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30-Day Countdown: Day 21 - Under Pressure

Which Huskies are feeling the heat in an abbreviated 2020?

California v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

We are exactly 3 weeks away from the start of Washington Huskies football! But we’re not 0 weeks away which means the 30-day countdown must continue.

Today we’re examining which players/coaches are feeling the most pressure during this upcoming season. From an eligibility standpoint this season essentially doesn’t count but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people around the Husky program who don’t have a lot to prove over the next several months.

QB Jacob Sirmon

We don’t yet know who will win the quarterback job but I’d argue that none of the 4 competitors has more riding on it that Jacob Sirmon. Kevin Thomson is a grad transfer which means this is his one chance at UW but his alternative was missing the season entirely at Sacramento State so it’s all upside. Dylan Morris and Ethan Garbers are both still freshmen and winning the job over multiple older players would again largely be considered gravy.

For Sirmon, this is his best shot. He almost transferred after his true freshman season when behind Jake Haener on the depth chart and with Jacob Eason entering the program. But Haener transferred and Eason left early to go pro which has opened the door for Sirmon. However, the door doesn’t stay open for long. If Thomson wins the job then theoretically with the eligibility rules changed he could come back for a ridiculous 8th season and start again next year. There’s also 5-star incoming freshman Sam Huard who gets added to the mix if Thomson wins the job but is one and done.

If one of the younger guys win the job over Sirmon with Huard also coming in it seems just about impossible that he’ll ever reassert himself at the top of the depth chart again unless through a series of transfers and injuries. If Sirmon wants to be the starting QB for his local school for at least one season even if it’s half the length of a normal one then he’s got to take advantage of this opportunity.

Cornerback Elijah Molden

Once the Pac-12 suggested that football wasn’t going to happen until 2021 at the earliest, it seemed a lock that Levi Onwuzurike, Joe Tryon, and Elijah Molden wouldn’t be sticking around. All three had serious draft buzz in the first 50 picks and the risk of injury that close to the Draft didn’t seem worth it. As you all know, Tryon and Onwuzurike decided the upside still wasn’t there and opted out but Molden decided to come back. With a fantastic abbreviated season he has the chance to play his way into being a 1st round pick. If he were to get hurt or just not play at quite the same level as last year then his gamble could see him slide down draft boards.

The pressure on Molden may not quite be there from the Husky fanbase. But you can bet that he’s putting a mountain-sized amount of pressure on himself to see this team succeed in his final go-round when he could very easily have been just going through individual workouts right about now with a nice advance bonus from an agent in his pocket.

Offensive Coordinator John Donovan

We still haven’t even had a single practice watched by the media to get a better sense for how the Donovan offense is going to function. And yet there’s still a sizable portion of the Husky fanbase who is ready to pounce all over him the first time the team has a 3 and out. It didn’t help that Donovan was about as unsexy a hire as you can have. Someone whose most recent stop was as the running backs coach for an NFL team that had a poor offense and struggled to run the ball with a former top-5 overall pick. And on top of all of that he was fired from his last college OC job and the guy who succeeded him had immediate success, was also available this offseason, and ended up at Oregon.

That’s a lot. And of course there’s also the matter of 5-star 2021 prospect Emeka Egbuka who will be deciding between UW, Ohio State, and Oklahoma. Even an abbreviated season where the Husky offense hums like clockwork would do nothing but help in a recruiting race in which the Huskies need to make up a lot of ground to come out on top. Put it all together and it definitely doesn’t feel like this is a mulligan for Donovan in 2020.

Head Coach Jimmy Lake

Given everything I said about the pressure that Donovan is under, how much pressure do you feel if you’re the guy whose first major decision was hiring Donovan in the first place? The Husky football program is seemingly at an inflection point after a slight down year in 2019 leading directly into a coaching change. If the Dawgs win the North even in a shortened season then it’s going to look like last year was primarily about Petersen’s lack of internal drive and that Lake has things going in the same direction they were before. If we see a 4-3 season then questions will abound about whether Lake is capable of carrying the program to the heights that Petersen did.

This is the most talented roster in terms of overall stars that the Huskies have had in years if not decades and it will say a lot about Lake’s long-term prospects if he can (or can’t) get the team to play like it.


Who is under the most pressure in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    QB Jacob Sirmon
    (216 votes)
  • 0%
    CB Elijah Molden
    (6 votes)
  • 41%
    OC John Donovan
    (298 votes)
  • 27%
    HC Jimmy Lake
    (193 votes)
713 votes total Vote Now