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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 12, 2011 at 7:22 PM

Friday practice report: Sarkisian says “It’s as physical as we’ve been, in my opinion”

Friday marked the first day in full pads for the Washington Huskies this camp. And afterward UW coach Steve Sarkisian said he sees continuing signs of his team starting to become the kind of physical football team he has envisioned since arriving in Dec. 2008.

“It’s physical, I know that,” he said of what he sees happening in the trenches. “It’s as physical as we’ve been, in my opinion. We’ve got more explosive body types in there, even our young guys. They may not be right all the time and I don’t expect them to be. But just our ability to come off the football on both sides of the ball is evident to me. We are snapping off the ball and striking better than we have in the past.”

In fact, there was physical play throughout, typified by a hit by Desmond Trufant on true frosh tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins as Trufant roamed the middle and then levied a blast that knocked the ball out.

Said Sarkisian: “A great play. Just a tremendous play. I think Keith thought that Jenkins was just wide open and was just kind of late on the ball and Desmond covered about 40 yards in 4.3. Welcome to college football, right?”

Asked how being able to make those kinds of plays consistently can impact an offense, Sarkisian said: “It’s big and it affects guys. All the sudden there are some double catches and some drops and guys might not be running routes as full speed as they can be and it’s not just in the passing game but it can be in the run game too with running backs so hopefully as a football team we posses that ability to make those types of hits on both sides of the ball. That’s how you instill a little bit of fear and hesitation in opponents.”

You can see Trufant talking about that hit, as well as a few other topics, in the video below:

[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”1108379117001″][/do]

That was far from the lone highlight, however. Freshman running back Bishop Sankey had a few nice runs, including a couple in a row during a late team sessions that helped lead to a touchdown pass from Nick Montana to Nick Holt (not the coach, the walk-on freshman who is making a real run at being the backup fullback).

Said Sarkisian of Sankey: “I think Bishop, he’s a serious kid and mentally and physically prepared for this. He studies, he works at it, he’s in great shape and he is not afraid. Sometimes you see guys when we are in underwear, in helmets, guys can look good, there is no fear of getting hit and then when put on the pads they are not the same guy. That’s not the case with Bishop. The pads have come on he is running hard and pass protected and run the ball hard. He just fits right in. He belongs.”

And of Holt: “He just keeps making plays. He got his first touchdown at Husky Stadium today so that was a pretty cool moment — I’m sure his father is proud. He’s doing a nice job. I think that it is a natural fit right now for our football team and it gives him an opportunity to get on the field maybe a little quicker than at linebacker, where he was slated to play.”

Asked if Holt’s future is now as a fullback, Sarkisian said: “I think so but a lot of it is how his body grows and performs. But you’ve got to love playing fullback. It’s not something you go and do, you’ve got to love it. It’s grimy position. Not a lot of glory, a lot of butting heads and sacrificing yourself for the good of the team and the guy running the ball behind you. I think he has that mentality so we will see how that goes.”

Other highlights included a Seferian-Jenkins TD pass from Price during the last team session, and another from Derrick Brown to Josh Perkins that was called back due to a penalty upfield. Brown also hit Perkins a little later with Perkins slipping a tackle from Marcus Peters and appearing headed for a touchdown before fumbling, setting off a mad scramble in the end zone.

Not a lot of difference in the lineups, though Justin Glenn again got some time with the one defense at free safety (though Nate Fellner got most of it).

Maybe most interesting was an alignment that had Danny Shelton at tackle with the starting defense alongside Alameda Ta’amu with Everrette Thompson moving to end, with Hau’oli Jamora at the other end.

Asked what he saw of Shelton, Sarkisian said: “It’s hard for me to see everybody on every snap but I think he did okay. We wanted to see what he looked like playing against a frontline type guy because he’s had a nice camp as far as starting to play at the speed that is needed to be played at and so I will be able to give you a better evaluation after I see the film but it didn’t jump out at me that he didn’t hold up, that’s for sure.”

And of how that impacts the line: “Put Everrette back out at end and when you are playing teams that really like to pound the football and are physical we get to a bigger front, a more physical front, especially first and second-down defense.”


— Here’s Sarkisian’s overall view of practice today: “Today wasn’t bad but I’ve seen us better. We hold ourselves to that standard on our end. But after that I thought there were some good things on both sides. We still continually got to work our pad level on the line of scrimmage. We’ve got to be lower football, better pad-level football to be the physical team I think we can be.”

— Sarkisian on the team using its weight room work to get more physical: “It’s huge and we are always trying to be cutting edge in that area and stay ahead of the game and (strength coach) Ivan (Lewis) does a tremendous job of that, and we have had a real plan in place each year of what we wanted to get accomplished and what the focus was going to be for our football team and we’ve done that. We went from let’s lean out and get faster in year one to year two let’s get our strength right and get stronger to now in year three let’s get more explosive. And I think we are seeing the return.”

— Sarkisian on James Johnson: “Kind of getting back to what we are used to seeing from him. That receiving line is a battle right now. These guys are competing and all of them are making their plays in different areas. We are not into a point now where we have to gameplan and find spots for everybody exactly where we need to be. We are just allowing guys opportunities to make plays and James is definitely taking advantage of that. … I just want to see him having fun playing football the way he is capable of and I think he is doing that right now.

— Sarkisian on when the team may decide redshirts: “We’re getting closer. We had a nice conversation last night about it, coach Holt and I, just trying to get a little bit of an idea. But again I want to give them a chance to play, so we will get two good practices tomorrow and tomorrow night we will do some live settings so we will see. Some guys can raise their level of play when all the sudden it is live and the lights are on and so we can gather even more information on the young kids then as well.”

— Sarkisian mentioned on Monday needing to help PK Erik Folk regain his confidence. He elaborated on that statement today saying he saw Folk’s performance slip “a little bit” last year. “I just think back to some of the kicks late in the year and to spring. I’ve seen him better, in my opinion. Just like all the guys on this team, when they do something really good and they are making big kicks and big plays, that’s the standard that is set now. When you show us it once we know what you are capable of. The standard for Erik is very high. He’s got the talent and the mindset to be a tremendous kicker, to be an All-Pac-10 kicker and we just want him to perform like that and he does too, so that’s one of our goals for this camp. … It’s not technical at all just a matter of striking the ball the way you are capable of striking it.”

— Sarkisian also said he is starting to get comfortable with the starting offensive line, which remains, from left to right, Senio Kelemete, Colin Tanigawa, Drew Schaefer, Colin Porter and Erik Kohler: “We are, but I’m letting guys compete. We want to let (Ben) Riva battle and do some things and we’ve moved (Skyler) Fancher inside and letting him do some things. So I don’t want to just say ‘this is it’ but I am getting comfortable. Colin Tanigawa has shown that he can do things. Every once in a while Alameda (Ta’amu) tosses him aside but he does that to a few other guys, too. He’s done some nice things and (Erik) Kohler has been taxed with some really good pass rushers whether it’s (Josh) Shirley or (Hau’oli) Jamora coming off the edge, so it’s been challenging for him.”

— Sarkisian said that there will be no game penalties for running back Johri Fogerson’s run-in with the law — he plead guilty to resisting arrest in May. Sarkisian said Fogerson received internal punishment. He also said Shirley would have no additional penalty even if he is found guilty of Grand Theft — he is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing next week. Sarkisian said one condition of Shirley coming to UW is that he would redshirt last year, which he did, and that ended any punishment Shirley would receive from Washington.

— Finally, here’s the plan for tomorrow: “In the morning it will be really emphasis on two-minute drill and some special situation type stuff and then in the evening it will be a normal practice but with an emphasis on special situations and goal-line and some real physical type play.”
The night practice begins at 7 p.m. and is open. The morning practice is not open.



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