An obvious storyline today was Jake Locker, taking part in a college football spring pratice on the day he could have been in New York becoming maybe the first pick in the NFL Draft.
But Locker said the occasion gave him no second thoughts. “No,” he said. I’ve already told you guys. I have no regrets with the decision I made and I wont be thinking that I wish I could have been there no way.”
He had a few more things to say about the draft, however, and I wrote about for my story for the paper and web site (which you should be able to find here).
As for the practice today, it was a half-pads workout, though still lots of intensity and hitting.
It ended with an overtime session in which Locker led the No. 1 offense to a score against the No. 1 defense on a 14-yard pass to fullback Austin Sylvester. The No. 2 offense (with Keith Price at quarterback) was then stopped on a fourth down pass and the session ended there.
As mentioned in the previous entry, UW coach Steve Sarkisian said afterward that Chris Izbicki (pictured with James Johnson in a game last season) has taken a slight lead at the tight end spot ahead of Kavario Middleton. Izbicki spent the day working with the No. 1 unit, making a couple of nice catches on passes from Locker.
Here’s what Sarkisian said when asked who’s ahead at that spot: “I would probably, if I had to, give Chris a little bit of the nod there. I think Chris is playing really well. Not only blocking — he’s had some lapses catching the ball but for the most part he’s been consistent. But I think they’re both doing nice things.”
Getting improved blocking out of the tight end spot has been an emphasis this spring, an area where Izbicki appears to have the upper hand. Here’s what Sarkisian said about the TE blocking: “I think we’re getting better. What I like about it is our technique is a lot better than we were. Now becomes the really relentless effort — the technique’s there. Now it’s our ability to really play with great effort and finish in the run game is the next step.”
In the other big news of the day, Sarkisian also said this about the injury to Jesse Callier: “It’s a sprained PCL. So it’s pretty much precautionary as anything. He’ll be fine. It’s not serious. Unless he’s 100 percent, we’re not going to play him.”
And as also noted earlier, Daniel Kanczugowski, a walk-on from O’Dea, worked much of the day with the starting unit at right tackle with Skyler Fancher with the twos. That’s the spot where Cody Habben, sitting out this spring after having off-season shoulder surgery, would be starting if healthy.
Said Sarkisian: “We’re seeing what it looks like. Again, a lot of times you go against the same guy over and over, (so you mix it up) to see what does it look like when Danny has to block Talia (Crichton) per se, and what the speed is and how they react to the speed…and then also how they respond to the guy playing next to them, how’s that relationship, how is the communication of it? It’s just a matter of getting stuff on film so we can get a great evaluation, not only now but as we head into the off-season, to really look and study combinations and what guys do well.”
Sarkisian said the coaches will continue to experiment with other looks on the OL: “We mixed it up pretty good again. We got (Drew) Schaefer some work at right tackle, Mykenna (Ikehara) got some center work again…we mixed it up pretty good, allowing guys an opportunity to show what they could do at all the spots.”
Part of the mixing and matching is to increase the physicality of the line, which was a particular emphasis on Tuesday when the team had a full-padded practice. Asked how that practice looked on film, Sarkisian said: “I thought they tried to be physical. I don’t know if we necessarily knocked them off the ball and did everything we wanted to, but I thought we tried to be physical. And in turn it created some big plays for us, because when the defense allowed it to be there, we were able to knock guys out of gaps to create a couple of big plays. I think it’s coming, but it’s still definitely a work in progress.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— UW’s next practice is a scrimmage Saturday at 11 a.m. Here’s what Sarkisian said to expect: “We’ll probably go anywhere between 80 and 90 plays, somewhere in there. It’ll be a pretty hefty scrimmage. We’ll work one special team phase – kickoff return – to try and save our legs and not do all the phases of special teams. We’ll probably have some lengthy delays between series to get guys right. Hopefully we can get a fair amount of plays in.”
— PK Erik Folk has had an erratic spring, and missed a FG of 30 yards or so during a two-minute drill. But Sarkisian said he’s “not concerned. He had a good year last year and he wasn’t stellar last spring. This is an opportunity for those guys to work the battery combination. It’s not just the kicker; it’s the snap the place and the kick. And it takes time to find that rhythm. He’ll get it. He’ll be fine.”
— Asked to assess Locker’s spring, here’s what Sarkisian said: “I thought today was really one of his better days. He’s really trying to take his game to another level of understanding our scheme, our philosophies and really understanding defenses. And in time you can really over think maybe a little bit that way. But he hasn’t, he’s played football really well, I think he’s really again focusing on feeling comfortable in the pocket and throwing the football. We kind of haven’t unleashed him running the ball this spring. The emphasis has been on throwing the ball again. And when we get into fall camp we’ll get back into him using his legs more.”
— DT Alameda Ta’amu left late in practice with an elbow injury but Sarkisian said it wasn’t serious.
— Asked if WRs D’Andre Goodwin (hamstring) and Jordan Polk (concussion) will be back for Saturday’s scrimmage, Sarkisian said: “I’m hoping, they should be back. They should be back my now. It’s taking a little longer and it’s been frustrating. I’m hoping we can get them on film. Hopefully Saturday even. Come fall we are going to have two more young kids in here that are going to be getting a lot of reps.”