Tuesday marked the end of the second-third of spring practices — 10 down, five to go.
It was also, as UW coach Steve Sarkisian (pictured right during an earlier spring workout) said, the beginning of a new phase of the spring. The first nine practices, he said, were spent largely installing plays. Now, it’s about refining.
“We have six days, and this is the first day of it, to really teach at another level and not just install plays and get guys lined up, but take this teaching process and learning curve to another level,” he said.
“I want to make sure that our guys understand that we don’t just come out here and run plays, that we are not just calling three-deep zone or four verts or outside zone on offense, it’s them understanding why we are calling the things we are calling and really understanding conceptually what we are trying to get accomplished. The installation is way down now. Now it’s understanding what and why we are calling it in the situations we are getting.”
Asked if he has liked what he has seen so far in the spring, Sarkisian said he was “pleased but not satisfied.”
And the one thing he said Tuesday he wanted to see more of was physicality on each side of the ball. He said he thought that’s been lacking at times, especially of late on the offensive line.
So the Huskies shook up the personnel on the OL a little today, specifically using Greg Christine more with the starting unit at guard (usually in place of Mykenna Ikehara, who then worked with the No. 2 unit at center).
“We had a lot of different guys rolling with the ones and twos, mixed it up pretty good today,” he said. “I wanted to see what it looked like. … I don’t know if we’ve been as physical as I want, that’s why we came out with a point of emphasis, I wanted a physical practice today. We need to be more physical up front on both sides of the ball, to be honest with you. I think that showed up today. I thought we tackled better today, outside of a few occasions, and I thought we were more physical at the point of attack, especially on the defensive line, which is critical. And now the offensive line has to respond.”
Sarkisian said mixing up the OL a little bit was also simply to see how it would look with some different combinations.
“We like to go ones on ones and twos on twos, and you can get into a rut where the same guy keeps going against the same players and it’s hard to get a fair evaluation of him,” he said. “So by switching some guys, whether it be the O-line or the D-line, you get some different matchups. So we’ll see what this film looks like with some guys going against a different body in front of them.”
Overall, though, he thought this was a good day for the defense. Quinton Richardson, for instance, had a pick-six of a Jake Locker pass during an early team drill, and the defense stopped the No. 1 offense three-and-out during the final team session.
“I thought our defense brought a lot of intensity in general,” he said. “I thought at times the offense matched it. But all in all it was a good physical practice, good full-padded practice. We got a lot of good special situations done and hopefully there is some good film to look at and we can come back Thursday and clean some stuff up.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— One OL spot that has remained constant is Senio Kelemete at left tackle. Asked about Kelemete, Sarkisian said: “I love him, I love him. He’s an all-pac-10 player.” Asked why he thinks Kelemete is an all-conference player, he said: “Because of one, his want-to. He wants to be great, he’s athletically gifted enough to play that positon and he’s got the leadership qualities it takes to be that type of guy. He’s definitely that type of guy.”
— Asked about the fullback position, Sarkisian said: “I like what Dorson Boyce is bringing. He brings the ability to play on the line of scrimmage because of his history at tight end, but he’s shown some nice hands out of the backfield on some different things. So from a conversion (of position) standpoint that’s encvouraging to me.”
— Asked about Demitrius Bronson’s switch to fullback, he said: “Bronson’s just a little bit behind on the learning curve, we kind of did it a few days into spring so he didn’t get the entire off-season to really learn the position. So he’s doing a few things here and there that are encouraging, but we won’t really get a full taste of that until fall camp when he can see the film from this spring, study it all summer then really get into it in fall camp.”
— Asked about helping players switch positions, he said: “I think the biggest part of it is one, there is an attitude about helping the team and doing what’s best for the football team and giving yourself the best opportunity to get on the field — what it looks like at that position. The thing we do a pretty good job of is once we make those changes, we throw them right in, give them some shots, so we don’t belabor the point — if it’s worth it its worth, it if it’s not, it’s not, we can move them back. … With (Anthony) Boyles, Bronson, you’ve seen them in there versus the good guys to see what they do well and what they don’t do well.”
— Asked to assess the difference between this spring and last spring, he said: “I think you’re seeing it from a speed point of view. Our guys are playing fast right now, there’s not as much wondering, not as much thinking. Think they are playing relentlessly, which is the way you want them to play, so from that standpoint it just tells you year two you have a better knowledge and base of the systems.”
— Asked which side is ahead — offense or defense — he said: “I think it varies, and that’s how I want it. I would say today the defense got after them pretty good. But naturally when you have a good football team and good coaches and competitive guys, Thursday the offense should come back and have a pretty good day again and that’s the way spring has been to me. That’s how you want it. You want each group to make each group get better and better and better and better not one get better and the other stay the same.”
— Asked one player that has stood out so far in spring, he said: “The guy that to me has really increased, not only physically but mentally and from a leadership standpoint, we can’t ask for more than what we’ve gotten out of Cort Dennison this spring. He’s a guy that played fvie football games for us last year and played well but has really taken his game to another level this spring. He’s a leader, he’s intense, he’s physical. Been really proud of what he’s done.”
— Asked about the progress and conversion of Boyles at CB, he said: “It’s huge especially in our conference where we’ve got some big receivers. They are tough mnatchups for you if you don’t have a tough, long-armed guy. I think he’s come a really long way, but the challenge for Anthony is to stay consistent and really understand all the nuances and adjustments it takes from a coverage standpoint. I think 75 percent of the time he’s a great player for us at that spot. The other 25 percent of the time we’ve got to get him locked in and continually get better. He’s come a long way, though.”
— Asked if there’s a format yet for the spring game, he said no: “We’ll just take a body count on (next) Tuesday night after our hitting is done and see how many available bodies we’ve got and we’ll figure something out.”
— WRs Jordan Polk and D’Andre Goodwin continue to sit out with hamstring injuries. Otherwise, the team seems pretty healthy, though S Nate Fellner sat out some of practice, as well (we didn’t get a report on that). LB Brandon Huppert, recovering from a knee injury suffered against USC, is getting more work and CB Desmond Trufant also was in full pads today getting a little more work.
— Practice ended with a 30-yard TD run or so from Deontae Cooper and Johri Fogerson also had about a 30-yard run during the team period, for a couple of offensive highlights.
— UW will practice again on Thursday at 4 p.m.