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The Huskies were in Husky Stadium for their 10th practice of spring this morning, and in shells only. Much of the practice was run at half-speed, with no tackling.
Some notes, quotes and observations:
- The defense forced two turnovers today, meaning both offense and defense had to run gassers at the end of practice. Brandon Beaver intercepted a high Jeff Lindquist pass, off the hands of Jaydon Mickens, during the first 11-on-11. Later, Shaq Thompson stripped the ball from John Ross and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
- Thompson was back in the backfield again for the final 11-on-11 period, getting three carries. He went right for a 15-yardish gain on his first touch, went left for another solid gain on his second, and then was stopped at the line trying to run up the middle on his third. “I knew about him in high school, but I didn’t spend much time studying him and researching him, because at the end of the day Boise wasn’t one of the places he was going to go,” UW coach Chris Petersen said. “So when we figured that thing out early on, we kind of moved on. Knew about him certainly when we played against him, studied him there. But, really, I’m still learning about him. If I had to say one thing, what I know right now is he’s just a very good football player. You put him on offense, you put him on defense, you put him as the kick returner, he can just do a lot of things very well. And so I like coming out here to see him get a run and see him make a play on defense and pull the ball out. And so that’s interesting, that’s intriguing. He’s one of the guys I’m real anxious to go play a real game with, to see that show up, because he does so many good things out here.”
- Dwayne Washington and Jesse Callier were both held out while nursing what appear to be minor injuries. Deontae Cooper then left practice early to attend class. That left redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman, listed at 6-feet, 215 pounds, to shoulder the bulk of the carries in the final 11-on-11 (with walk-on Ralph Kinne also getting some good reps). “Lavon’s a guy that redshirted, so there’s not a lot of tape on him, but he’s looked really good out here,” Petersen said. “We all think he has a very big upside and a big chance if he continues to improve. He’s a physical guy, and he’s one that we’re excited about.”
- A handful of players were absent today, including Hau’oli Kikaha, Marcus Peters, Joshua Perkins and Derrick Brown. Petersen said last week that some players were excused because of class conflicts.
- The first-group offense featured, Ross, Mickens, DiAndre Campbell, Michael Hartvigson, with a line of (left to right) Jake Eldrenkamp, Siosifa Tufunga, Mike Criste, James Atoe and Ben Riva, with Colin Tanigawa continuing to get some work at center. Veteran linemen Dexter Charles and Micah Hatchie, recovering from injuries, continue to work out mostly on their own, running stairs and doing push-ups and situps on the side.
- The first-group defense featured Andrew Hudson, Danny Shelton, Evan Hudson and Josh Shirley up front, with Thompson, John Timu and Travis Feeney at linebacker, Jermaine Kelly and Brian Clay at cornerback and Trevor Walker and Brandon Beaver at safety. There was, as usual, liberal substituting. Beaver appeared to injure his shoulder near the end of practice.
- Lindquist and Troy Williams continued to split the snaps equally. Each took a few snaps under center today.
- Petersen spent one period working one-on-one with Marvin Hall during a punt-return drill. Hall, with one ball in one hand, worked on catching another ball with the other hand. Later, Hall, Ross, Mickens and Kelly worked with Petersen on punt returns.
- Sophomore kicker Cameron Van Winkle continued his solid showing since his return from back surgery, converting all three of his attempts from 37 yards in what was his busiest day of the spring. He had made one of two kicks from 30 yards earlier, and has made virtually all of his (limited) kicks coming into today. Walk-on kicker Mitch Johnson, the former Bellevue kicker who joined the team last week from UCLA, made two of his three attempts from 37 yards. “I think Cameron’s coming along fine,” Petersen said. “I think surgery went very well. I think we’re being smart with him. He’s not in the groove he needs to be in, but he will get there
- Korey Durkee, the only punter on the roster, “is making progress as well, ” Petersen said. “We’re kind of an unorthodox kicking team, and so we’ll figure out however he can punt best, whether that means kick grounders, kick it in the air or combination of both, we’ll do all those things.”
- We interviewed strength coach Tim Socha for the first time today, so I’ll have more on him this afternoon. Today’s Socha Drill was a goal-line play, and the defense dominated while, on two occasions, reversing roles. Evan Hudson, the former UW pitcher, threw a short touchdown pass to Shelton, who made the catch while being defended by Tufunga. Defensive tackle Joe Mathis, defending tight end David Ajamu, then helped force an incompletion in the corner of the end zone off a pass from Coleman. Clay, defended by Mickens, completed the sweep for the defense when he hauled in a touchdown pass. The offense ran gassers.
- Next practice: 7:15 p.m. Thursday.