Everything UW Huskies Coach Jimmy Lake Said In His Cal Week Press Conference

By Lauren Smith


Zion Tupuola-Fetui has returned to the practice field in Seattle, Washington Huskies coach Jimmy Lake announced Monday.

“Then a big one here — I’m so proud of this guy,” Lake said during his weekly press conference, as he went through his list of announcements. “Zion participated in his first full padded practice. And it’s just really astounding how he has been able to overcome such a devastating injury.

“I think I told you guys this way back when — you could just see it in his eyes the day it happened that he was going to be determined to come back quicker than the experts thought. And it looks like that’s the case.”

Last season, Tupuola-Fetui earned both All-American and All-Pac-12 honors after piling up 13 total tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles during the shortened four-game schedule at outside linebacker.

His chance for a repeat performance early on this season was delayed in April, when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon during a spring practice.

But, six months later, it appears he’s nearing a return to UW’s defense. And ahead of schedule. Lake said in August, on the first day of fall camp, Tupuola-Fetui would “for sure be seeing the field in 2021” and he was already “way ahead of where our doctors thought he was going to be” in the recovery process.

“It’s extraordinary, for an injury like this, for him to come back so quickly and be able to move around as fast as he is and to be in great shape,” Lake said. “And it goes to his attitude, and his work ethic, and him doing everything that our trainers and doctors told him to do — and then some.”

The question now is when Tupuola-Fetui might play, with six games still remaining on the Huskies’ regular season schedule.

“He is still week-to-week,” Lake said. “But, to see him in full dress and going full go was impressive, and I’m so proud of his work ethic, and obviously our training staff and our medical staff of getting him back this quick from such a devastating injury.”

Lake said Tupuola-Fetui has cleared the number of practices he needs to play in games.

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“Now it’s going to be more of evaluating how much he can take rep-wise and stamina-wise,” Lake said. “That’s the balance right now of what he’s going to be able to take here without just throwing him in there and saying, ‘Hey, here you go. Let’s go play 100 plays, and you haven’t played football in (six) months.’ ”

What Lake said his standout linebacker has shown in practice so far, though, seems to be promising.

“He looked great,” Lake said. “We’re all excited for him. We know how much hard work he’s put in, and for him to move around out there in full dress and be able to make some plays, it definitely gave a boost of energy to our team as well. It was fun to watch him run around.”


Following their loss at Oregon State, the Huskies (2-3) had a bye week last week, which Lake said was beneficial in more ways than one.

“First of all, the bye week was beneficial to our players,” he said. “We got a lot of guys rested up and healed up.”

The coaching staff also had a chance to head out on the recruiting trail for the first time in more than a year.

“It was beneficial for us recruiting-wise,” Lake said. “It was our first time we’ve been in high schools since February of 2020, and you could just feel the jolt of energy and enthusiasm by the high school coaches and also the prospects and the players, just seeing the Washington logo across the campuses, across all the footprint in the West Coast and out into Texas.

“It was great to be able to evaluate these players in person, which all of us in college football have not been able to do for a long time, and be able for us to go see a bunch of high school football games as well. So, that was really cool for all the prospects and all the underclassmen and the seniors-to-be, for them to see colleges on their campus.”

Lake also said last week the coaching staff would also “take a deep dive into all three phases of our team” during the bye week.

“We learned a ton,” he said Monday. “It was breaking down all five of those games, all three phases, the good things that we’re doing, but also maybe the good things that we’re doing that we know our opponents will catch up to, so now we have to make some tweaks and fix those things.

“But, then also the things that we’re not doing so well and how we can correct those, and so now we’ve got to make sure we’re correcting that.”

This weekend’s meeting with UCLA in Seattle — the game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. — will mark the halfway point of UW’s regular season. The Huskies have road games at Arizona, Stanford and Colorado remaining on their schedule, and will also host Oregon, Arizona State and then Washington State in their regular season finale in November.

“We’ve got a lot of football left to play, and a lot of things can happen,” Lake said. “And so our team is hungry and we’re ready for this next opportunity.”


Lake said Huskies tight ends coach Derham Cato, who was injured on the sideline during the Oregon State game earlier this month, is “getting better” and will be back for UW’s meeting with UCLA this weekend.

Huskies defensive coordinator Bob Gregory is also “on the mend” following what Lake said was a non-COVID-19 illness after the Oregon State game. He will also be available against UCLA.

“He’s good to go,” Lake said. “He’s on the mend. He’ll be healthy. And I’m glad he’s in good shape.”


Sophomore kicker Tim Horn, who played in UW’s first four games, has decided to enter the transfer portal, Lake confirmed Monday.

Lake noted last week the Huskies would redshirt Horn, who had been listed as the backup to junior Peyton Henry, to preserve his season of eligibility following their Week 4 win over California.

“We were not planning on redshirting him this year, but after the four games he wanted to preserve his year,” Lake said Monday. “So, we definitely want to always make sure our players’ best interests are at heart. So, we did grant that.

“Then after further discussion, he wants to be the starting placekicker, and right at this point right now he’s our backup. So, we wish him the best.”

Horn, a former consensus three-star kicker from Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii) High School, has primarily handled kickoffs for the Huskies the past three seasons after signing with UW’s 2019 class. He also made each of his three extra point attempts this season in the win over Arkansas State, which were the first three of his career. He did not attempt a field goal in his career with UW.

Horn wrote a message on his Twitter account Monday afternoon, thanking coaches, teammates and fans for his time at UW and in Seattle.

He appeared in every game for the Huskies as a true freshman in 2019, each of their four games last fall, and the first four this season, averaging 66.2 yards per attempt on 122 kickoffs, per Pro Football Focus, with 58 touchbacks. Horn will have three years of eligibility remaining after redshirting this season.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of UW’s 1991 national championship season, the Huskies will wear throwback uniforms Saturday against UCLA, which feature gold helmets, purple and white jerseys and gold pants.

“Really excited that this has come together,” Lake said. “We thought this would be a great time for our homecoming game. This is usually when we get the most former players back in town. To be able to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of our 1991 National Championship, we felt this game was perfect for it.

“I know our players are excited to wear the throwback uniforms and wear the throwback logos, and the nostalgia of the logo and the old uniform dating back to our best year in the history of Husky Football will be special for all our former players, and of course Husky Nation.”

This story was originally published October 11, 2021 5:31 PM.

Source : https://www.bellinghamherald.com/sports/college/pac-12/university-of-washington/article254934537.html

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