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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 19, 2009 at 11:55 AM

More from practice

Almost halfway through fall camp — today was practice 11 of 24 the team will hold before entering gameweek preparations for LSU — it began to feel a little like the proverbial “dog days” at Husky Stadium this morning.
It was a quiet stadium — at one point I think I counted nine people in the stands — made more so by the lack of the usual music. Steve Sarkisian said that wasn’t intentional, saying he didn’t know what happened “to the D.J.”
One of the few fans there was former UW hoops player Spencer Hawes, who you can see in the photo below (he’s the tall one).
husky pictures aug 14 009.jpg
The relative silence, however, allowed those who were there to get a good look at the coaching style of Sarkisian. He was everywhere on the field throughout the two hours of practice, at one point walking the receivers through the basics of a route, the kind of thing usually the domain of the assistants.
I talked with a couple of longtime UW observers afterward who contrasted Sarkisian’s coaching style to some of the other Husky coaches. Tyrone Willingham, for instance, tended to be a little more distant, more of an overseer of practice. He might stop and chat with a booster or friend for 15 minutes on the sidelines, keeping an eye on practice but not necessarily involved in it. Rick Neuheisel tended to meld both styles a bit, more than happy to be spend some time visiting on the sidelines if the mood struck him.
But Sarkisian, one of the observers told me, “is all football.”
Another knowledgable person told me recently of the new staff that “they’re just football coaches.” And what he meant was that there is no other overarching goals for this staff, no molding of men, necessarily. Just winning football games.
That approach seemed in full bloom today as Sarkisian and his staff stormed all over the field with the “energy and enthusiasm” that has become their trademark.
There seemed to be a little despair, maybe, thrown in today, as well, as it also seemed like the players were caught up in the dog days a little bit.
The practice seemed a little sloppy on the offensive side with more than few dropped passes and ill-timed routes.
Sarkisian said some of that was due to improved play by the defense. Worth noting that the team practiced a lot of second-and-long and third-down situations during the drills, which gave a little bit of an edge to the defense.
“I thought our defense really came out focused and moving fast and playing well,” Sarkisian said. “There was a huge emphasis on third down and getting stops andn playing better man coverage,and I thought they did that today.
“They did a good job pressuring and a good job on third down in seven on seven and in team, and they made it hard for the wideouts. We’ve got to challenge the wideouts that they have to create separation in man coverage.”
As for the dropped passes, Sarkisian said “that doesn’t help,. We’ve got to find a way to get out of the mold of being convenience catchers. Catching it when it’s convenient and no one is around you is an easy catch. But when someone is around you, that’s when you have to make plays.”
One WR who was making plays was true frosh James Johnson, back after missing a few days with a shoulder injury. He spent a lot of time with the No., 1 offense when it was in passing situations.
A FEW OTHER NOTES
— Sarkisian said a film review of Tuesday’s scrimmage showed that the young players can do well when they know what they are doing. “But they struggle, just like all kids, when new things come in and it just slows them down so much. The challenge for us as a staff is to bring those guys along where they can help us in a normal game-setting, not just in a scrimmage where there are reduced calls on both sides.”
— Sarkisian said he likes the depth at LB that is developing. “Matt Houston keeps getting better, he showed up in great shape. I really like what Jordan Wallace is bringing. And Cort Dennison just kind of makes plays. He’s not the flashiest guy in the world but he knows his assignments pretty well and he makes plays.”
— Sarkisian said that as camp progresses there is beginning to be some separation between those players who are getting comfortable playing in intense situations and those who can’t. Sarkisian said goal of practice is to prepare players for the intensity of game-day surroundings. “The more comfortable they get in that environment, the faster they play,” he said. “And I think we have some guys who aren’t comfortable in that environment andd they are starting to see some separation in the speed and the level of play that is going on.”
— Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin said Desmond Trufant should return to practice sometime this week. Trufant has been absent the last few days while finishing up a class to replace a course that was denied by the NCAA Clearinghouse. “We should be getting Trufant back in the next couple of days, which is going to be a good addition,” he said. “I really feel he is going to come out and be able to help us. I think the thing that happened hurt him as far as him being a super-early contributor. But he’s a smart guy and with his football background and bloodline, I think he will catch up real fast.”
— Martin also noted that David Batts has been getting some work at CB the last few days, which was evident in the scrimmage Tuesday. “He can play nickel, safety and corner and we’re just trying to get the best combination of guys out there on the corner,” he said.
— There was a lot of work early in the practice today on special teams, breaking down the coverage units, that sort of thing.
— I’ll try to get an updated depth chart up before the night practice.
All for now.

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