With a full-scale scrimmage scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium, the Huskies laid off the heavy hitting in their practice today at UW.
The Huskies were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, and no live tackling allowed. There were no new visible injuries, though RT Ben Riva (sore foot) and CB Quinton Richardson (slight concussion) sat out with injuries suffered earlier in the spring — neither appears serious.
That’s not to say it was a light practice. It again topped a little over two-hours capped by a half-hour or so 11-on-11 session at the end.
That again featured lots of situational work — setting up specific down and distances — something UW coach Steve Sarkisian had said prior to the spring would be an emphasis, saying he felt the team needed to improve its football I.Q.
“We try never to go out to run plays just for the sake of running plays,” he said today. “There should always be a purpose, and we’ve done that – but I just think our emphasis is there a lot more this year than before. Our kids are really responding to it better, and in turn I think we’re performing better in those situations.”
Keith Price had a particularly strong day throwing the ball, completing 4-5 passes for two TDs in the 11-on-11 drill that ended the practice — a 7-yarder to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in traffic and an 11-yarder on a third-down slant pass to Jermaine Kearse.
Price, however, also had a pass picked off during an earlier drill by John Timu, who seemed to stand out, and Nick Montana had one of the highlight plays earlier with a deep pass to Kearse. He also hit Kevin Smith with a short pass that found its way through traffic and into Smith’s hands, that Smith then turned into a big gain.
Sarkisian said of the QBs that “they both did some nice things. Couple turnovers today, couple interceptions by the defense (Sean Parker had the other), which is actually good. We’re getting our hands on balls. There was a big emphasis on red zone today, 7-on-7, and then there the end of practice. I thought the offense did some nice things. Big emphasis on more power, two tight-end formations stuff today that was good.”
Without Riva, however, UW was down to just nine offensive linemen, something Sarkisian said was manageable today, but could impact how the team plans for Saturday’s scrimmage. He also said a factor is the health of some defensive linemen, such as Chris Robinson.
“We’ve got to monitor it closely,” he said. “Going to watch closely to see if we get Ben Riva back. If we get Chris Robinson back. All the sudden you start getting a little thin on the defensive line, on the O-line we’ve got to be smart with how much we are banging on each other. So we’ve got to see. The plan right now is not to have any 7-on-7 work and just scrimmage but if I don’t feel like we are going to get those guys back we may do a little more 7-on-7 and back off the scrimmage stuff just a tad.”
With Riva out, Skyler Fancher worked most of the day as the No. 1 offensive tackle, though Daniel Kancugowski and Erik Kohler also got some time at that spot.
“I thought Skyler had a good day today, probably his best day,” Sarkisian said. “All of a sudden you go with the ones and you have your best day, so sometimes that helps. And we can’t forget about Erik (Kohler) at that spot, so we’ve got a lot of options there, and we just have to make sure we give them all enough opportunities to show what they are all about.”
Otherwise, no real notable changes in personnel. As noted above, Seferian-Jenkins was back after missing Tuesday with the flu.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Zach Fogerson remains out with a concussion suffered last week and that has opened the door for junior Jonathan Amosa of Rainier Beach to step in as the No. 1 fullback. “He’s been impressive,” Sarkisian said. “He’s got a heavy head. He’s not afraid at all. He shows a lot of courage. He catches the ball better out of the backfield better than I anticipated he would and he’s really come along. I’ve been extremely impressed through 11 practices he has just improved at a very good rate.”
— Amosa, a former walk-on, earned a scholarship last year as a backup linebacker and special teamer, but was moved to fullback prior to the spring. “It was a thin position for us,” Sarkisian said of fullback.” I didn’t feel great about our depth at that position and at linebacker we had so many guys we knew we had to give reps too that I just felt like, well if he’s going to get one or two reps a day at defense I’d rather him come to offense and get 20-25-30 reps a day.”
— Here’s how Sarkisian termed Riva’s injury: “He’s got a sore, swollen foot right now. We don’t think it’s serious… just giving it some rest. It’s kind of day to day right now.”
— And Richardson’s: “He’s got a mild concussion where we’re treating it with all of the right precautions.”
— And Jesse Callier also remains limited with a sprained ankle suffered last week. “He did a lot more today than he had been doing,” Sarkisian said. “But again, we’re just trying to bring him back. I don’t want that thing to linger.”
— Sarkisian said the practice at Memorial Stadium Saturday will also serve to see if the facility could host the Spring Game in 2012 when Husky Stadium will be in renovation — the Huskies will be able continue to practice regularly at UW using the practice field and Dempsey Indoor: “We’re going to look at it right this Saturday as a potential, what-would-the-spring-game-look-like next year at Memorial Stadium, what would if feel like and all of that. So that is part of the reason we are going over there as well is to see if this is a possible venue for the spring game next year.”
— Here’s more explanation for moving the scrimmage to Memorial: “I’ve always kind of thought about it, but I wanted to try and wait for the right time. And I feel like when you announce those things too early, then it kind of gets a little watered down…the news gets made way too far in advance. It felt like the time was right for where we were. I felt like Saturday’s practice and heading into Tuesday’s…I thought we needed something to give us a boost shot and get us going. And I thought our guys came out with quite a bit of energy today on both sides of the ball and were very enthusiastic. I think we’ll be that way again on Saturday. A change in scenery sometimes, that can happen. It sounds like we’re going to have good weather, so it should be fun.”
— He was also asked about Deontae Cooper having said one reason he wanted to come to UW was the chance to play right away and if that’s something the team sells in recruiting: “Every spot is different and every opportunity is different. They all want to play, but the reality is you don’t just want to play but you want to play really well when you get your opportunity. So that’s the challenge, and some guys are more prepared than others for that. And I really felt like Deontae was that way. He had come from a very good high school. We knew his coach extremely well, he had carried the ball so much in a physical nature that I felt like he could handle the pounding. We had had him in a camp here during the summer, he showed that as well. So I think we realized that the opportunity was there for him and he realized that as well.”
All for now.