UW Coaches’ Job Was To Reveal QB Starter, Keep Others from Leaving

UW Coaches’ Job Was To Reveal QB Starter, Keep Others from Leaving

Kalen DeBoer and his University of Washington coaching staff revealed Michael Penix Jr. as their starting quarterback on Tuesday, but that was only half of their responsibility.

The other part was to try and do everything they could to talk up the abilities of Dylan Morris and Sam Huard — who didn’t get the job — and prevent them from considering the transfer portal.

Three years ago, the Huskies under Chris Petersen picked Jacob Eason as the No. 1 quarterback over Jake Haener, with the latter immediately bolting to Fresno State, where he would redshirt that year for coach Jeff Tedford, play two seasons for DeBoer as the Bulldogs starter and is now considered one of the nation’s best at his position.

“For me, this is not fun,” offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said of having tell the other two UW quarterbacks they didn’t get the job. “It’s way harder on them.”

On Monday, Grubb and DeBoer met separately with each of the quarterbacks to relay their decision to them. A day later, Morris was still one of the first players to arrive for practice, which has been his routine. Morris is the back-up to Penix, with Huard third on the depth chart. 

“Our advice to them was show up and keep throwing punches,” Grubb said. “The only mistake you can make is shutting it down.”

Throughout spring and fall practice, the left-handed Penix clearly separated himself from the others by showing great cool under pressure, the ability to scramble and a decent throwing arm coming at many angles.

Morris and Huard, who each started for the Huskies last fall, bring experience but didn’t have the best quarterback coaching during a 4-8 season, with previous offensive coordinator John Donovan getting fired for performance with three games left to play.

“Of all the guys who made the biggest jump in camp was Sam,” Grubb said, noting his improved handling of the offense. “Dylan is the guy everybody trusts, knows exactly what to do, move someone, changes the protection, and that’s where he’s just a little bit ahead of Sam. That’s a tight deal.”

DeBoer and Grubb both intimated they would be comfortable using any of their three Husky quarterbacks this season. However, Penix won the job outright and will be the starter on Sept. 3 against Kent State.

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As for Morris and Huard, if either one headed for the transfer portal after this it would be somewhat of a surprise.

A 6-foot-2, 193-pound redshirt freshman and another left-hander, Huard is the son and nephew of previous Husky quarterbacks Damon and Brock Huard. He has four seasons of eligibility remaining, which means his time will come. In speaking to him, young Huard seems to have bought into the new staff and their teachings.

As for Morris, the 6-foot, 197-pound sophomore has always talked about how he grew up as a Husky fan and wanted to be the UW quarterback since he was a kid. A two-season starter with three seasons of eligibility left, he’s more likely to use the competitor in him to try and win his job back rather than leave.

Of course, Haener, the son of a UW grad and a Bay Area TV anchorwoman, was equally devoted to the program from an early age and highly competitive, as well. Yet his pride wouldn’t permit him to stay in Seattle and back up Eason to begin the 2019 season. 

Had Haener stayed put, he would have been a sophomore that year who likely would have replaced Eason later in the season when the Georgia transfer began to struggle. 

If Haener hadn’t left — or had he transferred back when DeBoer got the job — he’d be a sixth-year quarterback for the Huskies now and most likely the starter. 

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