University of Washington

3 things to watch at UW Huskies’ Spring Preview

Jacob Eason talks after spring practice

Washington's Jacob Eason talks after spring practice about sitting out last season and this year's quarterback competition.
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Washington's Jacob Eason talks after spring practice about sitting out last season and this year's quarterback competition.

Washington’s spring will come to a close on Saturday with the Spring Preview at Husky Stadium. The event begins at noon.

It will be the first opportunity for fans to get a look at the 2019 Huskies and while there are plenty of intriguing storylines, here are three things to focus on:

Quarterback situation

To say Husky fans are excited to see quarterback Jacob Eason play would be an understatement. On Saturday, they’ll get their chance. As for Eason, he’s not paying much attention to all the hype.

“I had that same thing going on when I was committed to Georgia,” he said. “So, you look at it, you see it, whatever. But I just focus on my own game. You’ve got to block out the outside noise. That’s what coach (Chris) Petersen says. And just focus on what you can do to get better each and every day.”

On Wednesday, Eason completed one of his best open practices of the spring. He completed all nine of his passes during team periods including a 60-yard bomb that hit Andre Baccellia in stride down the sideline and resulted in a touchdown.

While many have already anointed him UW’s new quarterback, Eason is staying focused on winning that starting job. Eason and Jake Haener, who played in four games last season, have split first-team reps throughout spring practice.

On Saturday, fans can watch the two with their own eyes.

“Last year obviously was different because I wasn’t able to play,” Eason said of the spring game. “This year, there’s a little bit more meaning because I have the opportunity to play and just get reps with our offense rather than our scout team. That’s the main thing.

“Just building more relationships with the offensive guys and some of the older guys, that’s a little different. Just small things.”

Secondary rotation

The Huskies lost both starting cornerbacks and both starting safeties from last season. That’s led to what Myles Bryant has called the most competitive room he’s been around in his four years at UW.

With all those starting spots up for grabs, defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said it’s a “feeding frenzy.” He’s been shifting players around all spring, not only to find the right fit for each position but also to put back-up plans in place.

“We’ve been doing this for years,” Lake said earlier this month. “Guys play multiple positions, especially in the backend. Injuries happen all the time and we’ve been devastated by injuries. … Guys like Myles, guys like Elijah Molden that are very, very smart, very athletic, can play different positions.

“We’ll always sprinkle those guys in there to make sure they learn those positions so then when we get to Week 4 and we’re playing a big-time Pac-12 game, we’ll just insert them right in and away we go.”

Saturday will provide a glimpse at the players who could fill the open roles come fall.

One of the most intriguing players to keep an eye on is early enrollee freshman safety Cameron Williams, who has been impressing both Lake and head coach Chris Petersen all spring. On Wednesday, Williams worked with the first-team defense alongside Bryant.

Young wide receivers

Aaron Fuller and Quinten Pounds have missed all of spring practice and Ty Jones has been out for most it with a cast on his arm. That has left room for some of UW’s less experienced wide receivers to pick up reps in spring practice.

Redshirt sophomore Terrell Bynum has made the most of that opportunity and has been a standout performer. His best play came earlier this month during a team period when he made a leaping catch over redshirt freshman Kyler Gordon to haul in a deep pass from Eason. He’ll have more opportunities to show his potential on Saturday.

Another player to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Marquis Spiker, who also had a solid spring. The Huskies need a player who can stretch the field and Spiker has shown flashes of that ability.

There’s also Andre Baccellia, a senior who started last season. While UW followers are plenty familiar with him, Baccellia is intriguing for another reason: His best performances of 2018 came in the final three games of the season.

“The last kind of half of the season, those last four or five games, they felt really good,” Baccellia said. “I don’t know what it was, whether it was schematically or the way roles kind of shifted and changed. I don’t know, but things started falling in place more for our offense and it felt good.”

Lauren Kirschman is the UW Huskies beat writer for The News Tribune. She previously covered the Pittsburgh Steelers for A Pennsylvania native and a University of Pittsburgh graduate, she also covered college athletics for the Beaver County Times from 2012-2016.