Huskies will Embrace Saturday Night Lights for Third Scrimmage

Coach Jimmy Lake will send his University of Washington football team through an evening game-like workout to get his players acclimated to the real thing.
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Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

A coin toss comes first.

Halftime provides a break.

Referees will run the show.

There just won't be you or I — the media or the fans — watching it all unfold. 

Coach Jimmy Lake will hold his third of four game-like scrimmages for the University of Washington football team on Saturday night at Husky Stadium leading up to the season opener at California in two weeks. 

"We want to see who will perform under the lights and who maybe the lights are a little too bright," Lake said on Friday. "It will be good to find that out now as opposed to Nov. 7."

Lake's fourth and final scrimmage on Oct. 31 will begin at 9 a.m. because the Pac-12 has arranged for conference games to be played at that early morning hour when the league starts up. 

No firm kickoff time has been assigned to the UW-Cal game in Berkeley yet.

"I always try to create the game," Lake said. "I think it helps our players perform better on game day. It's exactly like a game. When we get to the real game, they've done it before, been there before."

Meantime, the Huskies haven't narrowed the quarterback competition at all from returning backup and sophomore Jacob Sirmon, redshirt freshman Dylan Morris, true freshman Ethan Garbers and or senior transfer Kevin Thomson. Lake hopes to know by the end of next week's fourth scrimmage who his starter will be. 

"All have had their shining moments and all have had their what-the-heck moments?" the coach said. 

While purposely vague in describing player progress so as not to reveal any insider information for opponent consumption, Lake was effusive in his praise when asked about true freshman outside linebacker Sav'ell Smalls and sophomore wide receiver Puka Nacua.

It has been a ripe possibility all along that the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Smalls will play right away for the Huskies. Starting is not out of the question either, with the Huskies seeking a replacement on the outside for Joe Tryon. Smalls is considered the showcase player of the latest recruiting class. 

"He's coming along very nicely," Lake said. "He's created a lot of havoc in the backfield. Also played the run well. He's picked up the schemes very, very quickly. He's a smart young man. Loves football. Definitely there's technique stuff that has to get better, and it will get better."

Nacua returns from a broken ankle that limited him to just eight games played, three starts and two touchdown catches. He's been an elite since joining the Huskies.

"He's a guy who brings so much energy and fire to our team," the Husky coach said. "I think he has some of the best hands in the wide receiver room. He catches everything."

Lake also said the Huskies have given a scholarship to senior Race Porter, who has held on kicks for 31 games, punted 22 times for 44.5 yards per kick and even rushed once.  

"This guy is a competitor," the coach said. 

Earlier, the coaching staff rewarded scholarships to a pair of walk-ons in sophomore inside linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio and sophomore tight end Jack Westover.

Lake said this year's group of walk-ons have proven to be a talented group and some of them could be scholarship recipients at some point, as well.

"I see a few guys, if they keep going, anything can happen," the coach said.

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