SEATTLE (AP) — Within a couple of days, No. 13 Washington went from having a tight competition for the starting quarterback job to being thin at the position.
The Huskies will start Georgia transfer Jacob Eason in Saturday's season opener against FCS powerhouse Eastern Washington. Eason won a fall camp competition with Jake Haener for the starting role. But the Huskies' plans for the opener and the season were thrown off when Haener left the program on Saturday, leaving Washington with only three scholarship quarterbacks and only Eason having any playing experience.
Washington coach Chris Petersen was caught off guard by Haener's decision.
"The timing is a little bit awkward. I think that was a bit surprising," Petersen said Monday.
Even though he had lost out to Eason to be the starter, Haener appeared in line to at least see some playing time in the opener and provided Washington a bit of comfort should anything happen. Haener played sparingly last season, but was the most experienced quarterback remaining on the roster.
Petersen said last Friday when announcing Eason as the starter that Haener would play in the opener because he had earned the opportunity. A day later, Haener was gone. He is the second scholarship quarterback to leave the Huskies this year after Colson Yankoff transferred to UCLA in the spring.
"The landscape if you look at college football, you pay attention to all those type of things," Petersen said. "We never bury our head in the sand. We're well aware of what could happen at all positions. So yeah, was it surprising? Yeah, the timing was surprising."
With Haener gone, the backup job falls to redshirt freshman Jacob Sirmon. Petersen had raved about the improvement of Sirmon and freshman Dylan Morris during fall camp, but was more reserved in his praise on Monday.
Unlike the plan with Haener, it doesn't appear Sirmon will be getting meaningful snaps in the opener. Eason will get the vast majority, if not all, of the playing time for the Huskies.
"Those were the two guys that were battling it out and Jacob Sirmon made nice strides, but it's a little bit different," Petersen said.