Sam Huard is a work in progress.
There was a lot of progress on Friday morning.
In UW’s second practice of preseason camp, Huard — a 6-foot-2, 193-pound redshirt freshman and former five-star rookie — took the bulk of the starting reps, as UW continues to divide first-team snaps among its three quarterback competitors. (Junior Michael Penix Jr. was the first starter on Thursday, while second Dylan Morris also took sporadic starter snaps on Friday.)
Huard made the most glaring mistake of the day, laying down a wide receiver as husky nickelback Dominique Hampton dropped into coverage and had an easy interception.
Huard did not hesitate to correct this error.
A play later, the southpaw took a shotgun blast and dropped a rainbow down the left sideline for a scenic 56-yard touchdown to wide receiver Jalen McMillan – who had passed the cornerback Mishael Powell. Huard added two more stately touchdowns, serving up a floater that wide receiver Rome Odunze outscored corner Jordan Perryman to corral for another 56 yards, before exposing a somewhat difficult secondary on the play to locate wide Jabez Tinae for a 70 yard catch and run.
All in all, it was perhaps Huard’s most comprehensive practice performance since joining UW — and a blast needed to keep him in the hunt alongside Penix and Morris. UW coach Kalen DeBoer said Thursday that all three quarterbacks will receive at least even reps in the team’s first scrimmage on Aug. 13.
Ultimately, the quarterback who best minimizes mistakes could start Sept. 3 against Kent State. Huard certainly didn’t let such a mistake undermine his first-team opportunity on Friday morning.
Good results for ZTF and Fabiculanan
Junior Zion advantage Tupuola-Fetui flashed on Friday, recording a sack from Penix while driving past starting right tackle Roger Rosengarten on a split play.
While Bralen Trice and Jeremiah Martin once again took most of the first-team reps to the edge, ZTF also took a few shots with the starters in place of Trice. In April and August, it emerged that edge coach Eric Schmidt thought Trice and Martin were the supposed starters – although DeBoer and co-defensive coordinator Chuck Morrell dropped Trice, Martin and Tupuola-Fetui as prominent playmakers in this position. It seems the staff generally view Martin as a physical, consistent stopper and ZTF as an elite passer, while Trice might feature the more complete combination of the two.
Regardless of who starts, expect these three to play a lot in September – with second Sav’ell Smalls and redshirted rookie Maurice Heims vying for remaining reps.
When it comes to the “husky” hybrid nickelback spot, Hampton continues to be the supposed starter – but Kamren Fabiculanan also impressed on Friday. The second player from Camarillo, Calif., jumped a route to intercept Penix and then added a sack and a bounding pass breakup against tight end Quentin Moore.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound husky has repeatedly demonstrated significant ball skills. He will have to show that he can stop the race to close the gap with Hampton.
- Redshirt freshman cornerback Davon Banks had an interception for the second straight practice, securing an easy pick after freshman receiver Denzel Boston fell in a one-on-one drill. After surprising the coaching staff with his play last spring, it will be interesting to see if Banks can push Powell or Perryman for a starting spot at the corner this fall.
- Virginia transfer running back Wayne Taulapapa was the main starter for a second straight practice, while Will Nixon and Cameron Davis worked with the second team.
- Graduate transfer linebacker Cam Bright picked up a sack during a Friday blitz, while linebacker Kris Moll and cornerback Elijah Jackson also shared a sack.
- UW is trying a combination of safety tandems – with Asa Turner, Cameron Williams and Alex Cook rotating as starters on Friday. Julius Irvin and Vince Nunley also worked with the second team. Cook made the play of the day from that position, muscled through a block to blast a screen pass to tight end Devin Culp…before flexing Culp’s face for good measure.
- Junior defensive lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa made his way into the backfield to corral Taulapapa for a tackle for loss, earning a celebratory push from co-defensive coordinator William Inge.
- Redshirt freshman running back Sam Adams II made a memorable play Friday, taking a swing pass from Huard for a long gain after linebacker Carson Bruener attempted a diving interception but completely missed the ball instead.
- Penix wasn’t as sharp on Friday as the day before, but Indiana’s transfer fell in a perfect pass to Culp for a significant gain in a 7-on-7 drill.
- First-year tight end Ryan Otton missed practice Friday with a possible injury.