The Huskies are off the field for the final time this weekend, holding about a 90-minute workkout in the Dempsey Indoor.
UW was in full pads and once again there was a lot of work with the younger players as the Huskies concluded their opening phase of their bowl practices.
UW has had six practices the last two weekends, and all were devoted largely to the younger players and fundamental work. UW will now take three days off before then beginning gameplanning for the Vegas Bowl against Boise State on Dec. 22. UW will essentially have a gameweek from Thursday-Sunday, then travel to Las Vegas next Monday, and then have another gameweek of practice leading into gameday itself.
UW coach Steve Sarkisian said the six practices of the last two weeks have served their purpose.
“It’s been great,” he said. “It’s been really competitive. The spirits have been high by those guys to get in and show what they can do and how they have improved even over the last two weeks. It’s been highly competitive. I think some of the young backs have improved as the days have done on. I think some of the young DBs have really showed some stuff, whether it’s Travell Dixon, Cleveland Wallace, Brandon Beaver — those guys have played well. The young quarterbacks have had somewhat of ups and downs along the way but they are getting really invaluable experience, as well as some of the young O linemen. So it’s been great all the way around.”
Sarkisian had a lot more to say about some of the younger players, as well as talking about the team getting to choose its bowl gifts on Saturday, the schedule from here on out, and more. You can watch it in the video below, and I also have some more transcribed quotes after the video:
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On Jake Eldrenkamp being used at left tackle: “It’s the way he shapes up with the group that we have right now up front. We will obviously reassess all of that when spring ball rolls around and put Jake in the best position for him as well as for us as a team. He’s an athletic guy and he’s really improved as the year has gone on from a fundamental, technique standpoint. I think his toughness, he’s understood the physicality of college football and gotten better at that. So I’ve been impressed with Jake along with some of the other young linemen.”
On Dwayne Washington’s conversion to tailback: “He’s still relatively raw at the position. Even though he’s been there at running back since he showed up, that’s essentially where we put him. But some of the fundamental things of the position are still new to him, so he will look good for two or three plays and then they might get lost there for a couple of plays. So this is great for him to put these days on film. He’s a talented guy, he runs hard. We’ve got to continue to work on his pad level so that he runs behind his pads and then taking care of the football, but I think his future is very bright at that spot.”
On what dimension Washington brings to the tailback spot: “Well, his size, for one. Talking about a 6-1, 6-1-and-a-half, 215-pound, end up being a 220-225-pound running back. is something we don’t have on our roster right now. Also, with his background playing wide receiver, his ability to do some things catching the ball out of the backfield is unique, as well. Hopefully we can continue to develop him, spring ball will be big for Dwayne those 15 practices when we really get back into the fundamentals and teaching the nuances of the position. But he’s another guy that really has a bright future.”
On Travell Dixon’s progress at cornerback: “Right now he’s a corner. He’s still learning the scheme. This was good for him. One of the keys for him that we want to see out of him is that competitive nature show up consistently. He’s a talented guy, he can run, he had a really acrobatic interception yesterday. Was good to see him make some tackles today. Wanted to get him some opportunities to have to make some tackles on running backs as well as wide receivers. But that consistency for Travell is something we are really looking for and trying to get out of him, that drive, that consistency. So that’s going to be his next step and phase in the competition at that corner spot that will get opened up by Desmond (Trufant graduating) and we’ll see who can seize the opportunity.”
On the bowl reps being here over the weekend and the gifting suite for the players: “Bowl gifts are bowl gifts and depending on what bowl game you go to. The Vegas Bowl does it a unique way which is pretty cool, a gifting suite where the guys can almost choose what they want rather than ‘this is what you are going to get.’ And the guys really enjoyed it. The showgirls added a flair for what the Vegas Bowl is all about and they do a great job. Our guys are excited about going to a different bowl game than they have been to the last two years and for a lot of our guys it is relatively close to home from Southern California, so a lot of family and friends can come. And our fans are pumped. The ability to get from Seattle to Vegas in a good venue before Christmas and everybody can get home for Christmas. So I expect there to be a great deal of purple in the stands.”
On what the players get to choose: “Oh man, they had from recliners to head phones to home theaters. There are so many things to choose from and it’s a pretty cool points system the way they do it. You can choose one big gift or you can go all the way down to seven small gifts. So it gives the guys something to feel like they have some ownership of how they get their bowl gifts.”
On the three young QBs and how they have played in the last two weeks: “I think they have all shown some real glimpses of hope and excitement of what they could potentially do. They also have shown their youth and inexperience at times with some of the mistakes they make. But these practices are invaluable. I was talking to Keith (Price) about it and even going back to getting ready to play in the Holiday Bowl and when Keith was getting a bunch of these reps and how much he loved these practices and how much you looked forward to them as a young player. Because sometimes a young quarterback, the daily grind of going to the service team and plowing your way through it, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated every day. But these first six practices as a young QB, you get excited for. These are almost like your gamedays and a little extra edge with yourself and your preparation and you could see a pep in their step as they were playing the last six days. And again, some really good stuff, some other stuff that they are going to learn from, mistakes you can’t make at this level.”
On if there is any pecking order with the young QBs: “We’re not worried about that right now. We’ve got a long time before those guys potentially are playing for us right now, so it was just good to get them reps, to get them motivated for the off-season and get them ready for spring practice.”
On having a number of recruits in this weekend and the response: “It’s been tremendous. We’ve obviously had some tremendous young student-athletes here that are not only good football players but are good people and it was a cool opportunity for us to show off the new stadium, our great campus, our current team and our coaching staff. And to learn these new guys. So all in all I think the response has been great but we obviously have a long way to go until signing day so we just have to continue to recruit and put our best foot forward for all of the guys we are recruiting.”
On if he prefers having big groups in now or during the gall for game weekends: “I think it varies on recruit. I think so many times, we have such a unique gameday atmosphere here, especially when we get back into Husky Stadium. And sometimes the kids, you want them to see that and be part of that because that is one of the great selling points here, gameday at Husky Stadium. But the flipside of that is that maybe we don’t get to spend as much personal time w ith the recruits as we would when they come on weekends like this in December and January. So there is a fine line and a lot being put on the assistant coach to know his individual recruits and what they are looking for in their official visit and what might get them to feel even better about the University of Washington. So it varies with me. I like the personal time. I like spending the time with recruits and getting to know them as much as they are getting to know us. Some kids it’s important to get them up to see the gameday atmosphere.”
On how the schedule works now: “It will kick into (gameweek mode beginning Thursday). Thursday will be like a Monday for us from a preparation standpoint. So don’t want to say that it will be a light workout but it will be the preliminary stages of the gameplan. Tuesday will be a legitimate Tuesday practice and we will we get after it pretty good and we will go and then Saturday will resemble a Wednesday and then Sunday will resemble a Thursday. So if I label the days wrong as we are going next week don’t hold it against me. And then we will take that Monday off to travel down and then we will recreate the week next week (in Las Vegas).”