Not a lot to report from UW’s practice today as the Huskies held their shortest workout of the spring, an hour or so, in the Dempsey Indoor. The team was not in pads and it was similar to a day-before-game walk-through, which it basically was with the Spring Game on tap at 11 a.m. Saturday.
So no new personnel news, though if you were there and wondering where Chris Polk was, he simply had a class conflict. He’ll be there tomorrow.
Most interesting is that UW coach Steve Sarkisian said afterward that he may name a starting quarter, or at least a leader on the depth chart. He’s scheduled to meet the media after the Spring Game tomorrow.
Sarkisian has never set a firm timetable for naming a starter and has been reluctant to talk much throughout the spring about which may be in the lead.
After Friday’s practice, however, he said there may be some value in having a publicly known starter heading into the off-season.
“I’ve kind of gone back and forth,” Sarkisian said. “There might be something to that, to be able to go into summer with a guy that can kind of lead the offseason throwing and things of that nature. I’m going to kind of sleep on it and see how it feels tomorrow (Saturday).”
Sarkisian, in fact, said that “It’s been pretty clear now for a little over a week, but I wasn’t going to make a decision. I was just going to let it sit and see what it feels like and I’m continuing to do that.”
Sarkisian said at another point that, “Well, I think I know what I want to do. I’m just kind of letting it resonate with myself and see what it feels like.”
Conventional wisdom is that Keith Price, a sophomore, is ahead of Nick Montana, a redshirt freshman and the son of Hall of Famer Joe (who attended Friday’s practice).
If Sarkisian names a starter Saturday, however, he said that doesn’t mean the competition is completely over.
“Either way we do it, the competition’s going to rage on,” he said. “The guys are going to battle throughout fall camp. Whoever I name, the other guy has got to continually push the other guy. He’s got to make him better, because if he doesn’t, he’s going to pass him. We would switch at that point anyway. So the reality is, it kind of goes on. But I think there’s something to the effect of giving our team an idea of an identity of who we want to become and who that guy is. And then when fall camp comes, the position battle will wage on – like it does at receiver or linebacker or defensive end, offensive tackle, all the spots that we have going right now.”
Sarkisian said what happens in the Spring Game won’t impact things all that much as the playbook will be kept pretty simple so as not to tip off opponents.,
Still, he said he’d like to seee the QBs play well.
“I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do,” he said. “What I want to see out of the guys tomorrow is them just operate, out on the field, by themselves, not have coaches, not have a script, be able to not just operate the play calls that come in but fix personnel groupings, fix formations, understand the play clock. Just managing the ball game on the field and not just practicing with it. That’s the next step in this kind of progression as we move forward. I thought we did a good job of that last scrimmage; we just need to continue on that pace.”
As for the game tomorrow, Sarkisian said the No. 1 offense will pair with the No. 2 defense for one team, with the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense forming the other team. That means the ones will play against each other on the field (and obviously, so will the twos).
Sarkisian said the game will be played with a 15-minute running clock, though it will stop on change of possessions and at the end of the first half and the end of the game for two-minute situations. Also, special teams will not be live.
“I want our guys to play hard and play fast and give our fans something that they can look forward to when fall camp rolls around,” Sarkisian said.
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— Here’s what Sarkisian said when asked if he’s seen the team begin to form a new identity without Jake Locker: “Oh, without a doubt. And what I think the future can look like. So much of this, you try to gather as much information as you can and then foresee what this thing could become and where we could head and who we are as a football team, our identity. We’re different than we were last year. And that’s the realities of going through a spring practice, and then through a fall practice. But through a spring practice, it gives you a little bit of an identity of who you are, and a feel for who you are, and we’re able to assess kind of where we’re headed. Now, I understand that we’re going to get 20 or so new players come fall camp, but I don’t think they’re going to all of a sudden change who we are. We’ve got kind of an identity, on offense, and it gives you a pretty good idea of where we’re headed. Now, some things are going to change, like I said, in the fall camp, but I’ve got a good idea of the type of team that we’re going to be.”
— And what type of team is that? “Well, I think we’re a physical group. We’re much more pro style than we’ve been in the first couple years here. Obviously, with the usage of the tight ends, with the fullback, getting the ball spread to five receivers and not knowing where the ball could be going on every snap, and the ability to play-action pass even more and utilizing the fullback in the flat or a tight end on a corner route, things of that nature, on a shallow cross, to make teams defend the entire field. And the usage of a pro-style running game, which we have a firm belief in, with a sprinkle of some of the zone-read stuff; we’re not going to completely give up on that. We’ve got a really good handle on two-back runs, quarterback runs with the quarterback under center. I think this spring has helped us with the style of play that we’d like to become, with the play-action pass and throwing it to our other guys down the field, as well as utilizing our wideouts in Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar and Kevin Smith, those such guys.”
— And asked to asses areas of dramatic improvement over spring, he said: “You know, I like the progression of our two corners. I know I’ve been saying that all spring, but I just feel their confidence. I feel Quinton (Richardson) and Desmond (Trufant) really playing at a high level. And the guys behind them. I think Tony Gobern’s had a really good spring. So I feel good about what we’re doing at corner. I feel really good about what we’re doing coming off the edge. You know, Talia (Crichton) is back. We’re noticing Talia back. And then you still see Hau’oli (Jamora), you’re still seeing Josh Shirley, you’re still seeing Everrette (Thompson) coming off the edge. I love what’s happening with our edge pass rushers right now. And then the tight end position; it just feels good again to be calling personnel groupings that involve the tight end and multiple tight-end sets, and our ability to run the ball and throw the ball out of those personnel groupings.”
— UW’s two QBs wore a helmet cam during practice today as part of an experiment. Said Sarkisian: “We’re just trying to get better. I think there’s a few people doing it now. This company’s been trying to get them out there pretty good. We just have to see if it fits. I don’t want it to be a distraction for those guys or for the other guys. If there’s some use there where we can utilize some things from it and get better from it, we’ll try it.”
— Here was Sarkisian’s reaction to Locker being taken: “It was really cool. I’m really happy for him, as you obviously know. Good things happen to good people who work really hard, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s going to a great place that fits him not only on the field, but off the field.”
— And on if he felt confident of where Locker was going to go in the draft: “I had a pretty good idea. When I finally got a chance to kind of assess the draft and look at the needs for teams, quarterback was a big need. With so much uncertainty with free agency right now and all these unsigned quarterbacks, if a team didn’t have one they were almost forced to draft one early because they don’t know if they’re going to get one in the back end. Normally all that free agent stuff would be done prior to the draft, and teams had a lot better knowing. So if you look at it that way, I think there were seven teams in the top 16 picks that really needed a quarterback. With that being said, I thought to myself, in my mind he’s going to go in the first half of the first round, and sure enough he went at eight.”
— Sarkisian also said of the accuracy issue with Locker that “”I think it’s pretty blown out of proportion. But whatever. The pundits – I guess they think he’s got an accuracy issue.”
— UW names its four team captains after practice — Jermaine Kearse, Senio Kelemete, Alameda Ta’amu and Cort Dennison.
— This is the weekend of the player reunion and among those there Friday was Olin Kreutz. I talked to him briefly and he said he’s still weighing whether to return to action next year after having played 13 seasons.