UW football enjoying ‘honeymoon period’ as spring ball begins | Football


UW football enjoying ‘honeymoon period’ as spring ball begins (DeBoer)

Washington football first-year head coach Kalen DeBoer addresses the media during a press conference on March 28 at Husky Stadium. DeBoer described the current state of the Huskies’ staff-player relationship as the ‘honeymoon period.’

Monday afternoon, Kalen DeBoer wasn’t about to look into the past.

Meeting with the media Monday for only his fourth time as head coach of the Washington football team, DeBoer and assistant coaches Ryan Grubb and Chuck Morrell were all about the future.

Instead of tying up loose ends from former head coach Jimmy Lake’s disastrous exit last season, DeBoer and his staff focused on what lies ahead: spring ball, which begins Wednesday, March 30 at 8:30 a.m.

“We’re really starting to get into where it’s us, this is us, this is who we are, this is our team,” DeBoer said. “The positive thing [about] grinding through, we haven’t faced any adversity yet, we haven’t played a football game, so we’ve talked to our guys a lot about that. Right now there’s still a honeymoon period that we’re going through together. We’re really enjoying being around each other, we haven’t been thrown to the fire yet.”

The Huskies have spent much of the past three months in the weight room working with new strength and conditioning coach Ron McKeefery, but now it’s time for DeBoer, offensive coordinator Grubb, and co-defensive coordinator Morrell to be the stars of the honeymoon period.

During the next five weeks the pads will come on and the Huskies will get their first chance to run through some of DeBoer’s playbook. 

DeBoer spoke to the benefits of stretching the spring schedule out over the course of five weeks, practicing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so the team can review film and lift weights during the days in between.

By the time May rolls around and spring ball ends, DeBoer thinks the honeymoon period will come to an end.

“We get into spring ball now, actually the excitement now is at another level, now they can do what they really love, and that’s play football,” DeBoer said. “But all of a sudden, with that comes, toward the end of spring, ‘Where am I at on the depth chart?’… it starts to show itself a little bit. Those are the things where the relationships continue and for the coaching staff to prove ourselves to these guys, and continue to invest in them.”

OC Grubb wants to stretch the field

UW football enjoying ‘honeymoon period’ as spring ball begins (Grubb)

Washington football offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb addresses the media during a spring football press conference on March 28 at Husky Stadium.

It’s no secret that next year’s Washington offense will look a lot different than the past two seasons. Unlike Lake’s “run the damn ball” mindset, Grubb and DeBoer want to stretch the field, utilizing the quarterback and playmakers on the outside.

“One of the things that our offense does, just by concept, is we stretch the field,” Grubb said. “We’re hoping it alleviates some of the pressure those guys had up front, and maybe utilize some of the weapons on the outside a little bit more.”

Asked who stood out in his analysis of last year’s film, Grubb mentioned sophomores Jalen McMillan and Rome Odunze and redshirt freshman Ja’Lynn Polk that fit his scheme as wide receivers.

Grubb also serves as quarterbacks coach, and three arms will be in competition for the starting job: junior transfer Michael Penix, Jr., sophomore Dylan Morris, and redshirt freshman Sam Huard.

Although Penix Jr. previously played under DeBoer at Indiana in 2019, Grubb says that the knowledge gap concerning the offensive scheme has quickly been closed by Morris and Huard during the past few months.

“[Penix, Jr., Morris, and Huard] will all see equal reps, identical reps between the ones and twos for the first four practices,” Grubb said. “There will be no difference between those three guys.”

UW is also awaiting word from the NCAA on offensive lineman Jaxson Kirkland’s waiver for an additional year of eligibility. Kirkland, a two-time First Team All-Pac-12 left tackle, originally declared for the NFL Draft following last season, but received ankle surgery and pulled his name from the draft a month later.

Defense looking to attack

Along with drastic offensive changes, the UW defense will also look quite different with Morrell calling plays.

Under Lake, the Huskies prided themselves on preventing the big play, frequently putting six defensive backs on the field at the same time.

UW football enjoying ‘honeymoon period’ as spring ball begins (Morell)

Washington football co-defensive coordinator Chuck Morrell addresses the media during a spring football press conference on March 28 at Husky Stadium.

With Morrell and co-defensive coordinator William Inge at the helm, a primary difference will be the implementation of the “Husky” position, a hybrid of linebacker and safety.

“Structurally we are doing some things that are a little bit different,” Morrell said. “We’ll be very different in being a pressure-oriented defense, really being in attack mode. The great thing is we’ve got some great pieces with some experience coming back, especially in the back half, the safety position where we can count on some guys to get us into some different positions.”

Injury announcements:

  • Junior linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio will be out of spring ball and will miss at least “some games.”

  • Three running backs will be out for spring ball: Junior Richard Newton, sophomore Cameron Davis, and redshirt freshman Emeka Megwa.

  • Redshirt freshman running back Sam Adams II and redshirt freshman wide receiver Jabez Tinae will be limited in spring practice.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Edwards at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @edwardsanthonyb

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