One by one in fall camp, Richard Newton, Dylan Morris and Jimmy Lake sat down with the media and expressed their optimism for the coming University of Washington football season.
Each highlighted these sessions with memorable quotes amid all of the hope and promise that, unfortunately for them, didn't materialize.
In fact, when the season ended Newton, a sophomore running back, was on crutches after having knee surgery; Morris was a spectator for the Apple Cup, with the redshirt freshman having given way as the quarterback starter; and Lake was no longer the Husky coach, having been fired.
We break down their memorable but forgettable quotes, as well as offer these statements in the attached video montage.
'Want to be the hammer, not the nail'
After a highly productive 2019 season and inexplicable falloff a year later, Newton looked extra buff and rightly motivated entering this past season. He spoke about putting in extra weight work to make it hard for anyone to tackle him once the games began.
The 6-foot, 215-pound sophomore punctuated his interview session with the memorable line, "I want to be the hammer, not the nail."
Newton started the first three games, got banged up as his offensive line failed to give him much running room, and returned for a single play against UCLA, only to tear knee ligaments after making a 9-yard catch.
He finished as the Huskies' fifth-leading rusher with season totals of 138 yards on 39 carries and a lone touchdown run, which under ordinary circumstances could have been a good day's work for Newton.
Unfortunately for him, Newton became the nail.
'Not going to go all reckless cowboy out there'
Morris, after winning a four-player competition in 2020 to become the Husky quarterback starter, was credited by Lake as a mistake-free player. He made far less miscues in practice than Ethan Garbers, Jacob Sirmon and Kevin Thomson. He appeared to back that up by leading the UW to three victories in four outings while throwing just 3 interceptions among 110 passes.
Describing himself before the season began, Morris said, "Game manager, protecting the football, that's all I can do. I'm not going to go all reckless cowboy out there and throw the ball around."
Unfortunately for the second-year quarterback starter, those were famous last words. He threw a dozen interceptions in 11 games. The worst turnover came against Arizona State in the final minute of a 35-30 loss when Morris didn't see linebacker Merlin Robertson lurking in the flat and was intercepted, with Robertson returning the pick 37 yards for what would be a deciding touchdown.
He wasn't the Midnight Cowboy, Urban Cowboy or Drugstore Cowboy.
Unlucky for him, reckless cowboy best described his spate of miscues.
'There was unfinished business'
Over and over in spring practice and fall camp, Lake repeated the same mantra: His Huskies had unfinished business. He said this because his team played just four games in 2020 and qualified but failed to play in the Pac-12 championship game because of a COVID-19 outbreak among his offensive linemen. He referenced this once more while explaining why tight end Cade Otton and offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland had returned for another season rather than enter the NFL draft.
"First with Cade, and then Jaxson, of course they could have went on, could have heard their names called in the last three days in the NFL draft. I know they felt there was unfinished business from what happened this last year. They know we had a budding team that was ready to break out."
However, Lake was prophetic in ways he never could have envisioned. He was suspended for a player shoving incident in the ninth game of the season against Oregon and fired a week later. Just like that, he was gone, leaving everyone behind to deal with things on their own.
Yes, the coach left behind a lot of unfinished business.
Go to si.com/college/washington to read the latest Husky Maven stories as soon as they’re published. Not all stories are posted on the fan sites.
Find Husky Maven on Facebook by searching: Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated
Follow Dan Raley of Husky Maven on Twitter: @DanRaley1 and @HuskyMaven