A practice Thursday that marked the end of the first third of UW’s spring workouts was also the most physical to date, in the eyes of Husky coach Steve Sarkisian.
“I thought it was a physical practice, our most physical one yet,” he said of workout five of 15 UW will hold this spring. “It was a good practice in the sense that we practiced so many special situations. Whether it be no-huddle offense, to red zone, to third downs, to sudden change after a turnovers. We focused on a lot of the special situations – but yet what I enjoyed about the practice is that our guys weren’t enamored with the special situations and thinking about that. They still played fast, physical football. And all in all it was a very competitive day, a good day. It was good all the way around.”
The level of intensity was evident early in the final team session when center Drew Schaefer appeared to draw a personal foul for a late hit on linebacker Garret Gilliland after Gilliland picked off a tipped Nick Montana pass. Schaefer spent the rest of practice watching while backup Daniel Kanczugowski handled the snapping duties.
The team period ended with a few full-contact drives. Keith Price concluded one with a 6-yard TD run after earlier rushing for 18 yards on a third-down play to keep the drive alive. That was the only TD of the four drives, two each led by Price and Montana.
Unofficially, during the entire team period session, Price was 5-9 for 40 yards and Montana 6-9 for 45 yards and the one interception.
Defensive highlights included a sack by Talia Crichton of Montana to help stall one drive, and a hard tackle by Thomas Tutogi of Zach Fogerson to stop him short on a third-and-five run on the last play of the day.
There were no apparent new injuries, and as noted earlier, Austin Seferian-Jenkins (thigh) and OLs Colin Porter and Ben Riva (each flu) — who all missed all or part of Tuesday’s practice — were all back.
Seferian-Jenkins was a standout during an early 7-on-7 drill catching a couple touchdowns on lobs into the end zone, continuing to give the offense a dimension it didn’t have last season.
“He continues to improve,” Sarkisian said. “I’ve been really impressed. For us, these first five days of installation are never very easy. And for a kid whose a week and a half into school now, and playing college football and all of the things that are going on, moving away from home – he’s really handled it with a real sense of maturity. He’s a bright kid, but he’s very mature. He’s not too emotional, one way or another. All in all, he’s performing at a very high level.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Among recuits present were RB Keivarae Russell of Mariner High in Everett and lineman Nathan Dean of Juanita. And among 2011 signees who were there were Dexter Charles, Bishop Sankey and Evan Zeger. Also there were Pete Carroll and Joe Montana and his wife.
— Kevin Smith seems like he’d be the No. 3 WR if the season began today (though obviously, that could change greatly when Kasen Williams arrives) and continues to impress with his play. “What I like about him is that he’s an extremely physical kid,” Sarkisian said. “When you see him he’s got a strong build to him. He’s got tremendous hands…jumping ability…strong. I also like the fact that his upside is so great. He’s still new and raw to the position, so all those nuances he talks about, every day he picks up one, and another, and another. As the days go on, he continues to improve. It’s very encouraging.” Smith, though, was the receiver who got hit hard across the middle on the tipped pass that Gilliland picked off.
— Chris Polk wasn’t out there much during the team session and Sarkisian said that was on purpose: “I’m just trying to limit the hits on him. He’s proven what he can do in live tackling situations.”
— Zach Fogerson got lots of work once again. “We’re just seeing what he can do,” Sarkisian said. “We’re trying to gather as much information as we can about what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are, where we can improve him. He’s a really talented kid, and he’s got a lot to his game. If we can continue to expand his role, it’s pretty taxing on a defense when he’s in there because he does so many different things.”
— Asked how dynamic the offense could be with a fullback, Sarkisian said: “It’s a real threat, especially down here in the red zone, which was a big focus for us today. I think it’s the addition of the fullback and the tight end. If you noticed in our 7-7 period, I think Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) caught a couple of touchdowns down there. Those targets are big for us, where you have to defend all five players, and not just a couple of wide outs that are there.”
— Asked further about Seferian-Jenkins’ challenge picking up the offense, Sarkisian said: “”Of course he’s swimming. We just continue to coach. We view as teachers and educators first, coaches second, and we have to continue to teach and educate. The thing about Austin, what’s encouraging to me, is that he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He takes to good coaching, and we’re appreciative of that. We’re appreciative of the effort that he gives. He’s a real ‘try hard’ guy.”
— If you were there, you might have seen Cort Dennison catch a few passes during individual drills — it’s also visible on the video I posted earlier. Sarkisian said: “That’s just in quarterback drills, him catching some balls. We try to make a point, we’re trying to do a better job of if you are not in the special teams for that day to be part of something. And that something a lot of times happens to be quarterback drills, so they get involved that way. … They get to catch balls. They love it.”
— Sarkisian said one young DL standing out is Lawrence Lagafuaina: “I think Lawrence looks great. He’s the lightest he has been since we’ve had him, he’s down under 320 now. He’s playing quick, which is what we thought he could be. And he’s getting better, and that’s a tough position. Look at how long it took (Alameda Ta’amu) to get to where he’s at, and so I thought Lawrence was really good today. He had 2-3 good tackles in the backfield, showing his quickness, and it would be great to be able to spell Alameda and be able to rotate those guys a little bit and have a real force to come in and keep Meda fresh so he can be dominant player in the fourth quarter as well. So I’ve been very encouraged by Lawrence.”
— He said Lagafuaina is roughly 315 pounds, down from a listed 344 a year ago: “He looks good right now. I think he will continually get stronger as he matures and as he grows so that that body weight will change some and it might fluctuate a little higher and come back down. But if we can hover it around 320 I think that would be good.”
— Here’s what he said the team may do in Saturday’s 11 a.m. workout: “Similar to today. We’ll have a lot of scrimmage settings, but it won’t just be an outright straight scrimmage. We’ll break it up some because there is going to be some periods where I want the guys that are in red jerseys right now to be able to practice and not just be stuck standing on the side watching, they’ll be involved.”
— UW has now gone inside two straight practices due to the weather. Sarkisian said the team may be back outside Saturday: “We’ll look at it. But it looks like it’s going to be pretty nice Saturday so we’ll probably be back out there. We’ll see. Today the thought was there was some potential for rain and whatnot and there were some things we really wanted to get taught today that were new to us that I really didn’t want the distraction of the weather right now.”
— CoachSark’s blog noted that he dropped into a class today. He explained later why: “I try to do it at minimum once a week, sometimes a couple of times a week. I think it’s important to have a presence on upper campus, not only for our current players but for our student body to know that we are student-athletes and not just football players and take pride in that and so went to Comm 202 today. It’s a good class.”
— On why he sneaks into classes: “I sneak in initially because I want the feeling to see who we are and make sure we are representing what we want to represent and how we represent. But then I want them to make sure the word gets out that they know I am on upper campus so it’s kind of two-fold that way.”
— He also said such tactics have helped class attendance: “Oh, we are through the roof right now. What is exciting for me, in my humble opinion, who we are on the field really works hand in hand with who we are off the field. What’s exciting for me is to watch our GPA go up as our wins go up and our level of play goes up because I think if we are the people that we are on the football field the same people that we are on the class room if we are really competing at it and caring about it and working to be successful at it on a very competitive campus as we all know, we have to battle, we have to compete. And our guys have done that. And through it all the results are there and they are able to take that same mentality on the football field and that same preparation for football, and in turn we are reaping the benefits, we all are, we are getting it done in the classroom and on the field.”
All for now.