Washington Huskies

UW Huskies spring practice: Defense shines again on Day 9

UW Huskies senior Josiah Bronson (face, center) and fellow defensive linemen square off during drills on the opening day of spring football practice at the University of Washington in Seatle on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
UW Huskies senior Josiah Bronson (face, center) and fellow defensive linemen square off during drills on the opening day of spring football practice at the University of Washington in Seatle on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. toverman@theolympian.com

Washington worked inside Husky Stadium on Wednesday as it completed its ninth practice of the spring.

On a day heavy with team periods, it was the Huskies’ defense impressed the most. Here’s what you need to know.

Quarterback rotation

As has been the case for most of spring practice, quarterbacks Jake Haener and Jacob Eason split the reps with the first-team offense. It appears that Haener and Eason are starting to get more of the snaps overall, but Petersen said he doesn’t pay much attention to the rotation.

“I trust all the coaches to get all these guys reps,” Petersen said after practice. “That’s why I like spring football so much because this is not about putting plays in for a game. This is strictly about building skill, getting these guys ready for the summer.

“Certainly guys earn more reps as you go over time, they really do. But it’s a fluid chart. On Saturday (during practice), it did not look the same as it did out there today. We’re always moving those positions around.”

Neither Haener nor Eason stood out much on Wednesday. Eason threw an interception on a Hail Mary pass toward the end of a 2-minute period. He launched the ball from midfield and it rotated awkwardly high in the air before landing in the hands of a waiting Isaiah Gilchrist.

Redshirt freshmen Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff both worked with the third-team offense. Sirmon made a nice pass to Jordan Chin during a team period, hitting him in stride for a 30-yard gain up the left sideline.

Defense dominates

The No. 1 offense didn’t score a touchdown until Haener led it on an 11-play, 45-yard drive during the final 11-on-11 period. Haener founded Salvon Ahmed with a 4-yard TD pass on fourth down.

On the same drive, Kamari Pleasant had a 10-yard and a 7-yard run. Haener also found Andre Baccellia for a 10-yard gain and completed two passes to redshirt freshman Marquis Spiker.

The Huskies’ offense only scored one other touchdown during a team period. Redshirt freshman running back Richard Newton, playing with the third-team offense, scored from 2 yards out.

The defense kept pressure on the quarterbacks. Benning Potoa’e and Myles Rice combined for two would-be sacks. Kyler Gordon broke up an Eason pass intended for Marquis Spiker while both Brandon Wellington and Brandon McKinney nearly picked off Haener.

Tight end Hunter Bryant was a reliable target for Haener. During one team period, Haener completed three passes to Bryant including one up the left sideline for a first down.

Touchdown, Trey Adams — almost

In one of the more amusing plays from the day, left tackle Trey Adams hauled in a Haener pass that was deflected by Brandon McKinney. Adams got the pick near midfield and then made a lighthearted run toward the end zone.

The play brought laughter and cheers from his teammates, and even earned a grin from Petersen after practice.

“I think he’s trying to get himself back in the mix for tackle eligible plays,” Petersen said. “You only get so many chances so you better capitalize on them. Looked like his hands were better.”

Young standouts

Petersen again praised early enrollee freshman Cameron Williams, saying he likes how the safety is progressing.

“I just like his mindset for a guy that should be in high school right now,” Petersen said. “That’s one thing that always kind of gets my attention is those guys that can show up with a focused mindset. There’s a lot of our players that have been here a couple years that can show up everyday with that urgency and that focused mindset.”

Petersen said redshirt freshman wide receiver Austin Osborne has shown a similar mindset to Williams. It’s difficult, Petersen said, to keep that focus during spring practice.

“It’s really hard to have that kind of next-level urgency to everything you do,” he said. “You can see it a mile away when somebody brings it and Austin’s done a really good job with that.”