The Huskies were still a day away from putting on full pads and doing some real, live hitting Thursday — that won’t come until Friday.
But at times, the players seemed ready to go it anyway, a couple of brief skirmishes dotted through a two-hour practice.
“Yeah, it’s getting a little hot. It’s training camp, and guys are sweating and they are a little sore,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. “Those little skirmishes are going to kick up. Dust is going to kick up. But I was proud of the other guys involved. If you noticed, not one coach had to step in to break those skirmishes up. The players went in, they got guys separated. And what I thought was good, as soon as practice was over a couple of the guys that were in the skirmishes went right up to each other and gave ’em a hug. And we’ll move on. What happens on this field stays on the field.”
As noted earlier, again there were no significant injuries, with the only new ache a bruised knee that forced DE Talia Crichton to sit out for a the team period.
That, however, allowed true freshman Hau’oli Jamora to see some sigificant time in his place, and he continued to impress the coaching staff.
“If we were playing today, he’d be playing like he did today,” Sarkisian said. “If something happened, or if we were mixing guys or rolling guys, he would definitely be in the mix. He would be playing.”
Much of the team period was spent on situational plays, largely third-and-longs, so if you were there, you saw a lot of nickel defense and passing.
It looked to be a pretty good day for the quarterbacks. I had Jake Locker completing seven straight passes at one point, while Nick Montana had the play of the day when he hit fellow true frosh DiAndre Campbell on about a 50-yard pass down the middle of the field. Keith Price also appeared to be more accurate than he has been earlier, hitting Michael Hartvigson in stride on a nice rollout at one point.
Said Sarkisian: “I think they are settling down. And I think we’ll only see that continue to improve over camp. The first two days…I hate to say that it’s easy, but they really know that stuff well. The third day, traditionally, is the really tough day in the red zone, and the fourth day they start to grow. They hit some balls today, there were still a few that we missed with guys open. But in time, that’s why we’re in training camp, we’ll continue to get better with that and our pocket presence will get better. We’ll complete more balls.”
Jordan Polk might have had the best day of the receivers, at one point leaping high to make a grab of a Locker pass.
Said Sarkisian, assessing the receiver spot, especially the backups: “A lot of guys made plays today. I’ve been real pleased with D’Andre Goodwin. I think he’s been making some plays. Jordan Polk had a drop kind of early in the team period but came back and made a couple of plays after that. I’ve been impressed with those guys. Kevin Smith has been a kid that’s really showed up too, and it was great to see DiAndre Campbell catch a deep ball today. I’m not as concerned as to who is going to be the fourth wideout right now. I’m just pleased with the group and the way they are playing.”
As noted, the team will put on full pads for the first time Friday, and that will likely lead to a bit more emphasis on the running game.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Thought it happened two months ago, Sarkisian was finally asked today about Locker being named to the Playboy All-American Team. “That’s a pretty good honor, lifetime achievement award. He’s got that one forever. To me, it’s like all those other pre-season All-American things that are out there, and that’s just one of them. But I think for us and for everyone involved, I hope he’s the post-season All-American quarterback. That one is a little more important.”
— The starting OL remains the same as it has throughout camp, going left to right — Senio Kelemete, Ryan Tolar, Drew Schaefer, Mykenna Ikehara and Cody Habben.
— The DL was varied a bit today, likely in part because of the nature of what they were working on, with Cameron Elisara often back at DT alongside Alemeda Ta’amu. Ta’amu, however, has been the one constant starter at that nose guard spot in whatever defense the Huskies are running. Said Sarkisian: “Even when there is double-teams, he’s splitting them and making plays. He’s a real force. We’ve been challenging him to be…obviously he’s stepped his game up as a run-stopper, but he’s a talented pass-rusher. You see it on one-on-ones, and so we’ve really tried to challenge him in the pass game to be an effective pass rusher as well. And if you noticed him today he had a couple of nice rushes, especially on third down.”
— Sarkisian also said he’s been impressed by true frosh DE Andrew Hudson, who got lots of work with the twos today (and I think even with the ones a time or two): “I’ve been very proud of him. He’s such a great kid, he’s always smiling. You almost think he’d be too nice, but when he plays, he plays extremely physical. He’s strong. I’ve been impressed with him. As we keep moving forward, how his body can hang and hold up to the pounding of playing at that spot will be critical. But he’s done some pretty good things and opened the eyes of not only his position coaches, but everyone involved.”
— Kalani Aldrich got some sigificant work with the ones at DE as well (they were really rotating those guys) but Everrette Thompson has yet to see the field during team drills.
— The starting LBs have also been constant so far with Cort Dennison at MLB, Mason Foster at WLB and Victor Aiyewa at WLB (though the latter spot remains in heavy competition with Matt Houston also contending there, and that one may not be decided for a while. LB coach Mike Cox said he’s also been impressed by some of the newcomers. “I’ve been impressed by our young guys. Garret Gilliland the last couple of days has impressed me. Brandon Huppert has done a solid job coming back from the knee injury. Princeton Fuimaono, Victor Burnett, Cooper Pelluer and Jamaal Kearse are all going to be solid guys for us, as well.” Huppert (MLB), Wallace (WLB) and Houston appeared to be the backup today.
— Quinton Richardson looked a lot better today after battling back spasms and got a lot of work with the No. 1 defense.
— Here’s Sarkisian on what he wants to see with the full pads going on for the first time Friday: “We’re going to see us play football a little bit tomorrow. But to me, you guys have watched us practice enough; whether we’re in full pads or half pads we’re playing football at a pretty high tempo and a pretty good intensity. There will be a couple of opportunities to really play tomorrow, but for the most part it’s going to look pretty similar.”
— Here’s video of the interview of Foster in which he explains why he had “Buenas Noches” on his eye black today. He says it’s to give the RBs “a kiss good night.”
And with that, I’ll also say good night for now.