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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 2, 2009 at 10:45 PM

Wednesday practice report — Sark finetunes his gameday routine

Just one real practice left now until the Steve Sarkisian era officially kicks off Saturday against LSU — the team will go in helmets Thursday and then a walk-through Friday.
And on Wednesday, as the Huskies practiced in shells under the lights, there was a lot of preparing for what is to come once the lights truly go on in three days.
Sarkisian, for instance, spent a healthy portion of practice signaling in plays from the sidelines, as will also be his role come gameday as he will not only be the head coach but will also call the offense for the Huskies. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will be in the booth serving as Sarkisian’s eyes, but Sarkisian will be the one with the eyes on him.
Some head coaches do also call plays — Cal’s Jeff Tedford comes to mind. But Rick Neuheisel, to name one, tried it when he began his head coaching career at Colorado but no longer did so when he got to Washington, deciding it split his responsibilities in too many directions.,
Sarkisian, however, says he has no concerns about how it will all work out.
“Fortunately for myself, when I was with Pete (Carroll at USC), I had a good hand in the game management side of it, whether it was going for it on fourth down or two-points conversions or accepting penalties or declining penalties, because Pete was obviously handling the defense. So I don’t envision a whole lot changing. It’s what I’m accustomed to doing so I feel very comfortable doing it.”
And Sarkisian said he will rely on his assistants heavily in the process.
“Doug is upstairs and he’ll be my eyes up top and he’s excellent at it, and that’s where he’s used to being,” Sarkisian said. “So it should set up really good with (and running backs coacch) Joel Thomas and (WR coach) Jimmie Dougherty doing the personnel (from on the field) and then Danny (Cozzetto) analyzing the run game for us to give us all his thoughts and ideas on the run game.”
Like a lot of coaches, Sarkisian scripts the first 15 plays, though he noted that can get skewed in how the public views it as obviously the plays can be altered based on the game situation. But in general, the first 15 plays are scripted and practiced all week. “That’s the way I’ve been raised, and that way the players know the first 15,” he said.
As for the first play of his UW career, Sarkisian said “I’m still pondering that one.”
— For much of the two hours, it wasn’t Jake Locker’s best practice as he seemed a little off-target, at one point throwing interceptions on two straight plays. But he rallied in the final team period — when the Huskies go 11-on-11 with the ones against the ones — completing 4-9, but with one drop and one that was an intentional overthrow when rushed. Said Sarkisian: “Some of the service period things he had a couple of throws that weren’t his best throws. But we are trying to gameplan some things and sometimes you don’t get the look you want and guys are reading off a card and the speed and tempo of the drill (isn’t maybe the same). But I thought when we got into the team period and going against the defense as the speed of the drill really picked up, I thought his game was on-point.”
— It also wasn’t the best practice for PK Erik Folk, who was 3-6, hitting from PAT range, 25 and 33 but missing from 42, 42 and 48. Asked if he’s concerned about Folk, Sarkisian paused and then said “to some degree, yes. I’d be a fool to say I’m not because of the consistency factor.He comes out some days and he’s potentially one of the best kickers in our conference. And the next day he’ll struggle some. So the challenge for myself being the head coach or Johnny Nansen with the special teams is to find his consistency level because there’s no question he’s talented and can be a real weapon for us. But we’ve got to find him where he can be on a level playing field day-in and day-out.”
— If you want to know why James Johnson has ascended to a likely starting position, you needed to see a few plays in practice Wednesday as he again turned heads with his play. On one play, he also turned his body in mid-air reaching to catch a pass in front of Quinton Richardson, showing veteran-level body control and awareness of the ball. Johnson simply looks like he belongs on the field.
De’Shon Matthews ran with the ones at one DT spot much of the night ahead of Alameda Ta’amu and alongside Cameron Elisara. Sarkisian said Matthews is “in the mix” to be the starter come Saturday. “He is really plaing the last week and a half, two weeks,” Sarkisian said. “He’s really coming on strong. He’s just playing with his hands better. He’s got a better motor. He’s active and he’s around the ball.”
— Elisara was back to full duty after missing three practices with what he later clarified was a stiff neck. “Let’s just say I wasn’t born with the best spine,” he said. “It’s something I’ve got to keep working on, keep loose and maintain it so I’ll be ready for the game. It’s nothing too bad.”
— Sarkisian also spent a lot of time early on working with the WRs on getting off press coverage at the line of scrimmage. Sarkisian would come up and bump the WRs as they headed off on their routes.
— Asked that it seemed as if the defensive backs are hitting harder now, Sarkisian said “I think it’s our entire football team. We’ve got to become a physical football team and obviously the defensive backs are indicative of that because you can see it across the board that we are a more phsyical team. And I’m proud of our DBs because they have shown up and grown into that role. I’m not sure we started that way but to the credit of (cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin and safeties coach Jeff Mills) they are playing that way.”
— LSU is scheduled to leave for Seattle Thursday night after practice. The Tigers are then slated for a walk-through at Husky Stadium Friday.
Corey Dillon will be the Husky Legend honored at Saturday’s game.
All for now.



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