The first full-pads practice of the spring featured the requisite amount of hitting, and also what the coaches always pray for — no significant injuries.
De’Shon Matthews sat out some with a lingering Achilles injury, and Cody Bruns sat out after suffering a concussion on Saturday. But everybody else made it through.
If you were there, you saw the team do a lot of situational plays during the team period — UW coach Steve Sarkisian said the emphasis today was on third downs, and there was also a second-and-seven competition.
There was also a bit more downfield throwing, Jake Locker connecting on what might have been the play of the day when he scrambled to the left to evade a rush and threw downfield to Devin Aguilar for 40 yards or so.
“He’s playing at a very high level,” Sarkisian said of Locker. “He used his legs really well today, threw the ball downfield more than we had the first three days, and those three guys (WRs Aguilar, Jermaine Kearse and James Johnson) are making plays for him down the field.”
Locker also hit Johnson on a nice fade route down the left side for 25 yards or so.
The most noteworthy personnel move might have been seeing Cameron Elisara playing liberal doses of defensive end. Not necessarily news as Sarkisian had said in his pre-spring press conference that he would experiment with Elisara at end to try to shore up a thin position. But Tuesday was the first day we really saw it — he typically worked with Alameda Ta’amu and Tyrone Duncan as the tackles with the No. 1 unit.
“We slid him out to end a little bit and he was as effective as he’s been at three technique (defensive tackle),” Sarkisian said of Elisara. “He’s disruptive, he got in the backfield again and was really solid against the run. Really effective.”
Asked if that’s a look the team could use during the season he said “easily, easily.”
Sarkisian also pointed to Ta’amu as a player who had a good day (obviously what I mentioned i the earlier blog must have just been a rotational thing) as well as strong safety Nate Williams, whom he said was “again, just solid.”
Defensively, he also singled out true freshman middle linebacker Victor Burnett, one of four members of the Class of 2010 who arrived in time for spring ball.
“I thought Victor Burnett showed up a little today, putting the full pads on, he made some really nice plays for us,” Sarkisian said.
Offensively, he cited left tackle Senio Kelemete, making a successful transition from guard.
“I’m really, really enjoying Senio Kelemete at the left tackle spot,” Sarkisian said. “He just looks natural there, and that’s what we were hoping to see. He looks impressive, like a big-time guy.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— The team will practice again on Thursday and Sarkisian said Saturday’s 1 p.m. practice will be “a full scrimmage.”
— Asked overall thoughts on the first day in pads, Sarkisian said: “I thought our guys competed well. Still really proud of our quarterbacks. I think we’ve thrown one interception in camp, I think that might have been a seven-on-seven drill, so the intensity is there but we are still making good decisions.”
— Nick Montana and Keith Price each got lots of reps with the No. 2 offense and Sarkisian said “some things we did numbers wise to get them a few different looks. Wanted to see them in some team setting stuff. I thought it was effective. I thought they each did some really nice things again today.”
— Asked whether he wants to see someone emerge as a clear-cut No. 2 this spring, Sarkisian said he’s not sure “that’s high on my wish list,” indicating he has no problem if it goes into the fall. “I want to see either guy, who is the best prepared for that spot.”
— Asked about the value of redshirting Montana, he said: “I think its helpful for some of the other positions, like O line, D line, the physical maturation process is critical. From the quarterback position it’s more mental, if you can get those mental reps. And seeing Keith Price when we go to fall camp day one this year, compared to last year, it’s going to be a night and day difference of a player, and you’re seeing it already. Nick Montana, the value of a redshirt would be great, but that remains to be seen if we’ll get that luxury.”
— It was the first full pads day for freshman RBs Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, and Sarkisian said he liked what he saw, though he cautioned he’d need to look at the film to see how they did in pass protection. Elisara blew through Callier on the pass play where Locker ended up throwing deep to Aguilar. “It’s not always about the physical toughness, it’s the mental toughness, and I thought neither of them were in shock or awe,” Sarkisian said. “They just came out and played again.”
— Sarkisian said he figured the veterans would test the two frosh and that he thought they held up fine: “They want to see how they respond, what they are like, if they are taking the big hit what they are going to do. Those two kids, what I appreciate about them is they keep their mouth shut, they get back in the huddle, and they go again.”
— On the last play of practice, Clarence Trent made what might have been his best play so far, busting off the line and making a hit on Johri Fogerson. “He made the play there at the end and that was good for him,” Sarkisian said. “And it was in the run game, not the pass game. His game is starting to evolve, he’s starting to get his feet under him a little bit more.”
— With Bruns out, punter Will Mahan handled holding duties.