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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 9, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Saturday practice report

College football Saturdays, with tens of thousands of spectators in the stands and marching bands playing, can seem a little chaotic on the field.

So UW coach Steve Sarkisian figures the best way to prepare his players for those 12-13 Saturdays it make practice a little chaotic at times, as well.

And so it was today, the Huskies throwing in a no-huddle drill into the middle of practice (something Sarkisian said prior to the spring would be a change this year) and at times mixing up position groupings.

“I like to create a little bit of chaos for them and see who responds and who can remain focused yet upbeat and energetic or who gets frazzled,” Sarkisian said. “So it’s constant evaluation even though it looks a little chaotic.”

That included having Nick Montana and Keith Price take turns running the one and two offense during the final full-contact team session that concluded practice.

“We chart every snap,” said offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. “So we keep a running chart to make sure we are getting an equal number of snaps and doing as good a job as we can to make sure they are working with different groups and see how they work within those groups.”

The QB competition remains officially wide open, though Price usually takes the first snap in drills with Montana following.

Each had their moments in today’s workout, the sixth of 15 this spring for UW.

Unofficially, Montana was 4-8 for 78 yards and a touchdown — the only score of the six drives during the full-contact session — while Price was 4-7 for 53 yards.

Montana’s TD came on a 15-yard pass to Johri Fogerson out of the backfield, as he caught the ball near the sideline then turned and raced into the end zone against the No. 2 defense. The star of the drive, though, was redshirt freshman WR DiAndre Campbell, who had receptions for 19 and 26 yards to get the offense into scoring position. (And that should signify that this might have been the best practice of the spring for Campbell).

Otherwise, the defense seemed to get the better of it.

That was in part because starting left tackle Senio Kelemete was on the bench after fully tearing his already ailing plantar fascia in his foot. While that sounds ominous, Sarkisian explained that it’s actually a step in the right direction to full health.

“No, it’s not concerning,” Sarkisian said. “What the injury is, he’s got his plantar fascia was pulled. And those things really never heal until they finally pop and then it heals 100 percent full and so you are hopeful really when you have a pulled one that it pops sooner rather than later and you can start the healing process. His finally popped so now his is really, truly on the mend instead of just playing through the pain he is actually now healing. So he might be out in the short term here through a few practices but the end result is that we will get a 100 percent healthy Senio. … It (the pop) happened today. We knew it was a matter of time, it never just goes away it will always have been there so it finally popped for him. It’s pretty painful. I’ve actually done it myself so I know what he was going through but the end result is that thing will heal 100 percent and it won’t be a lingering, nagging injury come fall camp. It will be 100 percent.”

That had Erik Kohler running primarily as the No. 1 left tackle, and he got beat a couple of times, once by Josh Shirley for a holding penalty that ended a drive, and another time for a sack of Price by Everrette Thompson.
Sarkisian also said he thought there were a few more mental errors by the QBs today than had been usual.

“I think they’ve both made steady climbs and have gotten better,” he said. “No day has been perfect and it never will be. I thought that we had a few more mental setbacks than we’ve had the first five days. For whatever reason, I’m not exactly sure, we have to figure that out, but there were a few more mental mistakes than they’ve had, but they’re both doing some really good things. I’ve been pleased, especially from the standpoint of we’re not turning the ball over and that’s one of the big keys at that position.”

There probably should have been one turnover as Montana threw an out right into the hands of Desmond Trufant, who simply dropped it.

Chris Polk also sat out the final session (simply to avoid taking any more hits than he needs) so that had others taking the carries. Zach Fogerson got the most, gaining 19 yards on seven attempts and also picking up a fourth-and-one, though also being stuffed on a short yardage play early on by Cort Dennison.

IN OTHER NEWS. …

— Kelemete’s was the only apparent injury.

— The hit of the day might have come from backup safety Will Shamburger, who leveled Zach Fogerson during the final team session, drawing am audible cheer of delight from former teammate Mason Foster up in the stands.

— The tight ends caught only one pass during the final team session (a 17-yarder to Evan Hudson). But both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Michael Hartvigson had nice in-traffic grabs during earlier 11-on-11 sessions, again indicating how much of an impact that spot could have this year. Said Sarkisian: “It showed up again today. It’s really unique. We keep talking about it after every practice. It hasn’t changed. Those guys are making their plays whether it’s Austin (Seferian-Jenkins) or Michael (Hartvigson) or Evan Hudson or Marlion Barnett, they’re making their plays and it’s making us a more complete offense. I’m sure there might be some that would think we aren’t throwing it to Jermaine (Kearse) enough or Devin (Aguilar) enough or Kevin (Smith) enough, but that will come in time. We’re still figuring out who we are as an offense and how much we can do at that position.”

— Asked how much having dangerous TEs to throw to will help the young QBs, Sarkisian said: “When you have a big target like that and you can throw the ball in-between the hashes, especially in this stadium on days when it can be windy and rainy and you have those throws right in front of you, over the middle, it can be a quarterback’s best friend and so it’s been an emphasis for us and a focus for us.”

— Sarkisian further elaborated that the emergence of the tight ends is allowing for more of the playbook to come into action, saying that last year “there was a lot — a great deal” that was left out. “We are running a lot different stuff that probably not just in our eyes we could see but the general public can tell that too that it would almost appear at times like a different offense. The reality is we have had these plays but there was no point in putting them in and wasting everybody’s time if we couldn’t execute them.”

— Sarkisian also said he’s been impressed with their blocking: “Their blocking, in pass-protection, they’ve done a really good job and in the running game, it’s been good, but we’ll get better. So much of tight end blocking, especially when they’re big guys like that, is footwork and fundamentals and hand-placement and that’s where we get a little spotty, but I have to remind myself that Michael Hartvigson really missed the entire season. He had training camp, got hurt and missed that whole season of developing his fundamentals and Austin has been in college for two weeks, so many things come down to the nuances and the fundamentals of the spot that it takes time. All-in-all, I love their ability to compete and to battle. They’re tough physically and mentally, which is key, so I’ve been pleased with them blocking, but I know there is great room for improvement.”

— In fact, Sarkisian said that for all the hype sent ASJ’s way, he may be ahead of where the Huskies hoped: “I would say maybe a little. To think that he’s been in school for two weeks, he’s already had six college football practices, he’s moved out of his home, he’s living in dorm. I don’t think I could ask for anything more than he’s given us. He’s had a great demeanor about himself. I love how he presents himself. He’s mature. It just hasn’t been too big for him and that part of it is what is encouraging to me. I know he’s going to make some mistakes. We don’t think he’s going to be perfect, but it’s his approach to whether he makes a mistake or makes a great play, he’s steady, he doesn’t change and that’s what you want at that position.”

— Both Price and Montana said later they aren’t worrying much about which of them has the upper hand, leading one reporter to ask Sarkisian if there is any worry that they are too nice: “They’re both great guys; they’re both very competitive though so there’s a lot of ways to exude confidence and moxie and, I guess in today’s modern verbiage – Swag – there’s a way of doing all that and not being arrogant and I think they both have the ability to do that. That’s what makes a good leader and quarterback and all those things, so I don’t think they’re ‘too nice’ by any means.” (I’ll try to have more of what Price and Montana had to say a little later).

— Here was Sarkisian’s take on the execution of the no-huddle period: “It was a little sloppy comparatively to the last practice. I thought the last practice was a little better. It started kind sloppy and then it got going, but that’s going to take time when you are doing some new stuff like that and we will continue to evaluate it to see if it’s something we want. I know it’s excellent for our defense because we see so many no-huddle teams and to get the exposure to the uptempo and having to get lined up and communicated, so as we tinker with it on offense we will assess how effective it truly is. But I would like us to be a little more efficient with the mechanics of it. But for a second day I will live with it.”

— Sarkisian said the no-huddle could open up some options for the offense this fall: “I think there is something to be said about that, that depending on the down and distance if you are in it it and run a play on third down and you convert and first and 10 again and they were in nickel on the snap before and now you can stay in it and now you’ve got a tight end blocking that nickel DB, things of that nature, there are some advantages to it catching them in personnel groupings.”

— Here’s what he said the team will do now without Kelemete for a while: “It gives Erik Kohler an opportunity to get to a position at left tackle that he potentially he might be down the road. It also gives Micah Hatchie some more reps to get himself going. And it gives guys like (Colin) Tanigawa and (Ben) Riva a chance to be in there with the ones together when Kohler is over there at left tackle. It’s good experience for Erik. In a perfect world I’d love to have Senio out there but the reality of it is he’s played a lot of football and it’s okay if he’s not there and we can get those other guys some reps.”

— If you were there, you saw some discussion with the officials after the Trufant near-interception. Here’s what Sarkisian said was going on: “I wanted to talk about it because in my opinion even though he was running with the ball he never really had possession of the ball and so the officials came together and the one guy thought very clearly he never possessed the ball so we just did it. We treated it as if it was a replay. It really didn’t have an effect on the play because where it was recovered was really the same yard mark.”

— Finally, here was his assessment of the linebacker spot right now: “We are rolling them through pretty good. Obviously Cort is steady. Garret Gilliland is getting a ton of reps. (Jordan) Wallace is getting a ton of reps, Jamaal Kearse, (Thomas) Tutogi, (John) Timu. The challenge for these guys, like some of our younger offensive players, there is a lot going on right now. We are talking about installation on defense, installation on offense, we are talking about different segments of the game, talking about no-huddle, talking about all of the things that are going on, so they are doing some really good stuff, they are just making some mistakes. Ultimately the goal is to clean up those mistakes practice after practice so that we can really see who they are. Trhrough it all, I think they are playing pretty good. We are just trying to find some more consistency.”
All for now.

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