This was destined to be a different kind of week for the Huskies, anyway, with the Thanksgiving holiday smack dab in the middle of preparing for Cal, and having to leave on the trip the next day.
Then the snow storm (or Arctic Blast!!!! as the TV networks called it) altered it even more, causing UW to shut down classes on Tuesday and Wednesday. It also meant a few of the coaches spent Monday night sleeping in their offices to avoid the traffic jams outside.
With no classes the last two days, UW practiced at 2 p.m., today going in the Dempsey Indoor to assure solid preparation away from the frozen field of Husky Stadium.
And UW coach Steve Sarkisian said that maybe the changes of the week might help the Huskies.
He said that practices “have been good, been spirited., There’s something about the weather, being the way it is, they haven’t been in school and really been able to focus on the game and the game plan, so we are seeing some of the benefits of that in practice, guys are really being able to lock in.”
The practice today also featued the positive sight for the Huskies of nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu back in uniform after sitting out Tuesday with a sprained ankle. He did everything today and Sarkisian said later that “I would be surprised if he couldn’t go” against Cal.
QB Jake Locker also participated fully and there’s no real doubt about his status this week.
Said Sarkisian: “I think there’s still some things lingering. But he feels much better than he has.”
What Sarkisian said he meant byt that is watching to see how Locker reacts if “he gets hit here and there, some movement things. We watch him every snap, very closely.”
Locker had another X-ray this week that showed the broken rib is healing, Sarkisian said. Technically, Sarkisian said Locker has yet to be cleared to play this week but that “it’s not as big of an issue because when they look at he x-ray it’s healing. It has improved from last week.”
So to cut through all that, there’s little real question of Locker’s status for this week.
However, guard Ryan Tolar seems questionable at best as he sat out again Wednesday with a sprained knee.
“It’s limited his mobility some,” Sarkisian said. “I think most likely it’ll be a game-time decision. But he’s such a veteran guy that he could show up in the game and be pretty productive. So we’ll see how he feels on game day before we make a decision.”
If Tolar can’t go true freshman Erik Kohler will start in his place. That would again have Kohler and fellow true frosh Colin Porter again in the starting lineup. But unlike in the Stanford game, they would each be at guard, so on different sides of the line, instead of side-by-side at guard and tackle.
“They’ll be on opposite sides,” Sarkisian said. “They’re with veteran guys, so they should be OK.”
Kohler is also just about back to 100 percent after the bout with mono that sidelined him for a few weeks last month.
“Yeah, he’s fine now,” Sarkisian said. “At some point, when you lose all that weight, your strength can be down some. But all in all, he’s fine.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Sarkisian was asked a couple of questions about the future of the QB spot and said that while Keith Price has been the backup this year that the competition will be “wide open” in the spring. “I feel good about it, and I’ve felt good about it,” he said. “This is going to be good competition amongst Keith and Nick (Montana) when we head into spring ball — that will probably carry on into fall camp, to really give those guys a fair evaluation and grow into the system. But they’re both very talented guys. They’re both extremely bright and athletic, and I expect real good things out of them.”
— Asked about Cal’s running game, he said: “There’s no doubt you’ve got to stop the run. But you’ve also got to stop their gimmicks. They run a lot of reverses, they run a lot of fly plays. And then you have to stay on top because (QB Brock) Mansion can really throw the deep ball. And they do throw the ball well down the field schematically. So there are some things; you can’t just sell out for the run. We have to make sure we’re there on the deep ball and cover the reverses and the fly hooks.”
— And of Cal’s defense, he said: “They’re good up front. That’s the strength of their defense, the front seven – no doubt. … They’re a 3-4 base team. Their three defensive linemen are big, strong guys. And they set the edge nicely with (Mychal) Kendricks and (Keith) Browner. So they’re very good up front.”
— He also said he likes the way the defense has played the last few weeks, similar to last year when it finished spring: “Oh yeah. I think that happens naturally. Hopefully as the years go here they grow together as a unit quicker than they have these first two seasons. But it’s similar to what happened last year, we got better as the year went on, and we are seeing it again this year. We are playing faster, I think we are really believing in calls. So hopefully as our kids grow in the system we will start seasons this way and not just have to always end them this way.”
— He was also asked if he thinks Locker could replicate his game of last year against Cal: “I don’t know. I think we can always expect something like that out of him because he’s that talented of a guy, but we need to play well as a team for him to be able to play that way. … He’s not 100 percent, that’s for sure. He was healthy for that game last year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of that.”
— Here is a practice report from Cal today, as well as a list of Cal-related links.