Huskies confident they’ll be ready when Pac-12 season begins

SEATTLE (AP) — Coach Jimmy Lake believes Washington will be ready when the Pac-12 season kicks off in early November, in part because most of the Huskies roster never left Seattle during the summer.

Lake spoke on Tuesday shortly after the Huskies wrapped up their second practice since their out-of-town players returned to campus and went through a seven-day quarantine.

Lake and his players are amped to get started, especially knowing the Pac-12 will attempt to play a seven-game season.

“It looks like we just won the lottery,” Lake said. “We are so excited around here that we have a season to look forward to and that we have something to prepare for. Our morale right now is through the roof.”

Lake estimated that about 70% of the players on the Huskies roster remained in Seattle after the Pac-12 initially announced it was postponing the start of its season until early next year. The only players Lake sent home were the true freshmen who were participating in the Huskies’ summer bridging program.

That meant that even though there wasn’t a season to get ready for, players still in Seattle were getting workouts. Now that the season is scheduled to begin the weekend of Nov. 6-7, preparations are underway even while the program tries to keep the coronavirus from derailing its plans.

“We have to insulate ourselves and create an own our own bubble here at the University of Washington football program,” Lake said. “And, like I said earlier, the team that does that the best in the Pac-12 is most likely gonna be holding up that (championship) trophy.”

The big focus for Washington will be the competition at quarterback. The Huskies were one of the few teams in the country that had no spring practices, so learning the system of new offensive coordinator John Donovan has been limited to winter meetings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual meetings.

Jacob Sirmon, Dylan Morris, Ethan Garbers and Kevin Thomson are the four candidates for the QB job. Thomson is the only one who has started a game, albeit with Sacramento State at the FCS level. Sirmon is the only one who has played in a game for Washington.

“As we get into training camp, it’s gonna be exciting competition. It’s gonna be exciting for our team to watch, for our coaching staff to watch and I know for you all to watch and our fans to watch,” Lake said. “You guys have quoted me before, I’m going to say it again, I’m an equal opportunity employer. Whoever shows that they can run our scheme, can lead our offense, make smart decisions and make plays is the one that’s going to be the starter.”

Lake also made clear that the defensive front will remain short-handed after Joe Tryon and Levi Onwuzurike both declared for the NFL draft and will not be returning even with the Pac-12 trying to play in the fall.

One player who was thought to be a potential early departure was defensive back Elijah Molden, but he opted to stick around for his senior season. Molden said he wouldn’t have been able to handle sitting out and watching, especially in Lake’s first season in charge.

“Coach Lake, I believe in him entirely,” Molden said. “It’s my last year here at UW and it’s his first and I kind of want to start him off on a good note.”

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