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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 17, 2010 at 7:23 PM

Scrimmage wrapup — starters dominate

As I wrote in the lead to my story for the paper on today’s scrimmage, if UW coach Steve Sarkisian needed any affirmation that he has the right players on the No. 1 offense and defense, he got it quickly Tuesday.
The No. 1 offense drove easily for scores on both of its possessions against the No, 1 defense, while the No. 1 defense easily stopped the No. 2 offense on three possessions — allowing a first down on one drive, and three-and-outs on the other, 15 yards on 11 plays total. Then each took a seat, the rest of the scrimmage devoted to the younger players.
Said Sarkisian: “I thought all in all the day went well. We took the approach of a first preseason NFL game, with our starters somewhat limited reps. Our first offense went two series, our first defense went three series. I thought both of them played extremely well: efficient football. But the real key to this day was to see the young kids play.”
Here are more of Sarkisian’s comments:
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There was very little to really complain about the first units, as the stats detailed in the early entry should show. Jake Locker was efficient and turned in two big passing plays; Chris Polk got a little full-contact work and looked just like a year ago, when he rushed for 1,113 yards; the No. 1 line looked dominating; WRs Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar turned in big plays; and the No. 1 defense hardly gave up any ground. The only first down against the No. 1 defense was a nine-yard run by Johri Fogerson.
Sarkisian said the starters will get more work when the team scrimmages again on Saturday, but that the offense has shown how well it is performing daily in practice and it was best to let the young players go at it today.
Said Sarkisian of the starting offense: “There’s so much continuity. We’re about to make adjustments on the fly with these guys. They’ve played so much together. The quarterback and the wideouts are really working well together. They understand each other extremely well, the offensive linemen understand each other extremely well. So it’s not about pounding them and getting them so many different looks. It’s about making sure we’re on point, making sure we’re efficient, we’ve got good tempo, good urgency to the line of scrimmage and playing good fast football.”
They seemed to have all of that today.
The starting OL was the same as it has been all camp, going left to right — Senio Kelemete, Ryan Tolar, Drew Schaefer, Mykenna Ikehara and Cody Habben.
Locker said today was more proof that the line has a chance to be dominating.
“Yeah, they’re very comfortable with each other I think,” he said. “They have worked together in the past, I think now having some of that experience along with the spring and the fall, now I think they;re doing really well and making a lot of the calls and adjustments that need to be made to be really successful, and I think that’s what they did today. …I expect them to be a very dominant line for us, I think they’ll be able to establish the run, give us a good pocket to throw from and be the foundation of our offense.”
If there was a revelation today, it’s that there appears to be a pretty significant gap between the the starters and the backups at certain spots — which probably makes sense with a team that has a lot of returning starters, but overall is predominantly young in its roster makeup.
Defensive coordinator Nick Holt said it was good to match the backups against the starters: “That’s how they get good, that’s how they get better. And they better learn quickly or they are going to get their butts kicked. I think it’s good for those guys to learn how to compete and get tougher and be more physical against the older vets. I think it’s a good situation. I’m glad we did some of that today.”
The tone for the way the starting defense would dominate was set on the first play when Talia Crichton blew past left tackle Erik Kohler for a sack of Keith Price. Victor Aiyewa then blew past the line to stop Fogerson for a two-yard loss to kill the second series. On the third, Nate Williams powered through for a two-yard loss of Demitrius Bronson to kill that drive.
There were no real surprises in the depth chart for either side. The only change on offense was due to injury, as D’Andre Goodwin stepped in for James Johnson, out with a sprained ankle.
The No. 1 defense consisted of Crichton and De’Shon Matthews at ends, Cameron Elisara, Alameda Ta’amu and Semisi Tokolahi at tackles, Aiyewa, Cort Dennison and Mason Foster at linebacker, Williams and Will Shamburger at safety, and Desmond Trufant and Quinton Richardson at cornerback.
After three series, the rest of the scrimmage was devoted to the younger players.
Of most interest there may be the battle for the backup QB job between redshirt frosh Price and true freshman Nick Montana.
Statistically, it was almost a dead heat as Price was 11-17 for 130 yards and a touchdown, a 70-yarder to Cody Bruns; while Montana was 14-20 for 123 yards and one TD, an eight-yarder to DiAndre Campbell.
If Sarkisian is leaning either way on that one, he didn’t give it away in his comments, saying “I thought the two quarterbacks, the two young guys once they settled in, did some nice things for us.”
Sarkisian said he wanted to devote so much time to the younger players to get as much information as possible to begin making decisions about who plays and who redshirts.
However, he said it will be another week or so before that really clears up, Saturday’s scrimmage being another chance to get a real good look at the youngsters.
Asked to name a few of the young players who stood out, Sarkisian mentioned safety Sean Parker, receiver Kevin Smith and running back Zach Fogerson, who has largely been used as a fullback until now but got some extensive work at tailback in the scrimmage, gaining 21 yards on seven carries including a three-yard TD to conclude the scoring.
Defensive coordinator Nick Holt also singled out Parker, the four-star recruit who chose UW over Michigan and USC on signing day and appears to be living up to the billing, as well as safety Taz Stevenson and defensive ends Hau’oli Jamora and Josh Shirley.
— Also out were two backup safeties who suffered sprained ankles Monday night —- Justin Glenn and Greg Walker. Neither injury appears serious.

Kalani Aldrich got some significant work with the No. 2 defense and appears on track to returning to make a contribution this season.
— There was lots of special teams work, and there were no real surprises among the returners. Devin Aguilar, Johri Fogerson and Desmond Trufant handled punts, in that order. Jesse Callier and Kevin Smith handled kickoffs, a job that could fall to Chris Polk, as well.
— Punter Will Mahan had a good day, booming his first two punts 55 yards.
— The backup WRs were Bruns, Jordan Polk and walk-on William Chandler or Smith.
— The No. 2 OL was, left to right, Kohler, Nick Wood, Greg Christine, Skyler Fancher or Colin Porter and Daniel Kanczugowski.
— They didn’t keep official stats for sacks, but I had Cooper Pelluer, who continues to play well, with two, and Crichton, Andrew Hudson and Jamora with one each.
— There were no turnovers.
— It did get a little sloppy in the late going with a handful of penalties (the scrimmage was officiated by some regular Pac-10 refs, led by Jay Stricherz — who as Bud Withers detailed a few years ago, isn’t afraid to throw flags). But as Sarkisian noted, most of those involved young players.
— Asked about the flags, Sarkisian said: “That wasn’t the thing that excited me the most. That was a lot of our young guys. We were a little jittery up front. So we had some false starts and a delay of game and some of that is expected, but we’ll work on cleaning that up. And there were a couple of things down the field in the passing game that I think there were some young guys who maybe panicked when the ball was in the air. We’ll adjust it and hopefully as we move forward the anxiety won’t quite be there about what’s next, I know what I’m doing and I can play.” The pass interference penalty came on Anthony Boyles, who also had a chance at an interception but dove and couldn’t quite pick off a tipped pass.
— The Price to Bruns TD came on a play where Bruns broke to the sideline about 20 yards downfield or so, caught the ball and then raced down the sideline. Bruns beat Adam Long and Marquis Persley on the play.
— Asked later if he had any thoughts on the move of Kavario Middleton to Nebraska, Sarkisian said: “Not really. I wish him luck.”
— Asked about concerns, Sarkisian said: “Not really. I thought our ones and special teams looked good. The punt game the kick game kickoff wise. I think we still have some work to do on kickoff return a little bit and punt return, but those are generally the last two teams that work their way up. Those things well continue to work on. And I thought No. 10 was great. For two series he was on point all the way through it.”
— Asked about using Zach Fogerson at tailback, Sarkisian said: “He’s the kind of back that can put a pounding on you and he did it (in the scrimmage). That last touchdown run he had, he ran over a couple of guys getting in. … When you look at our backs, we don’t have a real 230-235 guy who can really thump you, and he has the potential to do that. We’re just in the infancy stage of looking at him.”
— Asked about pending redshirt decisions, Sarkisian said the focus will be solely on helping the 2010 team win: “I can’t worry aobut five years right now. I’m worried about our 2010 football team and what gives us the best chance to win. I think we’d be foolish to ruin a guys year for two snaps. But if a kid can help us all year long on special teams and as a backup on one side or the ball of the other, it’s worth playing them.”
— Asked if there were any decisions, he said: “Not yet. We won’t make anything definitive on those issues until next week. We’ve got anther scrimmage on Saturday, but I think were beginning to get a decent idea of who can help.”
— And of the injuries to Walker and Glenn, he said: “Both of them are ankles. Justin was the ankle that he had injured. It’s not serious, but it was the same ankle. And Greg Walker sprained his ankle. So we’ve got now three sprained ankles: we added James Johnson to that list. Ankles are hard to tell. They’re not serious in that its not something that is season-threatening or could last months, but it’s the guys own body and how he reacts to it and really I guess his own pain threshold is what it is.”
— UW will have two practices tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.



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