summer, and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb has already seen it pay dividends for each quarterback.
“They got more reps in the offense with PRP’s and understanding that flow of the game and what our expectations are, so I think their eyes and their overall grasp of the offense definitely increased over the summer,” Grubb said.
But in terms of naming the starter once and for all, Grubb didn’t give an inch on when the decision will be made.
“You’ve gotta have [a decision] during game week,” Grubb said. “Ideally it would be done a week before that, but we don’t put any hard task lines on it.”
Important notes from week 1
The only start of season injury announcement of the week came Thursday, with DeBoer announcing that junior linebacker Edefaun Ulofoshio would miss “half or more of the season”,
Sixth-year left tackle Jaxson Kirkland, who has been in and out for months with a right ankle injury, missed the second half of Saturday’s practice, but returned Sunday morning.
“If he’s a little bit sore in an area, we’re going to make sure we take precaution,” DeBoer said about Kirkland on Sunday.
Grubb got his first look at spring transfer running backs graduate Wayne Taulapapa and redshirt freshman Will Nixon, continuing the evaluation of a crowded running backs group.
The Huskies will have an off-day on Monday, before returning to practice every day from Tuesday-Sunday.
Reach Sports Editor Sydney Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @sydneym_nash.
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