How often does your favorite team welcome the best QB prospect in the country to campus? Unless you’re Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, or Oklahoma, the answer is probably, “never.” As such, it’s no surprise that we (and most other Husky fans) are a little irrationally exuberant about Sam Huard joining the Dawgs. In this week’s roundtable, we discuss some Huard-hued hypotheticals.
Question: Do you think the offense changes at all with Huard vs. Morris at QB this year? Huard definitely has a bigger arm and seems more accurate on deep throws. JonDon had a very conservative system for Morris that slowly rolled out more looks. I could see an argument either way- is Huard more polished and can handle more responsibility right away, or is Morris inherently better equipped to manage the full playbook with an extra year under his belt?
Jeff Gorman: Honestly I don’t think Huard starts. Unless he just blows everyone away in camp and Morris shows no improvement. That said I do think the offense changes with Huard in there.
...in like 1-2 years
Kirk DeGrasse: I’m with you, at least to start the season. I think the adjustment to playing under center, learning a very different type of offense and just getting used to the big jump from high school to college football will be enough to keep Huard from winning the job right away. But I also expect he’s got the potential to close that gap quickly and push Morris for the job later in the season. And we probably aren’t giving O’Brien enough credit - he should be a serious candidate too.
Jeff: I just don’t think we’re the type of program to replace our starter who by all accounts has an excellent mentality and is hard working. Unless his play on the field really goes down I can’t see Huard starting.
Maybe next season after a year in the system Huard starts blowing people away and he wins a camp competition. We’re not gonna do the Kelly Bryant Clemson thing. Granted Huard is probably not as college ready as Trevor Lawrence was.
Gabey Lucas: Also Morris, I think, is quite a bit better than Bryant. But yah, I think what’s most likely is Morris starts this year and then Huard after a year in the system kicks off and takes the spot.
Kirk: I think Huard has the potential to be a guy that leapfrogs an entrenched starter. Morris showed a lot of positives last season and I’m a big fan of his, but he also needs to show a lot better with this deep balls and just better accuracy in general. And those are two areas where Huard shines. I can definitely envision a scenario where Morris is playing reasonably well, similar to last year, but shows the same limitations that hold back the full potential of the offense, and Huard improves enough in practice that the coaches feel compelled to give him a shot.
I would love for Morris & O’Brien to be good enough that the coaching staff feels good about redshirting Huard.
Gabey: I think one thing is for sure and that’s that if Huard wins the job, he’ll have really earned it and that’ll mean we can expect he looks filthy good.
Kirk: Yep. And to be fair, it’s been a long, long time since a younger QB beat out a returning starter here. I have to go all the way back to 1985 when Chris Chandler ended up taking over for Hugh Millen midway through the season.
Andrew Berg: We don’t get the best HS QB in the country entering the program very often, either.
Kirk: True. He does have a steep learning curve though. Going from an Air Raid to a much more pro-style approach and learning to play from under center - add that on top of the normal adjustment when moving from high school to Power-5 CFB and I think some fans are going a little crazy with their expectations that he wins the job immediately.
A factor that can’t be discounted is that, right now, top WR recruits are in a “wait and see” (at best) mindset when looking at this offense. It would really, really help things if the Husky O looked more explosive in 2021 and really allowed the wide receivers to shine.
Aaron Sieverkropp: Related question- if Huard wins the starting job. Do you move Kirkland to RT?
Gabey: Usually I’d say probably not just cuz of the mirrored movements can genuinely be a brainfuck, but with him having started out at RG, I don’t think that’s out of the question at all.
I think it comes down more to if Curne could swap as effectively too. Cuz even if Kirkland can be a seamless transition, if Curne were to struggle it would probably at best be a net neutral that turns into a net negative when you consider the human/time/energy resource that has to go into that transition
Andrew: It’s not a direct answer, but I have long thought that this issue is an unexplored loophole. There’s so much focus on LTs because they protect the righty QB’s blindside, but the lefty QB obviously has the opposite blindside. In the NFL, guys get paid WAY more to be great LTs than RTs. If you get a really good lefty QB, isn’t that just free salary cap space? You can sign the best RT available for way less than you’d pay for the best LT, and not have to worry about shelling out top dollar for a LT who isn’t a blindside blocker.
Obviously, none of that matters if the lefty QB isn’t up to par, and Tua is now the first one since... Michael Vick (?) who was a no doubt NFL starter. If Huard maxes out his potential, that would definitely be worth monitoring.
Allegedly, Tua’s dad taught him to throw lefty even though he’s a natural righty. It was pretty nice of him to be thinking about the Dolphins’ cap space 25 years in advance.
Even if Huard follow’s Mark Brunell’s path to the NFL, UW will still be behind USC as lefty QBU. Matt Leinart, Todd Marinovich, and Paul McDonald all went to the NFL after playing at USC.
That’s my long way of saying that yes, I think we should try Kirkland at RT.
Coach B: I can confirm that Tua is a natural righty and that story checks out.
As to the original question, I’ve discussed this very in several threads in the past. In my opinion, the net value add flipping you OL personnel to match the QB’s throwing hand is typically negligible. Not only does it impact 2 positions (LT and RT) where the post-swap production might fall off for both, but there also isn’t that big of a difference between a blindside rush and a throw side rush.
The defense will typically attack the weaker edge match up regardless of QB handedness, so they might end up flipping their rush side to match any OL flip we do. Not to mention that consistent pressure in a QBs face is similar in impact to the occasional blindside rush that gets to the QB.
In Kirkland’s particular case, if he can make it work at LT, that is in his own best interest for the NFL for the reasons Andrew laid out. I’m pretty confident that he could make RT work, but as was mentioned before, it still would depend on if Curne or someone else at LT ends up being a net value add to Huard’s hypothetical protection.
Gabey: Yeah, I think when you look at the amount of resource input to potential output, it’s probably not worth it