Here’s a quick primer on today’s Spring Game.
When: 4 p.m. Saturday, gates open at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Seattle.
Tickets: There is no admission charge.
Parking: Lots and garages around Seattle Center will be open. The Huskies’ website refers fans to the Seattle Center parking information at http://www.seattlecenter.com/transportation/parking.
TV: Live, Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 950 AM and 102.9 FM.
Game format: UW coach Steve Sarkisian said the Huskies will “have a practice with scrimmage segments broken out between.” He said there will be four scrimmage segments. Sarkisian also said there will be “throwing competitions, kicking competitions, really trying to get the fans involved with some fan playcalls and different things, so we are trying to make it beneficial to us to maximize our time on the field but also make it entertaining for our fans so that they feel good about the Husky football team for 2013.” Sarkisian said the Huskies would also work on situations such as two-minute offense and red-zone offense.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
1. Keith Price — There was talk of a quarterback controversy before spring practice, but Price silenced critics early on with a strong command of the new up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Washington isn’t expected to run many intricate plays or formations. Still, it’s important for Price to continue to show everyone he’s capable of getting the calls from the sideline and relaying them to teammates in a short amount of time. He’s got to make the proper reads and he’s got to make the throws. The competition for the backup QB spot appears to have been settled as well. Young guns Jeff Lindquist, Cyler Miles and Troy Williams were jockeying for position. However, Miles seems to have emerged from the trio.
2. Who’s going to catch the ball? — It’s a pretty good bet sophomore star Kasen Williams will continue to improve, but there’s a big question about Washington’s No. 2 receiver. Without suspended tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, it’s a big opportunity for someone else to step up and begin to show they can be a sure-handed target for Price. The candidates include: Jaydon Mickens, DiAndre Campbell, James Johnson and Marvin Hall.
3. Keeping Price clean — A big reason Price struggled last season was due to an offensive line that had six different changes and didn’t provide adequate protection. The Huskies lost just one lineman to graduation (Drew Schaefer). There’s been a continuity on the O-line for most of the spring with Micah Hatchie at left tackle, Dexter Charles and left guard, Mike Criste at center, James Atoe at right guard and Ben Riva at right tackle. That’s great news for UW. Even better news was the return of former starter Erik Kohler who participated in the second half of spring drills.
4. Can anybody get to the quarterback? — Defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi said this week finding someone to rush the quarterback is a daily pursuit. Defensive ends Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley led UW with 6 1/2 sacks last season, but the early star of spring practice has been 6-4, 245-pound sophomore Connor Cree. The Huskies are looking for guys to pressure the quarterback and would like a sack every 16 plays.
5. Making/limiting big plays on defense — Linebacker Shaq Thompson is a legitimate playmaker. Not sure the same can be said at this point for anyone else on the defense. However, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said this week it’s just as important to prevent big plays than making big plays. He believes it does no good to play well on 65 of 75 plays if you’re giving up touchdowns or major gains on the other 10 snaps. Still, the Huskies can use a few more dynamic players on the defensive side.
6. Keep an eye on Greg Ducre and Will Shamburger — Ducre replaces all-Pac-12 cornerback Desmond Trufant and Shamburger steps in for two-year starter Justin Glenn at free safety. Ducre, a 5-10 and 177-pound senior, started six games in 2011 and was Trufant’s backup last season. He should be ready to assuming the starting job, but is expected to be challenged by Marcus Peters, Cleveland Wallace and Travell Dixon. Shamburger, 6-0 and 185 pounds, is another senior who seems ready to make the transition from backup to starter.
7. Kicking competition — Incumbent Travis Coons is battling touted freshman Cameron Van Winkle for the field goal and PAT duties.