Sam Huard is a work in progress.
There was a lot of progress on Friday morning.
At the second practice of UW preseason camp, Huard, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound redshirt freshman and former five-star recruit, took most of the early reps, as UW continues dividing the snapshots of the first team between its three competitors. quarterbacks (Junior Michael Penix Jr. was the main starter on Thursday, while sophomore Dylan Morris also featured sporadically on Friday).
Huard made the most egregious mistake of the day, staring at a wide receiver while burly Nickelback Dominique Hampton dropped into coverage and caught an easy interception.
Huard did not hesitate to correct that mistake.
One play later, the left-hander took a shotgun drop and dropped a rainbow along the left sideline for a picturesque 56-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jalen McMillan, who had gotten past cornerback Mishael Powell. Huard added two more majestic touchdowns, serving up a floater that wide receiver Rome Odunze got past cornerback Jordan Perryman to corner another 56-yard touchdown, before exposing a secondary that bit hard in the action game to position wide receiver Jabez Tinae for a 70 yard catch and run.
All told, it was perhaps Huard’s most complete practice performance since coming to the UW, and a necessary outburst to keep him in the hunt alongside Penix and Morris. UW coach Kalen DeBoer said Thursday that all three quarterbacks will receive equal reps through at least the team’s first practice game on Aug. 13.
Ultimately, the quarterback who best minimizes errors could start on Sept. 3 against Kent State. Huard certainly didn’t let one of those mistakes spoil his chance with the first team on Friday morning.
Good performances from ZTF and Fabiculanan
Junior edge Zion Tupuola-Fetui shone Friday, recording a sack on Penix as he cleanly outpointed starting right tackle Roger Rosengarten on a separate play.
While Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin again took most of the first-team reps on the rim, ZTF also took a few snaps with the starters in place of Trice. Through April and August, it seemed like forward-thinking coach Eric Schmidt thinks Trice and Martin would be the would-be starters, though both DeBoer and defensive co-coordinator Chuck Morrell mentioned Trice, Martin and Tupuola-Fetui as standout playmakers in that season. position. It seems like the staff generally considers Martin a consistent, physical run-blocker and ZTF an elite pass-rusher, while Trice might present the more well-rounded combination of the two.
Regardless of who starts, expect those three to play a lot in September, with sophomore Sav’ell Smalls and redshirt freshman Maurice Heims battling it out for the remaining reps.
As for the nickel “husky” hybrid spot, Hampton remains the assumed starter, but Kamren Fabiculanan also impressed on Friday. The sophomore from Camarillo, Calif. jumped an exit route to intercept Penix and then added a sack and jump breakup against tight end Quentin Moore.
The 6-1, 191-pound husky has repeatedly displayed significant skills on the ball. He will have to show that he can stop the race to close the gap on Hampton.
- Redshirt freshman cornerback Davon Banks caught an interception for the second straight practice, securing an easy pick after freshman wide receiver Denzel Boston went down in a one-on-one drill. After surprising the coaching staff with his game last spring, it will be interesting to see if Banks can push Powell or Perryman for a starting corner job this fall.
- Virginia transfer running back Wayne Taulapapa was the main starter for the second straight practice, while Will Nixon and Cameron Davis worked with the second team.
- Graduated transfer linebacker Cam Bright picked up a sack in a blitz on Friday, while linebacker Kris Moll and cornerback Elijah Jackson also shared a sack.
- UW is testing a combination of safety tandems, with Asa Turner, Cameron Williams and Alex Cook rotating with the starters on Friday. Julius Irvin and Vince Nunley also worked with the second team. Cook made the play of the day from that position, coming through a screen to fly a screen pass to tight end Devin Culp … before flexing Culp’s face for good measure.
- Junior defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa worked his way into the backfield to corner Taulapapa for a losing tackle, earning a celebratory push from defensive co-coordinator William Inge.
- Redshirt freshman running back Sam Adams II made a memorable play Friday, receiving a pass from Huard for a long gain after linebacker Carson Bruener attempted a diving interception but completely missed the ball.
- Penix wasn’t as ready on Friday as he was the day before, but the Indiana transfer fell on a perfect pass to Culp for a significant gain in a 7-on-7 drill.
- First-year tight end Ryan Otton sat out Friday’s practice due to a possible injury.