What may be one of the number one things fans want to know as the Huskies go through spring drills — what’s the depth chart? — is one of the few things UW coach Steve Sarkisian doesn’t want to really talk about.
Specifically, Sarkisian says there is no depth chart this time of year, that every spot is up for grabs.
Surely, that’s not a completely literal statement — hard to envision a scenario where Jake Locker isn’t the team’s starting QB or guys like Mason Foster and Nate Williams don’t start on defense.
But it’s in keeping with the overall philosophy of competition in everything — every drill, every practice, every meeting.
“All the coaches are fair,” said UW cornerback Quinton Richardson (pictured last year against batting down a pass). “Whoever keeps making plays is going to be in there.”
Richardson has cause to know. He began last year in the starting lineup, starting the first six games of the season, then lost his job to redshirt freshman Adam Long. That led to the inevitable wondering of how Richardson was handling his demotion to a player a year younger.
Richardson says he took it as the coaches would have wanted — as a challenge. And as spring practice nears its final third — the team is through 10 of 15 practices — Richardson is again running with the starting unit, usually opposite Vonzell McDowell. Desmond Trufant is limited with a groin injury, making it a little hard to read exactly who is where. But coaches make it clear that Richardson has played well enough this spring to be considered a starter at the moment.
“Quinton, specifically, has done some nice things,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said last Saturday. “. … I like the fact that Q’s competitive nature is a lot higher, as is Vonzell’s. They understand that you really have to compete to win the one-on-one battles to play real man-to-man coverage, which we want to do more of. I think they just both keep getting better.”
Says Richardson: “I feel like everything is going pretty well. I’m still spending time with the ones. I feel like I’m doing my job and doing better than last spring, and that’s the most important thing right now is growing and getting better.”
Asked what he’s doing better, Richardson said: “Just reading receivers, quarterbacks, breaking (on the ball), pad level and making sure I stay low and making sure I’m getting more in the film room. Taking care of the little things and just making the extra effort.”
He admits now that he lacked in some of those areas in the past and says now he has no one to blame but himself for losing his starting job last season.
“It was just a lack of concentration,” he said. “I didn’t keep a straight head, that’s all it was. This year, that’s all I’ve got to work on is staying consistent. The most important thing about being a starter is staying consistent, making plays and doing your job, so that’s my main focus rirght now is doing my job and making sure I keep making plays and doing everything right.”
Richardson was also bothered by an ankle injury but says he can’t put too much on that ailment.
“I’m sure it did (slow him down),” he said. “But it was on me. There’s no excuses on this team. Your time is what you make of it, so I’ve just got to make an extra effort to keep making plays.”
When he was benched last year, he said he never got down on himself or the team.
“Not at all,” he said. “I stayed strong as a player. I still came out to play football. That’s all that really matters. I’m doing my job now and that’s my main focal point now is just doing my job and getting better.”
Coaches have cited him for his conditioning this spring, and Richardson said that while he’s still at the same 205 as last season, “I’m in better shape. … I feel like I got slimmer and better mobility-wise. I’m just moving better, I would say.”
He showed some of that mobility Tuesday when he picked off a Locker pass and returned it for a touchdown, a sequence Sarkisian called the Play of the Day on his Daily Top Five.
“I’m just working on tackling, and playing the receiver better, getting knockdowns and interceptions,” said Richardson, a graduate of O’Dea High in Seattle. “Those are all good keys to being a corner, so I’m ujust trying to work on being great.”