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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 23, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Tuesday practice notes

Washington’s last night practice of training camp also turned into something of a showcase for the team’s receivers.

“I thought this was one of the offense’s better days,” Sarkisian said. “They were really efficient, not just running the ball but throwing the ball. I thought Jermaine Kearse had a nice night tonight. I thought Keith Price had a nice night tonight. Kevin Smith another nice night. So it was a nice night for the offense but as a team I appreciated our effort and energy and enthusiasm they brought tonight.”

He didn’t even mention Kasen Williams, who turned in one of the highlight plays of camp with a one-handed catch of a fade route in which he appeared to just catch the ball at the tip and then hang on as he dragged a foot in-bounds during a one-on-one drill.

That came just a few minutes after Kearse made a leaping catch of a deep pass in a one-on-one drill, and before Smith responded with a TD in the corner of a Nick Montana throw in a team session. Austin Seferian-Jenkins also threw in about a 30-yard TD grab from Price for good measure during a team session.

Saturday, when there were a handful of dropped passes, proved that the receiving corps has room to grow.

But nights like this also showed that this could be one of the deeper receiving corps UW has had in a while, something Sarkisian talked about afterward.

“It’s a deep group and the beauty of that is them being deep,” he said. “The challenge for us is finding ways and roles for us for all of these guys so that we can keep them fresh so that when they are in the ballgame they are still fresh and playing fast to create these big plays. That’s what we are working through right now. But there are easily seven guys that can play and play well and make plays. Not just be a role player but make plays and create chunks of yards for our offense.”

Sarkisian said the receivers are emblematic of what he says is the fastest team UW has had in his three years here.

“Oh, without a doubt,” he said. “This is far and away our fastest team, our most athletic team. It just shows when one side of the ball makes a mistake, the other side really makes them pay, and not just with 10 or 12 yard gains. These are chunks of yards that show up for the offense, or an interception for a touchdown for the defense. By far and away our fastest team, most athletic, flying around. I love watching them play.”

Also appearing ready for the season to begin was kicker Erik Folk, who hit 4-5 fairly long-range kicks, including a long of 53 that had room to spare. Sarkisian talked before camp about wanting to get Folk’s confidence back. He said tonight that appears to have happened.

“I think he is grooving,” Sarkisian said. “The last one was from 53 with ease, so I love what Erik is bringing.”

The Huskies obviously had issues on special teams last season, and getting Folk back on track was just one of the objectives. UW also is searching for better return and cover teams, and Sarkisian thinks that’s happening.

“A huge effort (is being made on special teams in practice) and part of that is because we obviously want to get better at special teams and the other side of it is we’ve got a lot of young players and with young players comes lack of experience so we’re trying to get them that experience in practice to get them prepared for the moments when they show up in games and so we’ve really put the time into special teams and I think we’re starting to see the benefits of it,” he said. “We’re performing better.”

Sarkisian also commented on the position battles he sees still in play.

“The corner spot with (Greg) Ducre and (Anthony) Gobern is a big one,” he said. “The tight end thing is somewhat of a battle, but they’re both on the field so much together I don’t feel like that’s too big of a battle that way; the defensive tackle spot between Sione (Potoa’e) and Danny (Shelton) I think is a big one. Danny has really pushed himself and had an opportunity to play with the ones quite a bit tonight and then at the (weakside) linebacker spot I think with Princeton (Fuimaono) and Garret Gilliland is a good one.”

Ducre ran with the ones during the final team session as did Shelton and Fuimaono. And Justin Glenn and Nate Fellner appeared to basically trade off at the free safety spot, another position that appears still in play. The rest of the defense appered status quo.

There didn’t appear to be any significant changes to the offensive lineups.

IN OTHER NEWS. …

Chris Polk and Quinton Richardson are still out. Sarkisian provided this update on Polk: “I think just kinda par for the course. It’s still very early. He says he feels great like he’s always going to say. He’s a tough kid and he wants to get back sooner rather than later, but we’re going to take our time. We’re going to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy so that we can reap the benefits of having Chris Polk in October and November, when we’re really going to need him. We’ll see how he progresses throughout the end of this week and into next week and see where he’s at.”

— Sarkisian said he’s increasingly comfortable with the backs who will fill in for Polk. “I think they’re playing well. They’re playing hard and they’re trying to seize the opportunity that’s in front of them and I don’t have any complaints about what they’ve done so far.” He said again he doesn’t see any problems with Jesse Callier running between the tackles. “That’s all he did in high school. He was a power-runner in high school and we were just trying to find a role for him on our team last year because he was so talented and so that became his role. He’s fine running between the tackles.”

— A couple of number changes — Nick Holt is now 49 and Thomas Tutogi 50. Tutogi needed to change from 3 since he and James Johnson could be on the same special teams.

— The punt returners tonight were Williams, Devin Aguilar, Willis Wilson and Johri Fogerson.

— Asked about the team continuing to buy into the culture change, he said: “I think we have gotten better and better and better from year to year to year. What I appreciate about this group is they respect one another. They have a great deal of respect for one another but they play hard. They play with a lot of passion, a lot of energy. They love coming out to practice and working every day. And they appreciate what the guy next to them and across from them is doing, too, and by doing that they can go hard and compete with one another but yet put their arm around each other and laugh about things and be a football team, which is great.”

— Here’s his quote on the Marvin Hall denial: “Marvin Hall was initially denied. We have appealed that denial and the appeal has been in place so we will wait on that now.”

— It’s now just 11 days to the first game, and Sarkisian said: “We talked about it at length today. I can’t believe how fast it’s coming and all the little things that we want to make sure we get accomplished here in the next few days before game week are critical for us. Tomorrow’s practice is going to be a big one for all of the special situations you can get placed in in a ball game so that will be our focus for the next couple days.”

— One goal from now to the first game? Getting the team in game shape, Sarkisian said: “I don’t think we’re where we need to be yet. That’s something we tried to work on tonight. We kept our ones out there for an extended period, I think it was almost a 12 or 13-play drive which is needed. We need to get used to playing not just five to seven snaps at a time, but 10 to 12 and that part will be part of the focus for the next few days.”

— UW will practice tomorrow at 3:15 p.m., one of just two workouts left open to the public. The other is Thursday at 4:15 p.m., which may not last all that long, so Wednesday may be your best bet to really take in a good practice.

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