Head coach Jimmy Lake and the Washington Huskies will play a seven-game season beginning Nov. 6. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Head coach Jimmy Lake and the Washington Huskies will play a seven-game season beginning Nov. 6. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

UW ‘off and running’ in preparing for season opener

After a ‘roller coaster’ offseason, new head coach Jimmy Lake turns his attention to the football field.

By Lauren Kirschman / The News Tribune

SEATTLE — Washington head football coach Jimmy Lake compared the experience to riding a roller coaster, one that started plunging the moment the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of spring practice.

The lows lasted a while, for UW and the rest of the Pac-12. There was the postponement of fall camp followed by the elimination of the non-conference schedule. Some hope arrived at the end of July when the conference approved a 10-game, conference-only slate set to open on Sept. 26. But less than two weeks later, the Pac-12 decided to postpone all sports through the end of 2020.

For weeks, the only possibility of the roller coaster ascending was the distant chance of a spring season beginning in January. But then the Pac-12 entered into a partnership with Quidel Corp. to provide daily, point-of-care COVID-19 testing.

Last Thursday, the Pac-12 announced it would play a seven-game season beginning Nov. 6. The schedule has yet to be released.

“At this point of the roller coaster, we’re at the top right now,” UW first-year head coach Jimmy Lake said during a video call on Tuesday. “We are extremely excited to put all our schemes in. We’re out there practicing all together again. Right now, we are fired up that we get to play football and go play against an opponent here in about six weeks.”

The Huskies practiced for two and a half weeks after the conference decided on a postponement. The coaching staff then sent most of the true freshmen home — the veteran players continued to work out in UW’s facilities — and planned to bring them back shortly before the start of the fall quarter.

During that span, UW didn’t hold practices for about two and a half weeks. With the fall quarter starting Wednesday, every player arrived in Seattle by last Monday and went through a seven-day quarantine. The Huskies held their first two practices on Monday and Tuesday.

“We’re off and running,” Lake said, “getting ready for our 2020 season.”

The 2020 season doesn’t look much like Lake expected, but he’s relied on advice from his predecessor — former UW coach Chris Petersen — to help him navigate a particularly turbulent offseason.

“I think it was after our first year at Boise State,” Lake said. “He told (the coaches), he said, ‘When you’re a head coach, you’re a problem solver. That’s what you are. Every day, you’re solving problems.’ That really stuck with me.

“There’s no question, I think all of us have been solving problems during this pandemic. But that sticks with me every single day. My job is to problem-solve. If this isn’t working, we got to do this. If this isn’t working, we got to do this.”

One of the biggest challenges will be preparing his team to take the field in just six weeks without the benefit of spring practice. Add in a new offensive coordinator and a wide-open quarterback competition, and the Huskies might not be off that roller coaster just yet.

Despite the lack of full, on-the-field work, UW tight end Cade Otton said the offensive players have used this time to grow comfortable with first-year offensive coordinator John Donovan.

“I think everybody on the offense has been in their playbook, studying really hard,” Otton said. “In these first couple of days, it’s shown. We have a really good foundation of what we’re going to do and we’re executing really well in these first two days. I’m really impressed with our guys.”

And even though senior defensive back Elijah Molden understands the worry behind missing spring practice — he initially had some himself — he echoed Otton’s thoughts. While the Huskies’ physical work has been nontraditional, they’ve prepared in other ways.

“We had a lot of time sitting at home on our couches and that was when we dove into the playbook and had our meetings and got right mentally,” Molden said. “Yes, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be a new transition, but I think it’s going to be OK.”

The next step is getting the players prepared physically, which Lake said won’t be a problem for the more experienced members of the roster.

“We still have to get into football shape and be able to run football plays and be tired and then run football plays again after getting hit and be able to get back up,” Lake said. “That’s going to be the difference. In terms of training, (strength coach Tim) Socha and his staff have done an unbelievable job.

“Our true freshmen, we just got to see if those guys are ready to go physically. We don’t know that yet until we get the pads on and we start banging around a little bit. But that’s always the case any year not just in 2020. We’ll be able to figure out that out here as we open training camp in October.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been a huge factor in Seattle’s 5-0 start. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Grading the Seahawks at the bye week

Through five games Seattle is 5-0, and the marks reflect that record.

Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf, right, catches the game-winning touchdown as Minnesota’s Anthony Harris defends in Seattle’s 27-26 victory over the Vikings on Oct. 11 at CenturyLink Field. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
POLL: What was the Seahawks’ biggest pre-bye moment?

Seattle is 5-0 at its bye, and there has been no shortage of defining plays.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson reacts after throwing the game winning touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 27-26. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Wilson has been ‘as good as you can get’ for Seahawks

The star quarterback’s brilliant play has Seattle at 5-0 entering the bye week.

Ryan Leveck makes a jump as he makes his way down the slopes during the opening day of Stevens Pass on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019 in Stevens Pass, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald).
You will need a reservation to ski at Stevens Pass this year

But despite capacity restrictions, the resort expects most skiers and boarders will get a lift ticket.

Washington quarterbacks Kevin Thomson, left, and Jacob Sirmon, right, drop to pass during NCAA college football practice, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Who will be the guy at quarterback for UW?

New head coach Jimmy Lake and offensive coordinator John Donovan are in no rush to name a starter.

Everett Silvertips' Jake Christiansen takes a shot on goal during the game on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fans or no fans, Silvertips’ season will begin in January

The WHL says that its previous requirement of at least 50% capacity in arenas is no longer an issue.

Turner Stevenson addresses the team during practiice Wednesday afternoon at Xfinity Arena in Everett on January 11, 2017. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett Jr. Silvertips move to Seattle Junior Hockey

The program will join the Mountlake Terrace-based league due to ongoing problems with ice time.

Community sports roundup: Local golfers earn alternate spots

A trio of county natives will be first alternates for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball Championship.

The No. 18 car of Tyson Lang, Glacier Peak's starting varsity quarterback, races around the track at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. (Photo provided by Evergreen Speedway)
Local teenager stars on the racetrack and on the football field

Tyson Lang is the season points leader at Evergreen Speedway — and also Glacier Peak’s starting QB.

Mariner's Henry Avra is fouled by Glacier Peak’s Brayden Quantrille while going for a basket. Mariner lost to Glacier Peak 90-87 in double overtime in a boys' basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
New guidelines released for return of prep sports

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.

The Central Welding Supply 125, which serves as the season finale at Evergreen Speedway, will attempt to run on Saturday, after being bumped postponed last weekend due to weather.
Season finale set for Saturday at Evergreen Speedway

The Central Welding Supply 125 was supposed to run last weekend, but was postponed due to weather.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, left, smiles at Breanna Stewart after the team defeated the Las Vegas Aces to win basketball’s WNBA championship last week in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
POLL RESULTS: 2020 deemed the greatest team in Storm history

By a two-to-one margin, Seattle’s 2020 championship team out-polled the 2010 titlists.