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The Huskies again donned full pads today inside Husky Stadium for a sunny, late-morning practice, and UW’s two young quarterbacks again split snaps evenly for the two-and-a-half-hour workout.
Redshirt freshman Troy Williams worked mostly with the first-unit offensive line for the second straight practice, with sophomore Jeff Lindquist with the second offensive line group, but UW coach Chris Petersen said there hasn’t been any separation at the position through 12 spring practices. (Though he also said he wouldn’t tell us even if he believed one of the quarterbacks had separated himself.)
“I don’t think it’s really even time for us to sit down and say, ‘Hey, this is the guy.’ We just need to keep competing and letting everybody get better,” Petersen said.
I asked Petersen if there was one or two things in particular at which the quarterbacks have improved since the first spring practice on March 4.
“I think they understand what we’re doing pretty well. I think that the schemes, they understand it,” he said. “Now it’s just a process of making decisions faster. There’s a lot (of), ‘Hey, that’s a good decision. The ball just needs to come out quicker. You need to see that and make that decision quicker.’ So I think there’s been a lot of progress with those guys understanding what we’re doing.”
Some other notes, quotes and observations:
- One drill today featured a pass in the flat to a running back, with a linebacker then coming over attempt a (phantom) tackle. Shaq Thompson did that drill on both sides of the ball. “It’s a little bit tiring,” Thompson said, “but you got to fight through that. It’s football; everyone’s going to get tired.” Thompson then had three more carries in the final 11-on-11 period (though there was no tackling today), and even lined up in the slot on one play.
On Thursday night, during the spring’s first live scrimmage, Thompson had a 74-yard touchdown run among his three carries. “I still am surprised,” he said. “I honestly thought I wasn’t going to go two ways in college, so I wasn’t really trippin’ off of it. But Coach Pete brought it to my attention, and it feels good to go two ways.”
Petersen admitted he’s been a bit surprised at what Thompson has done at running back. “Each time we get him the ball, he seems to do something good. But,” Petersen deadpanned, “I’m starting to sniff that he might be on the buddy system with the defense — I don’t think they want to hit one of their own. So we’ll have to see about that.”Thompson has been meeting one-on-one with running backs coach Keith Bhonapha. Petersen: “We’re just trying to teach him a few things on offense and see where it goes. Our eyes are kind of wide open on the whole thing. We don’t really have a set plan. The better he does, the more we give him some things. But we know we need him on defense, that’s his primary role, and how he can help on offense, we’ll see about that.”
- After the defense dominated Thursday night — highlighted by Travis Feeney‘s 60-yard pick six — the offense didn’t commit any turnovers today. Petersen wasn’t pleased with the defensive performance today, but he also understands that’s part of the yin-and-yang of spring ball. After the offense won one team drill, the defense had to run one “gasser.” It wasn’t fast enough for Petersen, who had the defense run again.”I thought the defense did a good job (Thursday night),” Petersen said. “It’s so typical of spring practice: defense does a really good job (then) they come out the next practice and don’t do nearly the job they need to do. We gotta learn to compete in a consistent, high level all the time. And today wasn’t what we needed. We put them in a hard situation — a short-yardage situation — and the offense really had their way with it.”
- For the second practice in a row, walk-on Brian Clay was running as the free safety with the first-unit defense, with Brandon Beaver again limited by an apparent shoulder injury. Clay, who transferred to UW from Hawaii last September and redshirted, had been having a breakout spring at cornerback. “I think Brian’s done a really nice job I didn’t know about him before we got here. I think he was a little under the radar, a redshirt guy. He’s been a fun guy to coach. He’s got a great demeanor about him, a really good attitude and he’s getting better every day out here. He comes to work. He’s one of those guys who shows up focused and ready to get better. He’s a pleasure to be around.”
- John Ross missed his second straight practice because of what Petersen said were “the sniffles.”
- Kasen Williams again participated in a few receiver drills, running a handful routes at half-speed.
- Jesse Callier (leg injury) was not at practice today, and Dwayne Washington sat out again, leaving the bulk of the running back work to Deonate Cooper, Lavon Coleman and walk-on Ralph Kinne.
- The Socha Drill today was one of the most entertaining yet, with a pair of teammates racing together 20 yards and back. The catch was one player had to hold the legs of another player — like a wheelbarrow — who shuffled the first 20 yards with his hands. The bottom player then jumped on the back of his teammate as they made the 20-yard run back. The defense won, with Danny Shelton holding Elijah Qualls; Damion Turpin holding Joe Mathis; and John Timu holding Feeney.
- The Huskies wrap up the spring a week from today during the Spring Preview (1 p.m. at Husky Stadium, and live on the Pac-12 Networks). Petersen said the “ideal situation” would allow for coaches to draft teams and play a game, but he’s only been able to do that once in his head coaching career. “Spring game’s are hard for coaches, because we’d really, really like to just have another practice,” he said. “We need that … we need every rep we can get. So we’re going to figure (the format) out here early next week. It will be a lot of practice, it will be some funs things, and we’ll do some scrimmaging as well.”