SEATTLE — Kyler Gordon can win in numerous ways.
On Friday, Washington coach Jimmy Lake directed Gordon to go against second-year freshman wide receiver Jalen McMillan in the program’s “spotlight” drill — in which a pass-catcher is tasked with beating a defensive player 1-on-1 on a single play, with 10 pushups assigned to the losing unit. When the ball was snapped, Gordon — a 6-0, 200-pound corner — jammed McMillan off the line, then ran step-for-step and forced both McMillan and Sam Huard’s pass out of bounds for an incompletion.
Later, Gordon — who is expected to start opposite sophomore Trent McDuffie in his fourth collegiate season — leaped to intercept graduate transfer quarterback Patrick O’Brien on a deep ball in the back of the end zone.
But the former Archbishop Murphy standout’s impact transcends defense. Gordon also worked as a returner on Friday, and he sprinted downfield with the coverage team to down a 49-yard Race Porter punt at the 3-yard line.
Come Sept. 4, expect Gordon to contribute in just about every aspect except offense.
In all, UW’s seventh fall practice — its first away from Husky Stadium — lasted just under two hours, cut short perhaps due to the smoke sweeping over Seattle.
But here are some other observations from Friday’s field trip to Memorial Stadium in Seattle:
On Wednesday, Lake declared tight end Cade Otton’s hands the best on the team.
On Friday, Otton — a first-team All-Pac-12 performer — dropped one of the first passes that came his way.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end from Tumwater spent the rest of UW’s seventh fall practice making up for that mistake.
Specifically, Otton — the older brother of 2022 four-star tight end recruit Ryan Otton, another UW commit — hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from starting quarterback Dylan Morris in two-minute scrimmage drills. The first strike arrived from 17 yards out, as Morris zipped a pass through a tight window to Otton down the seam in a 7-on-7 drill. After Otton secured the score, the starting offense celebrated by sitting arm-in-arm behind the end zone — as a thin layer of smoke somewhat obscured the Space Needle.
But the Morris-to-Otton connection had more in store. Near the end of practice, Morris took a shotgun snap at the 21-yard line, turned to his left and lofted a floater towards the corner of the end zone. Despite tight coverage from Husky safety Dominique Hampton, Otton extended to pull the ball in over his shoulder.
The safety shuffle
In UW’s ongoing safety competition, Alex Cook and Dominique Hampton operated as the starters on Friday.
But Julius Irvin made the play of the day.
In a 7-on-7 two-minute drill, Irvin — a 6-1, 185-pound sophomore — jumped a post at the edge of the end zone to intercept O’Brien and end the drive. Though the play was blown dead, Irvin sprinted 100 yards to the opposite end zone.
UW was also short several safeties on Friday, as Cameron Williams missed his third consecutive practice with an apparent injury and Asa Turner was not in attendance at all. While Irvin, Hampton and Cook continue to compete for high leverage reps, Williams and Turner’s statuses will be worth monitoring in the practices ahead.
— Second-year freshman corner Jacobe Covington played without the club he’d been wearing on his left hand this fall for the first time on Friday. The 6-2, 195-pounder also received a few first-team reps and picked up a sack of O’Brien on a blitz up the middle. A former four-star recruit from Chandler, Ariz., Covington seems to embrace the physical aspect of the game — and he, Elijah Jackson and Mishael Powell have separated themselves behind starting corners McDuffie and Gordon.
— Richard Newton, Cameron Davis and Kamari Pleasant were the primary tailbacks with the starters on Friday. Davis, in particular, continues to impress as a pass-catcher. It’ll be interesting to see how often they utilize that aspect of his skill set this fall.
— Besides Turner and Williams, linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala, cornerbacks Elijah Jackson and Dyson McCutcheon, and offensive lineman Samuel Peacock all missed Friday’s practice with apparent injuries.