By Tim Booth | The Associated Press
SEATTLE — When Jimmy Lake finally checked his phone, he noticed the missed calls and who they were from.
Clearly something was wrong.
“It’s never good when you have a number of missed phone calls from [Washington athletic director] Jen Cohen,” Lake said.
The news she wanted to convey: what was supposed to be Lake’s debut at Washington was delayed when the Huskies’ season opener at California was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Golden Bears program.
So instead of opening on the road last week, Lake’s first game in charge of the Huskies will come Saturday night when Washington hosts Oregon State.
The cancellation only dragged out several questions surrounding the Huskies, most notably who will be the starting quarterback.
Lake remained as tight-lipped this week as he was in the days leading into the original opener against Cal, saying the decision will be known when the Huskies offense takes the field for the first time.
Graduate transfer Kevin Thomson is considered the favorite and was the only one of the four competing for the job to start a college game last year. Thomson was the Big Sky offensive player of the year last season at Sacramento State when he threw for 3,216 yards and 27 touchdowns and also ran for 12 TDs.
Lake has not ruled out playing multiple QBs, and redshirt freshman Dylan Morris could be next in line. Jacob Sirmon and Ethan Garbers are the other competitors.
The Beavers have been left to guess what the Huskies will look like under new offensive coordinator John Donovan.
“You know, it’s a little bit unique. They haven’t played. We have. And that’s some good, some bad, to be honest with you,” Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. “We played a game, we know some things we’ve got to clean up and work on. They’ve got a new offense over there that we don’t have tape of, and so there’s some uncertainty that comes with that. And so it’ll be a definite, definite challenge.”
Oregon State (0-1) has the advantage of already playing one game, although it was a disappointing debut as the Beavers fell 38-28 at home to Washington State. The Beavers fell behind 28-7 before rallying late.
On the upside for the Beavers was the performance of its offense once it woke up. Tristan Gebbia threw for 329 yards and Jermar Jefferson ran for 120. But the Beavers must be better defensively, especially against the run after giving up 229 yards rushing to Washington State.
UW running backs
No matter who ends up getting the start at quarterback for Washington, he should be buoyed by a stable of running backs to lean on. Senior Kamari Pleasant is listed as the starter, but the Huskies are likely to use a combination of backs, including Richard Newton and Sean McGrew.
The Lake Show
Since he arrived at Washington as a defensive assistant and moved up through the ranks, Lake has enjoyed great success at shutting down Oregon State. In the six games since Lake’s arrival in 2014, the Beavers have not scored more than 23 points and have been held to just seven points three times.
Washington has won eight straight overall in the series.