After 4 Practices, a Husky Quarterback Competition Update

Morris looks comfortable as the Huskies' returning starter, undeterred by the new faces.

A week into University of Washington spring practice, all non-contact drills for the most part, sophomore Dylan Morris still throws the most accurate football among the leading quarterback candidates.

He's by far the most confident of these players, too, leading everyone in his position group on a sprint from the back practice field into Husky Stadium for long-range passing drills.

Morris is not above stepping in either after a play and showing much publicized freshman Sam Huard a better way to do it.

He seems largely unbothered by all of the hype surrounding his new teammate, the 5-star recruit from Kennedy Catholic High School, who brings considerable Husky quarterback pedigree and a big-league arm into the mix.

"He's not worried about it; he's worried about himself," UW offensive coordinator John Donovan said of the veteran player. "That's just his mindset. He's good at that."

On Monday, the 6-foot Morris lobbed ball after ball from 40 to 45 yards and uncannily hit his receivers in stride every time. 

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-1 Huard was often short with his deliveries in this particular drill, while the third quarterback, grad transfer Patrick O'Brien, was a little better than the young kid but still not as accurate as Morris.

It's Morris, O'Brien and Huard, in that order, through four practices.

Morris was the decided underdog in the Husky quarterback competition a year ago when spring practice was canceled and everything carried over into the fall, but he's the leader now. 

He previously had to bypass Jacob Sirmon, who was the returning back-up, and hold off grad transfer Kevin Thomson and true freshman Ethan Garbers to win the job last November, and start every outing during the ensuing four-game season.

Everyone left him after that.

Sirmon currently is trying to win the starting quarterback job at Central Michigan, playing at a level better suited for him; Thomson is looking for work as a pro quarterback, a journeyman always seeking another snap; and Garbers is at UCLA after becoming homesick for California.

This time, it's Morris' job to lose. 

"He's still got things to work on like everyone else," said Donovan, who offered an analogy to the veteran quarterback's approach. "You're running a race and you're at the line. You're against yourself. You're not worried about who's next to you. That's what he's doing. He's running his own race right now."

That said, Huard has not been a disappointment.

He's just been a little overwhelmed, as if facing a continuous all-out blitz by going from high school ball to college. Yet his skills are readily apparent. His throwing motion is unmistakably high level.

"He's pretty good," Donovan said.

The UW offensive coordinator compared Huard's situation to that of asking someone to learn how to speak Spanish fluently in a week's time.

"He's learning a whole new language," Donovan said

O'Brien, who came to the Huskies from Colorado State and Nebraska, is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, similar in size to Sirmon and before that to Jacob Eason. 

He's entering his sixth season of college football, a senior several times over who brings 12 starts with him from his Mountain West team. He lost a head-to-head match-up to Fresno State and former UW QB Jake Haener last season. He came up with a 405-yard passing night against Toledo in 2019.

"I could tell he's been around," Donovan said.

O'Brien basically is an insurance policy in case Morris and Huard run into difficulty or injury. 

The UW offensive guru said it's far too soon to call it a quarterback competition yet because everyone behind Morris, who's entering his third season in the program, still needs to get acclimated. 

But he cautioned against any of them from getting too comfortable when things heat up. By choosing Morris last season, the Huskies demonstrated that anything can happen with their QB. 

"The second you think you've arrived, you're going to get lapped, " Donovan said. "Over time we'll see who pushes who." 

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