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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 14, 2009 at 7:38 PM

Fall camp wrapup — Day Five

The first full pads practice was one for the defense. …
WHAT HAPPENED
UW held its fifth practice of fall camp in front of a couple hundred fans on an afternoon that began threatening but turned out downright pleasant by the end. It was the first practice of the fall in full pads.
THE BIG STORY
As referenced earlier, this appeared to be a rousing win for the defense, especially during the last half-hour or so, when the team did 11-on-11 full-contact drills (though just short of tackling completely to the ground) focusing on blitz and sudden change situations (or those following a turnover).
“I thought our defense really stepped up the intensity,” said coach Steve Sarkisian. “They did a great job with the pressures, fitting runs in the run game, and made it hard on our offense. They were knocking them back on first down and the offense was in second-and-longs and third-and-longs and it was hard to convert.”
In fact, of six possessions for the offense — two each for the first, second and third units — there was only one touchdown. That was a 42-yard drive by the No. 1 offense keyed by a 26-yard Jake Locker run to bail the team out of a third-and-14. The run was downed at the nine by the touch and Johri Fogerson scored on the next play, though in a real game, Locker likely would have scored.
Sarkisian said he liked the fire Locker showed at that point when he appeared to be trying to fire up a relatively listless unit on his own though he said “the challenge for Jake is to show the fire all the time, to show the fire at the beginning, not necessarily when things aren’t going well.”
Sacks are by the touch and it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly who would have gotten the real credit for it. But I had Daniel Te’o-Nesheim with at least two (looked like he could have been involved in another one) and Mason Foster also with two.
STAR OF THE DAY
So as you might expect from all of that, Foster and Te’o-Nesheim would rank as the standouts of the day. Sarkisian, however, also threw in each of the other two starting linebackers, Donald Butler and E.J. Savannah.
“I think our backers really showed up today,” he said. “I thought all three of those guys, you could feel their presence today. And I thought Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, you could really feels his presence today. Those guys are physical players in full pads and they really brought it today.”
Foster is at a new position this year, strongside linebacker, lined up over the tight end and called on to pass rush more than a year ago. It seems to suit him so far.
Te’o-Nesheim, meanwhile, simply looks like one of the best couple players on the field almost every day.
As mentioned earlier, it appeared that when the team went 11-on-11 that the offensive front had trouble blocking the defensive front seven. But Sarkisian noted that a lot of that was blitzes and things like that, the kind of thing that offenses sometimes just aren’t ready for this early in camp — it’s not unusual for the defense to be a little ahead of the offense at this point.
But Sarkisian also noted that the offense “did some pretty good things early.” As mentioned, the offense particularly dominated during a seven-on-seven drill about midway through practice. Locker was 5-6 for 90 yards in that drill including a long TD to D’Andre Goodwin.
Keith Price also had some nice moments in that drill, hitting James Johnson for a 25-yard TD in which the receiver was hit hard at the goal line but held on, continuing his impressive play. Ronnie Fouch also led a TD drive that concluded in a short TD pass to Jermaine Kearse.
And a highlight of an early 11-on-11 session was a perfectly-placed slant pass from Locker that Jordan Polk took in stride and turned into an 80-yard touchdown.
“There were some big plays earlier,” Sarkisian said.
NOTES, QUOTES AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
— As noted earlier, no real injuries today. FB Paul Homer sat out with a hamstring and CB Justin Glenn with a hip. Glenn was replaced during the final team session by Vonzell McDowell.
— When the first unit went to a nickel, safety David Batts came on the field as the extra DB. Batts also made his presence felt with at least one sack in the final team period.
— If reading the above makes it seem as if Locker had a good day passing, he did. The offense struggled in the later period largely because of the dominance by the D-line.
Kavario Middleton seemed to get a lot of time with the ones at tight end today though Chris Izbicki was also used quite a bit and had a nice 20-yard catch of a Locker pass at one point.
Will Mahan had a 52-yard punt to kick off the special teams period and earned praise from Sarkisian afterward. “Not only is he puting the ball with good hang time and getting it off quick, he is doing the things we like directionally, which is key in coverage.” So I think you can pencil him in as the punter.
Erik Folk was 4-5 on field goals, missing only a 37-yarder that hit the upright. All were into the closed section of the end zone and into a slight wind. Sarkisian also praised Folk and indicated that a few recent misses by Folk have been more of a team-wide thing. “I thik he is strong,” Sarkisian said. “I think our battery there is a little inconsistent with the snap and the hold and that is causing some things as we back up, causing some inconsistency there. He had two really good days leadiing up today.He missed a 52-yarder yesterday on an early snap that was again a timing issue. But I think he is good and I think he will only continue to get better.” So also doesn’t look like much of a battle there.
— There wasn’t a lot of running to speak of, though that seemed more due to up front issues than with the running backs. Fogerson had the lone TD in the team session, however, and Demitrius Bronson had some nice runs working with the No. 3 unit (though don’t ready anything into that as all the RBs were just being rotated in to give each as many reps as possible).
— All the backs got some reps with the ones, which included Curtis Shaw who earned this praise afterward from Sarkisian. “We want to see Curtis. We want to see what he can do. He’s an explosive back and obviously he’s got great speed. How he looks in pass protection and route running and all of those things will be key again. We’ve tried to keep this thing as open as we could at a lot of positions, especially that one because we want to see thse guys in full pads.”
— Among alums at practice today were Braxton Cleman, Casey Paus and Brad Vanneman.
— UW officials say Dubs, the new mascot, will not be at Picture Day Sunday but will be at the Raise the Woof event later this month. Dubs is stil getting acclimated to large crowds, apparently.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Sarkisian on his approach to trying to make football fun: “I want to make sure at the end of the day they are having fun doing what they are doing. Playing football, the best way to have fun is being who you are and I’m not going to change who I am, and our coaches aren’t going to change, and I don’t want these guys (the players) to change. Obviously I want them to adhere to rules and regulations that we have and execute things the way we want them executed. But at the end of every play, we should be smiling and sometimes there are some things that need to be corrected. But we are fortunate to be part of a great football program and come out and play a sport we love in a beautiful stadium. So let’s enjoy the process of it.”
WHAT’S NEXT
UW will hold its first two-a-day today, the first at 8:45 a.m. and the second at 6:45 p.m. If you are planning to come out, the second one would be the better of the two. Sarkisian said the first practice will be light, with only helmets, and probably not last very long. The second one will be full pads and much more active.

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