While the UW men’s basketball team was seeing its season end in Las Vegas, the Husky football team was preparing for next season in the rain on the east practice field, its fifth workout of the spring.
And maybe it was the inclement conditions, but the ball seemed to fly around to parts unknown more than it had in other practices so far — I counted at least five turnovers including four interceptions, two by true freshman safety Trevor Walker each off redshirt freshman quarterback Cyler Miles. Will Shamburger also had an interception off his longtime friend Keith Price, and Cleveland Wallace picked off a Troy Williams pass. Josh Shirley also had a fumble recovery (though couldn’t see through the bodies and mist to tell who lost it).
The turnovers were a pleasing sight for UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
“We made some really nice plays I thought, which was great,” he said. “Especially in this day and age with the number of plays that you’ll play against these tempo teams you have to be able to create some turnovers and get your offense the ball. So that was a good thing to see.”
It was another practice in which UW used its no-huddle up-tempo offense pretty much throughout (and probably all the way throughout but I didn’t see every single second of practice), which combined with the conditions to make it the kind of practice Wilcox thinks the defense needs to prepare to play similarly fast-paced offenses next season.
“Rain, sleet, whatever we can do to make it hard,” he said.. “That’s the goal. So it was good to get out here in a little bit of weather and push through it. We have to get used to performing and executing when we are a little tired or fatigued. It can’t just be the first two periods of practice, you’ve got to finish really well and we had a few plays in there where we didn’t finish real physically at the end of practice, so that will be something we have to address.”
Wilcox said having the defense go against a continuously up-tempo offense can help in a number of ways.
“It’s teaching you to condition your body and your mind,” he said. “To be able to execute at a high level for however long it takes, and there’s not a lot of time in between and you are going to get tired, it’s inevitable. Nobody is waiting on anybody. So to be able to operate in that frame of mind when you are on the verge of exhaustion and still be able to make the play, we did not do a good job of that last year so it’s good for us to practice it.”
It also is helping the coaches get accustomed to figuring out the best patterns for subbing to keep players fresh.
“You have to be able to substitute,” he said. “To play the same 11 guys for however many plays that would be in a game — 80, 90, 100 — I don’t care how much you do in off-season conditioning, that’s not feasible. So you’ve got to be able to roll guys and you’ve got to have a substation pattern and how to roll them and that’s something we are working on now.”
IN OTHER NEWS. …
— The Huskies were in full pads for the second straight practice but didn’t do to-the-ground tackling in team settings.
— I talked to Shaq Thompson for a few minutes afterward and while I’ll post more from that later, wanted to pass along that he said he will continue with his baseball career, as he had said he would, and will leave for Boston’s rookie league training camp on Saturday. He said he will attend a few more baseball functions throughout the spring and will again play in the Rookie League this summer. He said he has worked out a schedule with UW coaches to minimize impacting his Husky football career — to be clear, he isn’t playing baseball instead of football but along with football. He also said he’s happy remaining at linebacker.
— It looks as if William Chandler is no longer with the team which is why Thomas Vincent is working as the holder, a spot he held again tonight. Sounds like Chandler, a fifth-year walk-on receiver, is simply moving on and concentrating on school.
— Sione Potoa’e sat out with a finger injury that doesn’t appear serious. Thomas Tutogi was also in yellow but got some work in and it doesn’t appear serious. Otherwise, no new injuries apparent.
— The offensive play of the night might have been a leaping touchdown catch of a pass from Price that Campbell caught in between Sean Parker and Greg Ducre.
— Walker is competing at the open free safety spot, a position Wilcox said again could stay open for a long time. “There’s a lot of guys getting a lot of reps and that thing is going to be very competitive for a long time, so we’ll see,” he said.
— Of Walker, Wilcox said: “Trevor has been doing a good job. He studies a lot, football is very, very important to him. He’s just getting his feet wet in the college game and we are excited he’s hear. He has a lot to learn.”
— Wilcox also said this of transfer cornerback Travell Dixon: “He’s done a couple good things. He’s got some good ability, he’s got good agility for a guy his size. He’s still got a handful of things he’s got to improve upon and he’ll get a lot of opportunities the last few weeks of spring ball and into fall camp.
You can see and hear what Wilcox had to say below:
Also, here’s some video of what it looked like at practice tonight, focusing once again on the quarterbacks: