April 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM
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Some notes, quotes and observations from UW’s 13th spring practice today, contested in full pads on a gorgeous morning inside Husky Stadium:
- In the past week, redshirt freshman quarterback Troy Williams had, in my mind, inched a small step ahead of sophomore Jeff Lindquist. And maybe it was only a baby step. Today, though, wasn’t Williams’ best. Consider: During one 11-on-11 period, Williams attempted to throw a bubble screen to DiAndre Campbell that was well off the mark, leaving Campbell lunging awkwardly toward the ball. It fell incomplete, and Campbell was flattened after a firm bump from Travis Feeney. If that happened a game, maybe Campbell wouldn’t have gotten up so quickly. On the very next play, Williams tried to sneak in a 20-yard pass to Jaydon Mickens across the middle. John Timu stepped in and made a rather routine interception. Now, all that’s not intended to be overly critical of Williams, who as a redshirt freshman is expected to have some unsteady performances. One constant that Williams has shown, though, is a gambler’s mentality in making throws into tight windows — which, of course, can be a high-risk, high-reward proposition. Williams has experienced a lot of the highs and the lows this spring.
- Lindquist continues to hold his own, and he hooked up with tight end Darrell Daniels for the highlight of today’s practice. That was a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown in which Daniels, running a seam route, reached back to make a difficult catch while safety Brandon Beaver closed in. Beaver whiffed, leaving Daniels an easy 50-yard path to the end zone. “I saw open safeties, and I know Darrell’s a frickin’ stud, so I just threw it to him and he did the rest of it,” Lindquist said. “I was pretty fired up. I jumped on Ross Dolbec and starting running to the end zone.”
- Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith is back in Boise with his wife, Candice, who is expecting their third child. That left Chris Petersen to coach the two quarterbacks. “It was fun. A little change of pace,” Lindquist said.”Coach Pete and Coach Smith are really similar in the points they want to coaches; they just have a little bit different styles.”
- Both quarterbacks showed solid arm strength and good touch during one passing drill during which they threw over-the-shoulder passes to receivers near the sideline. (On a similar drill, redshirt freshman tight end David Ajamu had a sweet one-handed grab.) Overall, the quarterbacks’ decision-making, Petersen said, “is actually pretty darn good. It could be maybe a little bit quicker at times (but) I think where we need to take our next big step is accuracy. And it will. But I think there’s a lot of balls that, (with) me getting to be up close and personal with them today, if the ball is thrown a foot differently, the receiver doesn’t have to make that circus catch we’re talking about, or it doesn’t go off his hands. You watch the best throwers in the NFL, the balls almost catch themselves. They just put ’em right in front of that number and it’s very hard not to catch the ball when you throw it like that.”
- Early in spring, the quarterbacks — like every position — we doing more learning than competing. Petersen was asked if that has changed, if they’re being evaluated more now. “We evaluate everybody every day,” Petersen said. “I think they’re both getting better, they’re both still competing and improving, and we’ve been pleased with that. They both have a long way to go for us to play at a championship level, and that’s our goal always around here. But they’re making progress, no question.”
- Petersen was asked if there have been any surprises in general this spring. “Surprises? No,” he said. “I think we’re always impatient for more productivity, more execution. But I think it’s kind of par for the course for spring football.”
- Petersen reiterated that Saturday’s spring game will be “more of a spring practice. We will get some scrimmaging in, there’s no question about it. We’ll do some fun things. We’ll interact with the students and hopefully get some good work, some drill work as well. So we’re trying to get the best of both worlds.”
- A handful of guys were absent while, presumably, attending class this morning, including Hau’oli Kikaha, Marcus Peters and Joshua Perkins. Deontae Cooper then left before the final 11-on-11 team period, leaving redshirt freshman Lavon Coleman as the only scholarship running back available. Coleman continues to impress with his power running style.
- Shaq Thompson did some light work as a running back again. Nothing too extensive. During 11-on-11s, he mostly stood with the defense on the sideline, while redshirt freshman Keishawn Bierria took most of his first-team reps at outside linebacker.
- Thompson wasn’t the only two-way player on the field. John Ross, back after missing the previous two practices with an illness. At one point, he even switched from his usual purple No. 1 offensive jersey into a white No. 1 jersey to get some work in with the defensive backs.
- The Socha Drill featured a competition with linemen catching (or trying to catch) a punt. They were surprisingly good, with poor OL Andrew Kirkland, the first to go, the only one to drop a punt. Drew Schultz, Jaimie Bryant and Taniela Tupou all caught their punts to win the competition for the defense.