The second week of camp is usually when some of the significant scrimmaging begins. And right on schedule, the Huskies did some live contact work during a roughly two-hour practice today at UW.
Not all of the scrimmaging was live, in terms of to-the-ground tackling — some was hitting and wrapping up.
But much of it was, and as is often the case in these things, it was sort of a mixed bag (other than in the fact that there were no new significant injuries, always the best news of all).
The offense scored five touchdowns in 12 full possessions and then an extra overtime period, all on passes — two each by Keith Price and Derrick Brown and one by Cyler Miles.
Price’s two scores, which came running the first offense against the No. 2 defense, were to Kendyl Taylor (getting a lot of work with the ones with James Johnson limited and Kevin Smith out) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the latter a 47-yarder that might have been the play of the day (and by the way, exact yards and stats on some of this stuff were not possible to get from our vantage point).
Brown threw about a 29-yard slant to Mickens for a TD and about a 10-yarder to Josh Perkins, the latter of which came on the last play.
Miles threw about a 9-yard TD to Evan Hudson which came after about a 45-yard completion to Marvin Hall, beating Brandon Beaver on the play.
The order of the backup QBs — and read into it what you want — was Miles, Brown and Jeff Lindquist.
There was one turnover, a Sean Parker interception of a Price pass over the middle. And there were to kicks blocked on field goals attempted by walk-on Santiago Lopez, who appeared to be getting his chance, though Travis Coons appears to have basically wrapped up the starting job at PK.
There wasn’t a ton of running but Jesse Callier had about a 15-yarder early on, and Bishop Sankey also had about a 20-yard run off left tackle at one point.
There was some brief kickoff and punt return sessions. The KO returners were Callier and Mickens, and the punt returners were Kasen Williams, Mickens and Hall.
A number of guys sat out, including many key defensive players who have been banged up in recent days, including safeties Justin Glenn and Shaq Thompson, out for a second straight day with what was termed as a mild concussion. CB Tre Watson also sat out with an undisclosed injury and Marcus Peters was also out with a back injury.
So that had a lot of the personnel groupings looking a little different.
The No. 1 offense generally looked like this — OL left to right, Micah Hatchie, Colin Tanigawa, Drew Schaefer, James Atoe and Ben Riva; Price at QB; Callier/Sankey at TB; Jonathan Amosa at FB; ASJ at TE; Kasen Williams, Taylor and Mickens at WR.
The No. 1 defense had Josh Shirley, Talia Crichton, Danny Shelton and Andrew Hudson up front with Semisi Tokolahi rotating in quite a bit. The linebackers are really a mishmash right now with all of the injuries. But the starters today were John Timu in the middle and Scott Lawyer and Travis Feeney on the outside. The CBs were Desmond Trufant and Greg Ducre and the safeties were Parker and Will Shamburger.
The No. 2 offense usually had a line of, from left to right, Dexter Charles, Ben Teichman, Sifa Tufunga, Shane Brostek and Mike Criste. The WRs were DiAndre Campbell, Cody Bruns and Hall. The No. 2 defensive line was usually Tani Tupou, Connor Cree, Lawrence Lagafuina and Sione Potoa’e with Jarett Finau rotating in. The No.2 LBs were Jamaal Kearse, Blake Rodgers and Taz Stevenson. The No. 2 safeties were James Sample and K.C. Herren with Anthony Gobern also getting some time at safety; and the No. 2 CBs were Beaver and Adam Long.
But there was a lot of mixing and matching throughout, and a lot of putting young guys in with starting units to see how they’d react.
Said Sarkisian: “This was the first time we let them go out on the field and have to play without a coach in their ear telling them what to do, without being able to look at a script to see what might be coming. They had to go play and get a call and go line up and communicate and execute and I think there were some guys that we thought were maybe a little further along that struggled at that today so we need to push them and keep putting them in those types of settings so they feel more comfortable.”
Asked who needed to improve, Sarkisian said: “I would say all 22. We need to improve. Everybody needs to improve. Keith needs to improve. I’ve seen him better than he was today. So everybody has to improve to some degree within the position they are playing at, so I don’t think it’s about one guy or one position group. I think collectively we need to improve from where we were today.Do I think it was bad? No. I think there was plenty of good things out there. But I know we can be better.”
Asked about the mechanics and tempo of the scrimmage, he said: “I thought it was pretty good. Our tempo needs to increase immensely offensively. We are in the huddle way too long. Again, I thought guys were maybe a bit too excited, a little bit anxious today and made some mistakes they normally they hadn’t been making so far in training camp, getting lined up, running the right routes, making the right calls. I thought in the back end, the same kind of things, some young guys making some calls or not communicating so a lack of communication there. But those are fixable things. I didn’t see something glaring where ‘geez, we are playing the wrong guy at the wrong spot’ and things of that nature. It’s about being confident and being prepared to do what you’ve been doing throughout camp, so we’ve got to go look at this thing and then point out those errors, those mistakes that are definitely correctable and get them corrected quickly so we can keep moving forward.”
Asked how quickly he’d like to see certain position groups come together, Sarkisian said: “Well I hope I feel good when we play San Diego State. That’s the most important thing, when we take the field Saturday night at 7:30 that I feel great about the 11 on offense and the 11 on defense and the 11 on the punt team the kickoff team, all of that. As always training camp is a work in progress and you are looking for incremental progress from day one to the time it’s time to kick off for the opener and it comes in a lot of different forms, that progress. And sometimes it’s from an individual and sometimes it’s from a unit and sometimes it’s from one facet of the game, the run game, the pass defense. So you are constantly looking for those things to make yourself feel better about it. I feel good about our team in general. There are still areas I want us to get better at and we got some information today about some areas we need to work on.”
While having true frosh Taylor and Mickens in with the No. 1 unit was in part due to injuries, Sarkisian said it was also a nod to how they are playing.
“They have both had great camps,” he said. “I feel like I talk about them every day and they are going to have a handful of plays they want from today back as well but that’s all part of putting them in this situation and making them play.
“They are explosive guys. I think they are different from what we have had in our program the first three years. Their acceleration our of their cuts, their route running, very high football IQs. They give us an explosive dimension we haven’t had, create big plays, they are very sudden in and out of their breaks and then when they get opportunities to make big plays they make them. They are not shy about the football at all, they go make the plays.”
As for the cornerback spot, Sarkisian said: “That one is not settled yet. We know what Tru is on the one side and there is great competition going on with the other three guys, Ducre, Tre and Marcus Peters, and that’s healthy because the reality that we are going to go through the season with just two guys isn’t going to happen, so we are going to need all those guys. But he fits in great, he’s got such a knack for the football, high football IQ, and he can not only play corner but he can go play some nickel and sneak back and do some safety work, so he’s a very versatile guy. All those things bode well for him.”
He later mentioned Beaver, as well, saying: “I thought he has had a nice camp. He’s another young guy got in the setting and guessed a little today and got beat on the deep ball by Marvin. So a lot of positions where guys got to get used to the setting of being out on the field and still doing things right.”
And finally, asked to assess the defense so far, he said: “I feel good about it, especially with a lot of the changes we are making from a personnel standpoint. They continue to do some good stuff. Their incremental progress has been good. I thought there were a couple things that set back today. I think offensively we have improved quite a bit since the spring so sometimes you don’t see the defense’s improvement when the offense makes some big plays down the field and does what they do but I think our offense is much improved from spring but that our defense continues to get better.”
You can see Sarkisian’s session with the media below:
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