Under ideal circumstances we’d be about 2 weeks out from fall camp. Pac-12 Football Media Days would be this week. A highly anticipated season-opening home game against Michigan would be waiting just on the horizon.
Alas, the Michigan game as well as the rest of the non-conference slate is now out the window. There’s a chance we see more if not the entire season follow, whether it’s postponed to the spring or outright canceled.
No matter what happens in the coming weeks and months we’re still going to be getting you ready for the season whatever shape it may take. That means starting with a recap of each position group and where things stand as we hit the end of summer. Normally we’d have spring practices under our belt to give us a better idea of the depth chart but that just adds to the intrigue.
Jacob Eason started all 13 games last season and he put up solid but not spectacular numbers before getting drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. He finished with 3,132 passing yards with 23 TDs and 8 INTs. Eason also completed 64.2% of his passes for a total of 7.7 yards per attempt. Those marks generally put him in the middle of the conference.
If you’re counting from the end of fall camp last year instead from the end of last season you can also throw in Jake Haener who transferred the week before the season started to Fresno State and will hope to win the starting job there this fall.
At 6’3 and 193 lbs Ethan Garbers joined the team in the Spring with the hopes of joining practices immediately. Those didn’t materialize but he’s had as much exposure to the new offensive coordinator and playbook as anyone. Ethan, the younger brother of Cal starting QB Chase, had one of the most prolific seasons in California high school history last year putting up 5,034 passing yards with 71 passing TDs against just 5 INTs for an undefeated team. The passing touchdown total was 3rd in California history behind only Jake Browning’s last two years. Go Dawgs.
Kevin Thomson is the most recent addition to the quarterbacks room after transferring last month from Sacramento State. He is on his 7th season of eligibility after redshirting then losing 1.5 years due to injury. Thomson was fully healthy last year though and won Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year throwing for 3,216 yards and 27 TDs with 8 INTs plus an extra 619 rushing yards and 12 TDs on the ground.
Jacob Sirmon won the backup job last season essentially by default after Haener transferred out just before the season started. That meant the local 4-star QB lost all of his 1st team reps opportunities and only appeared in garbage time mostly to hand the ball off. There are no reasonable takeaways based on what we saw from him on the field last year. However, Sirmon at 6’5 and 235 lbs has all the arm talent necessary to make any throw required of him, similar to Jacob Eason last season. The question is whether Sirmon has improved enough in the mental aspects of the game after struggles in high school with accuracy. He has spent the last several months working out with Ford Sports Performance and a lineup of pros and college players so we’ll see it it has helped.
Dylan Morris redshirted last season but there were definitely some observers who thought he looked better than Sirmon in limited practice reps a year ago. If the natural comparison for Sirmon is Jacob Eason then the natural comparison for Morris is Jake Browning. At 6’0, 193 lbs Morris is undersized but seemingly has the intangibles necessary for success at the position.
Position Battle to Watch:
Jacob Sirmon vs. Kevin Thomson
I listed the two favorites to take over at the position but that’s not to discount Dylan Morris or Ethan Garbers who both have a legitimate shot to win the job. However it’s clear that the returner who was highest on the depth chart last year and the graduate transfer will be, in most circumstances, the first guys given the chance to take control of the situation when the underclassmen weren’t dramatically better prospects in high school.
There are so many unknowns that it really is impossible for anyone who isn’t a member of the coaching staff to have a surefire idea of how it will play out. For starters, Washington has a new offensive coordinator and a new head coach. Our own Coach_B took a look at the history of John Donovan offenses but given that Donovan hasn’t been in control of a successful offense in more than half a decade it’s tough to tell exactly what type of player he wants to win the job.
Still, Jimmy Lake wouldn’t bring in a 4th QB in June if he didn’t think it was going to help the team. He clearly made a run at transfer K.J Costello during the spring before Costello ultimately chose Mississippi State. The appeal of another option isn’t hard to see.
Washington’s quarterbacks room had a combined 0 starts at the college football level and that’s still true at the FBS level even after Thomson’s addition. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time UW had this few FBS starts at the quarterback position on the roster. That season Washington’s QBs completed 40.1% of passes with 8 TDs and 24 INTs in a 1-10 season. That stat line is an abomination and far below the floor for this year’s team but it highlights the concerns.
Thomson provides some stability and raises the floor of this team. If Sirmon hasn’t developed in the past year or if Morris and Garbers can’t pick up the playbook fast enough then Thomson gives Washington a veteran option who is capable of picking up the chains with his feet even if he isn’t quite on their level as a thrower. If anyone can learn a new system quickly you would think it’s a guy who not only is the only QB on the roster able to legally buy beer but who has been able to do so longer than any other member of the depth chart has even been in college.
If, however, there’s a tie then we may see Sirmon named the victor. Thomson is only here for one more season no matter what. Sirmon winning the job likely prevents anyone from transferring until the end of the spring next year (provided a somewhat normal schedule). It also allows the staff to have a veteran backup who can step in if Sirmon struggles but who won’t upset the chemistry and will stick around if he doesn’t win the job. Maybe Morris transfers in a world where he’s #3 in the pecking order. But Sirmon being named the starter gives the QB room the best chance of staying intact until the 2021 recruiting class arrives.
Don’t expect that information to be anything more than a tiebreaker however. Jimmy Lake and John Donovan need to see their pick at QB succeed immediately this season to try to close out the 2021 recruiting class. 5-star Sam Huard is set to arrive on the horizon. Even if Sirmon wins the job there’s a chance that Huard or Garbers surpasses him next season and he transfers anyways. The coaches will put the player that gives them the best chance to win on the field come the season opener whenever that ends up being. I’m giving Thomson the slight edge given his experience and mobility but at this point it’s anyone’s guess.
Projected Depth Chart
1a. Kevin Thomson
1b. Jacob Sirmon
3. Dylan Morris
4. Ethan Garbers
Who takes the first snap at quarterback the next time the Huskies play?
This poll is closed