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Washington Spring Game Recap: Huskies Win!

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Morris Leads Purple to 22-13 Win over Gold

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: APR 09 Washington Spring Practice Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Any intra-squad scrimmage comes to a sort of zero sum conclusion. Although the Huskies won by nine on Saturday, the Huskies also lost by nine. How you interpret the relative success or failure probably has a lot to do with your optimism about the team or a specific player or position group going into the game.

With that said, Saturday’s Spring Game was a fun event, as much marketing as it was football. Dylan Morris’s steady hand for the Purple team was enough to hold off more explosive plays by Sam Huard and Patrick O’Brien’s Gold team. Purple won 22-13 in an entertaining event, but there were plenty of individuals who stood out.

Elijah Jackson made the first big play of the game. Patrick O’Brien tried a deep corner route and Jackson read the pass. He undercut the route and got the ball back for the Purple team.

Dylan Morris took over after Jackson forced the turnover. The defenses looked further along than the offense on most snaps, but Morris maintained his composure and moved the ball downfield. He finished the drive with a pass under pressure to Cade Otton on the goalline. Otton hauled in the ball with one hand. The play might not have held up on review, but fortunately, the Huskies didn’t hold up the scrimmage with interminable replays.

Sam Huard came in for the Gold team late in the first quarter. He managed the game well. He showed the ability to work through progressions and leave the pocket when necessary. He didn’t take many big chances, but found Devin Culp on a corner route between the corners and safeties in the zone. The drive stagnated and ended with a FG to bring the Gold team within 7-3.

Morris led another deliberate drive. Once again, there were no explosive plays, but Morris found ways to move the chains. The only hiccup was a fumble by Rome Odunze, but Odunze fell on it. The Purple team got another FG to stretch the lead back to 10-3.

Camden Sirmon (the gloriously numbered #20 QB) came in for a few snaps and the difference was noticeable. He quickly threw into traffic and got himself into trouble. To his credit, he made a nice third down conversion pass to the outside. Patrick O’Brien reentered to try his hand at a two-minute drill. He nearly threw another pick to Brendan Radley-Hiles before the drive petered out and the game went to half at 10-3.

The Gold team finally found some offensive momentum on its first drive of the second half. Sean McGrew broke off his first good run of the day. O’Brien converted a 4th and 7 on a button-hook to Taj Davis. Jackson Sirmon made three nice plays to force a 4th and 12, but O’Brien hit Culp up the seam on 4th and 12 to convert again. Richard Newton took the next step 15 yards into the end zone by stepping out of three tackles. The score tied the game at 10.

Triston Brown set a world record by becoming the first punter I’ve ever seen with a bare-midriff jersey. He used the aero-dynamism to pin the Gold team inside its own five. Two downs later, Corey Luciano caused a safety with a loft-wedge snap that would’ve made Phil Mickelson proud.

The next drive was likely the most complete one of the game by the Purple team. Rome Odunze made his second toe-tapping sideline grab of the game to move the sticks. Jayveon Sunday maximized his minutes by pumping his legs for extra yardage in a way that could churn butter. Facing third and long, Morris found Kamari Pleasant over the middle to get the ball to the five. Pleasant fought his way into the end zone on the next play to push the lead to 19-10.

Huard flashed his promise on the next drive. He lofted a ball down the sideline for Terrell Bynum that drew a PI flag. He threw another deep ball to Bynum on the opposite sideline that would have been a TD if Bynum could’ve snuck his toe inside the pylon. The drive ended in a FG to pull Gold within 19-13.

The game went back-and-forth with the Purple team preserving its lead and trying to maintain positive field position. The Gold team got the ball deep in its own territory with about three minutes to go and Huard under center. Newton converted third and short with a run up the middle and Huard notched another first down with a pass to Davis. The promising drive collapsed near midfield when Huard fumbled while trying to scramble. Miki Ah You recovered the ball and returned it to the Gold 15 to essentially seal the game for the Purple.

In the end, the biggest difference in the game was QB execution. Huard showed his insane talent on deep passes to Bynum, but he also made the mistake that functionally ended the game. Morris looked confident, made decisions quickly, and largely kept his team out of trouble. It was a noteworthy step forward for Morris, who was more decisive and assertive than he was during his shortened freshman season at QB. There’s a long way to go, and Spring Game performance does not guarantee regular season performance, but Morris was the more assured leader of the offense on this day.

Other Notes:

  • The Huskies know they need more production from the interior defensive line. It was a pleasant development to see a slimmer Jacob Bandes and a gargantuan Tuli Letuigasenoa getting some push up front.

  • Elijah Jackson had the early INT in the secondary and got in the middle of a handful of other plays. Julius Irvin also flashed in the secondary after a pair of years wrecked by injury.

  • Bralen Trice’s name came up frequently during spring practices and his play in this game augmented that reputation. He often got pressure on the QB, sealed the edge, and got off blocks. With no Laiatu Latu or ZTF in the fall, a healthy and productive Trice would be a tremendous addition to the defense.

  • We likely won’t say their names much once the season gets here, but let’s give some credit to the walk-ons who made nice plays today. Nick Juran caught a handful of passes. Kasen Kinchen made a couple plays in the secondary.

  • I have been as hard on the Pac-12 Network as anyone, but I want to give them credit for a fun presentation in this Spring Game.

  • Thanks to Gabey Lucas for the live tweets from the @UWonSBN account.