Even though Deontae Cooper (left) ran behind a makeshift offensive line (more on that later), it was difficult not to be impressed with the 6-1, 191-pound freshman running back who dazzled the 1,000 or so fans who turned out for today’s scrimmage.
After Cooper tore through the No. 1 and No. 2 defense for 114 yards and two touchdowns (52 and 29 yards) on 12 carries, I spoke to running back coach Joel Thomas who said he was unsure just how fast Cooper is. The Huskies will run the 40 and perform other tests after spring drills.
“I honestly don’t know what his 40 is,” Thomas said. “He can go from Point A to Point B pretty fast. I do know that.”
Most of the post-scrimmage talk was about Cooper. It’s impossible to know for certain how today’s performance and will carryover next fall.
Thomas said Cooper was a little overwhelmed in Week 2 and 3 during spring drills, but has reviewed a lot of video with coaches recently, which has seemed to help him on the field.
Thomas said Cooper should have confidence going into the summer.
“The terminology that kids have it gives you a little more swagger,” Thomas said. “As you’re out there practicing and working and everything. He should have every reason to have it right now.”
IN OTHER NEWS …
— It may not show up in the stats, but backup RB Johri Fogerson also had a nice day. He finished with just 15 yards on five carries, but he also had most of a 36-yard run negated because of a holding penalty.
(Sarkisian on Fogerson) “I think Johri has had a nice week. If you go back to Tuesday and maybe even last Saturday, he’s put together 3-4 really good practices in a row. He’s playing physical. He’s running the ball well. He’s pass protected. Those two guys are doing and unfortunately we didn’t have Jesse (Callier) and I don’t know if we’ll have him the rest of the spring. But those two guys have been extremely impressive.”
— Considering the windy conditions, it’s fairly impressive Jake Locker completed 11-of-22 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
— His backups, however, had great difficulty with the conditions and the No. 2 defense. Redshirt freshman Keith Price salvaged what might have been disappointing performance while completing four of his final six passes on the last drive. He finished six completions on 10 attempts and 84 yards.
Meanwhile, freshman Nick Montana struggled throughout the morning and afternoon. He connected on just 3 of 10 passes for 21 yards. Several of Montana’s failed to reach a receiver, but a few were on target and dropped.
(Sarkisian on the backup quarterbacks) “Well I know this much if they can throw the ball today, they can play in the Meadowlands. It was windy. It’s challenging and it’s hard. It’s hard for a fifth-year senior to throw in this stuff nevermind a couple of freshmen kids. I thought they fought through. This stuff was not easy today, but that’s part of the growing and learning curve.”
— Receiver Jermaine Kearse picked up most of his 103 receiving yards after the catch on crossing routes. He hauled in six passes and a 28-yard touchdown reception from Locker.
— Devin Aguilar (3 catches, 33 yards) dropped a pass from Locker and Jordan Polk (1 catch, -3 yards) also dropped a few passes. Luther Leonard (3 catches, 44 yards) hooked up with Price on the final drive.
— Walk-on Daniel Kanczugowski started the scrimmage as the starting right tackle ahead of Skyler Fancher and Sarkisian said: “Just wanted to see him. Get him some work out there.”
— Drew Schaefer started at center and Gregory Christine was the No. 2 center.
(Sarkisian on if he’s worried about the offensive line shuffles) “Not yet. And we won’t really try to. Maybe by next Friday night we will. We’re trying to get as much evidence and information on film as we can so that we can make a really good evaluation and not one on hunch and not one on I think it’s going to be this way. Let’s see what it looks like.”
— Sarkisian said he was pleased the offense did not commit a turnover.
— Defensive coordinator Nick Holt said he’d like to get Alvin Logan, who is making the switch from WR to LB, more plays next week.
— LB Mason Foster nearly intercepted a Locker pass, however, the defensive standouts were on the No. 2 team. LB Matt Houston had two sacks.
— There were no significant injuries. S Nate Fellner sat out with a knee injury and DT Alameda Ta’amu did not practice due to academic reasons. Sarkisian said he may return next week “if he takes care of his business.”
— The Huskies ran 78 plays. They’re off until Tuesday and the spring game is 6:30 p.m. Friday.