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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 17, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Video: Sarkisian talks after Wednesday practice, plus a few notes

The Huskies are off the field following Wednesday night’s practice, a workout that gave proof that even the veterans can learn a few things during training camp.

The couple hundred who were there certainly noticed as junior safety Nate Fellner watched much of the second half of the practice from the sidelines, sent there by UW coach Steve Sarkisian for, in essence, playing a little too rough. On this night, the Huskies weren’t tackling to the ground, something that few teams do every day as they attempt to keep their players as healthy as possible.

Sarkisian explained later that: “I love Nate Fellner. I love him. That’s what makes Nate unique. He’s a got a real streak in him that makes him special, and he’s tough. But he’s got to play within the guidelines and parameters that we set for each practice. It wasn’t a scrimmage tonight, so we had to stay up. This was not a scrimmage. We weren’t supposed to be on the ground, and he had a tendency here today to have them go in the ground when he was making his tackles, and that’s not OK.” (In practices like this, defenders are supposed to “wrap up,” hit and wrap with arms, but not tackle low or take guys to the turf).

Sarkisian said that once the lesson is taught, coach and player move on. “Oh, yeah,” Sarkisian said. “I’m over it. I love our guys. But we’re learning, we’re teaching. And we’ve got to learn. That’s part of this deal, and we’ve got to get better at that.”

That led to a discussion of Sarkisian’s philosophy on tackling during the pre-season.

“Well, I think you have to do it,” he said. “We’d be remiss if we didn’t. I don’t think we have to do it every day. I think you can play good, hard-nosed, physical football and stay off the ground. I’m not as concerned as the tackle per se, with the runner and the tackler. I’m more concerned when they fall it’s the other guys around them that get rolled up on, that get rolled into. When you just work on staying up and you wrap up and you get a strip attempt then you let the man go, then we are not on the ground and I am not as concerned about ankles and knees and things of that nature. This is the best we’ve ever been — but we’ve got to continue to coach it.”

You can see Sarkisian answer that question and more in the video below:

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— There were no new injuries of note.

— Sarkisian said there is nothing new on the three ineligible players but that he “hopefully” may know something on Thursday.

— Remember that Thursday’s practice has been moved to 4:30 p.m. That is so Sarkisian can attend the funeral of one of his high school coaches, Fred Petersen, as is explained on his blog. He also said after practice: “My really good mentor of mine – Fred Petersen – passed away over this past weekend. He is family to me. I want to make sure I am there for his service, and be part of it with my family, his family and our entire community. It is a very close-knit community and family, and I need to be there.”

Justin Glenn continues to make a run at the free safety spot held by Fellner, and stepped in for the rest of the night while Fellner was on the bench. Included in his play was an interception of a deep pass by Keith Price, which CoachSark’s blog calls the play of the day. Said Sarkisian of Glenn: “He’s making plays. Again tonight with another interception. Again, competition is what we thrive on here and we’d be wrong not to reward guys with stuff like that. When they’re making their plays if they just feel like ‘man there’s nothing left, what else can I do, I’m just stuck in this spot,’ so he’s done a nice job.”

— Sarkisian said Glenn appears past the broken leg suffered against Notre Dame in 2009. “He looks good. He really does look good. I think he is playing without fear. There was a time there — even though he was back — I think he was still fearful of his foot, his ankle, and what that could entail, what might happen. And I don’t think he even thinks about it any more.”

— Sarkisian said the punting situation could be settled by the end of the weekend: “We’re going to go through Saturday. This was a total two-week deal for me, as a lot of these position battles were. We’ll go through Saturday. Neither of them has given us a reason to say, ‘Hey, you’re out of it,’ you know. They are doing a nice job. I hope as the season goes on there is a chance for both of them to be part of this thing, because they both deserve it. They both are great punters. We are fortunate to have both of them.”

Anthony Gobern got a lot of time with the No. 1 defense today at cornerback opposite Desmond Trufant. Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin said that was due mostly to see how Gobern would do with the ones. Sarkisian also said it was “just a little bit of a reward there. I think he’s come a long, long way and he did some good things again yesterday and, you know, we preach competition around here and we have to practice what we preach. If we’re really allowing guys to compete for jobs we have to give them those opportunities.” He said Gobern and Ducre are battling to step in for Richardson.

— Asked how the chemistry at the corner spot is with Quinton Richardson out, Sarkisian said: ” It is hard to say that, they are not together a whole lot. The only time they are really together from a chemistry standpoint is slot formations and things, and when we are in man coverage and they are working their stuff together. I don’t know if there is chemistry per se between the two cornerbacks as much as there is chemistry with the safeties and the corners on those particular sides when they are working their stuff. I don’t see that mixing as much. I do think Desmond has had a tremendous camp. He has performed at a high, high level. I don’t think Quinton being there or not has affected the way he played. I think he is doing a nice job.”

— Sarkisian gave this update on Richardson: “He is doing great. He is in to practice. He is rehabbing like crazy. He was walking around today not on the field without his boot on already. He’ll make it back. Again we are not as concerned about that.”

— Sarkisian also said that John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono have switched sides at linebacker, a move that could become permanent. Those two appear to be taking control of the spots flanking Cort Dennison. “What we’ve actually done here today, actually the last two days, we actually moved [John] Timu to SAM (strongside) and flipped [Princeton] Fuimaono to WIL (weakside) to get Johnny covering the tight end a little bit more. He’s a little faster than Princeton, a little longer and then it allows Princeton to get in the box a little bit more where he’s more comfortable next to Cort [Dennison]. So, we’re looking at that the last couple of days to see what that feels and looks like.”

— Sarkisian gave this assessment of the film of Tuesday’s scrimmage: “A few things. One, I was impressed with, early in training camp like that, we really tackled well. We missed some tackles on the perimeter and things that we worked on today, but for the most part we tackled pretty well. That’s one of the keys to training camp. When we have our opportunities to tackle, we need to maximize them and use good form and trust our technique so we can develop that confidence there. That was the first side of it. The second side of it, I thought the quarterbacks were really efficient in the game. I liked their ability to get to their secondary reads and not get focused and stuck on one read here and one read there. I liked what the backs brought in general. I liked what the backs brought, I thought they ran hard, ran with purpose. I think from a special teams standpoint, we were a little tentative. So we’ve got to do a better job come Saturday, when we go again and get in the scrimmage settings on teams. We’ll really let it go and let it loose and play, so we can identify those guys that are going to be our key contributors on special teams. I think we have a good idea, but we need to maximize those guys and really get them going. All and all, for a scrimmage that was a week, 10 days into training camp, I thought it was a pretty good scrimmage.”

— Of the special teaams, he said it was “a little just choppy. Are we playing live? Is it practice tempo? We wanted to play live and see it all come together, and it was just a little choppy. So I’ve got to do a better job of telling the guys of saying, ‘Let it go and go play’ so we can get a real for what it looks like.”

— Sarkisian explained the reasoning for holding a 7 p.m. practice on two-a-days this way: “Our goal is to maximize our rest time between every practice and to ensure the fact that we get two meals in our guys between every practice. So, if we can go in the morning, we can ensure ourselves that we can get lunch and dinner before the next practice and we really get tehm off their feet just so we maximize our opportunities when we’re here. We’re fresh. I think we’re seeing that, you know, and guys have been in good shape. They’re really running and playing fast football but that’s the reasoning behind it. Two meals in between every practice and getting them off their feet.”

— Practice, which went about 100 minutes, ended with an overtime session. A possession by the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense ended in a Garret Gilliland interception of a Nick Montana pass. The No. 1 offense then played for a field goal, which ended in a 27-yard field goal by Erik Folk.

Johri Fogerson had a solid scrimmage on Wednesday continuing a good camp, and Sarkisian said he now looks 100 percent from the hip injury that hampered him last season. “He looks it. I was concerned coming into camp. I have to be honest with you, because I didn’t think in spring he was 100 percent. There were times when he got out in the spring and you could almost see him laboring with that leg and the hip. But I have yet to see that in this training camp. When he has gotten out he has looked fresh and made really solid cuts, explosive cuts. So far, so good.”

— That, however, will make it even more difficult to figure out how to spread touches in the backfield between Fogerson and Jesse Callier behind Chris Polk. “It’s a little bit challenging,” Sarkisian said. “Bishop (Sankey) is a little bit similar in a sense to them, as well, although I think Bishop might have a little more downhill mentality to his game. So we’ve got to find our opportunities. I think the first area where both Jesse and Johri are really going to help us is on special teams. And we really saw that from Jesse last year where he was really a factor on special team, not just returning kicks but covering kicks and making his plays, and Johri is fitting right into that as wel. But he will find a role and he will get on the field for us.”

— Unofficially, Price was 9-13 for 85 yards during the live settings tonight, including the interception by Glenn. Montana was 5-11 for 118 with a TD and an interception. The TD came on a 73-yard catch-and-run by DiAndre Campbell, continuing to state a case for playing time.



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