Also, Chris Petersen says starters Nick Harris and DJ Beavers are ‘week to week’ with undisclosed injuries.
Jake Haener climbed the seven steps that led into the stands in the northwest corner of Husky Stadium. There, he found his family and friends, and they happily exchanged handshakes and hugs.
What a debut for Washington’s redshirt freshman quarterback. Sure, it came in mop-up duty in the fourth quarter against a lower-division opponent, but Haener was flawless in his first appearance for the No. 9 Huskies in Saturday’s 45-3 rout of North Dakota.
Haener, a 6-foot redshirt freshman from Danville, Calif., drew a hearty cheer from the announced crowd of 68,093 at Husky Stadium. He then completed all five of his passes on his opening drive, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ty Jones in the right edge of the end zone. Jones made a sensational one-handed catch while being held by a North Dakota defender.
“I’ve been seeing it behind the scenes for a long time,” Jones said. “I’m just happy he could finally show what he’s got. He’s earned it.”
Haener finished 7 for 7 for 110 yards with one touchdown.
“Fired up,” offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan said. “For a No. 2 guy who’s got to wait the whole the game … to stay locked in and come in there and cut it loose, I thought that’s what was so great about that performance. We gave him some chances on the outside and guys made plays for him.”
During spring practices, Haener separated himself as the Huskies’ clear No. 2 QB, ahead of the two touted true freshman, Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff.
Haener is expected to be Jacob Eason’s primary challenger for the chance to succeed Jake Browning as the starting QB in 2019.
“I knew when his name was called he would go out and do what he did today,” receiver Quinten Pounds said of Haener. “Really proud of what he did today. It was awesome to see.”
Per team policy, freshmen such as Haener are not made available for interviews.
Nick Harris, DJ Beavers ‘week to week’
Two starters sat out Saturday’s game with undisclosed injuries: junior center Nick Harris and junior linebacker DJ Beavers.
Senior Jesse Sosebee made his first start at center in Harris’ place.
Beavers was on the sideline wearing a large boot on his right foot.
It is unclear if either Harris or Beavers will be available for UW’s Pac-12 opener at Utah on Saturday (7 p.m., ESPN). Coach Chris Petersen offered no updates on their injury status beyond saying they’re “week to week.”
Petersen did confirm in an interview with the Pac-12 Networks that star left tackle Trey Adams did have surgery on his back last week. The Seattle Times was first to report about Adams’ injury. Petersen confirmed Adams will be out long term but did not rule out a potential late-season return for the 2016 first-team all-Pac-12 lineman.
Three true freshmen play
In the third quarter, Tuli Letuligasenoa, a 336-pound defensive tackle, became the first true freshman to make an appearance for the Huskies this season.
In the fourth quarter, two more true freshmen played: linebackers Jackson Sirmon and MJ Tafisi.
A handful of true freshmen did not suit up — tight end Devin Culp and defensive backs Kyler Gordon, Julius Irvin and Dominique Hampton, among them — meaning the plan for now is for them to redshirt this season. A new NCAA rule does allow a player to appear in up to four games without using a redshirt season.
— Jake Browning threw his 80th career touchdown in the first quarter and 81st in the third quarter. He is the 12th Pac-12 player to throw 80 or more touchdown passes in their career.
— Browning went for over 300 yards passing for the eighth time in his career. He finished the day with 313 yards through the air and broke into the Pac-12’s all-time top-20 list. He has 9,713 career passing yards, which places him 19th all-time on the conference list.
— Browning passed Jake Locker for second in UW history for total offense. Browning is up to 9,833 yards and is 271 away from passing by Cody Pickett (10,103) as the team’s all-time leader.
— In the second quarter, Myles Gaskin scored the 50th touchdown in his UW career. He has 46 rushing and four receiving TDs. His 46 rushing TDs ties him for eighth all-time in Pac-12 history with Jacquizz Rodgers of Oregon State.
— Gaskin rushed for 53 yards and now has 4,183 for his career. He passed Stanford’s Darrin Nelson (4,169) for ninth all-time in Pac-12 history. Gaskin is 97 yards away from passing Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (4,239) for eighth all-time.
— The Huskies have won nine straight games at home.
— The Huskies have scored 40 or more points in five straight home openers and have won nine straight home opening games (last loss, 2009 vs. LSU).