Huskies head inside to avoid outdoor sloppiness
On the second day of spring football practice, and with spring-like weather nowhere in sight, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian called an audible and herded his Huskies into Dempsey Indoor for the final hour of practice Thursday.
The chilly and rainy day wasn’t much different from what UW teams have to play in for much of October and November, and Sarkisian said he’ll handle Puget Sound weather differently then.
“If this were a regular season, it wouldn’t bother us at all,” Sarkisian said. “But we’re trying to implement our schemes offensively and defensively, and we can’t afford with only 15 practices – especially early on, right now, Day 2 – to have a day that’s a little bit sloppy. We need it to be as clean as possible that we can get things taught.”
Sarkisian said he buys into the belief that Northwest weather demands toughness from players in ways that might not be as necessary in sunny Southern California.
“I totally agree with that,” he said. “I’m not worried one bit that we’re not going to be a physically tough football team or a mentally tough football team. We’ll get there.”
He also added that he doesn’t think Northwest weather will be so extreme that he can’t go about his play-calling the way he did when he was offensive coordinator at USC.
As the Huskies ran through the 11-versus-11 portion of their indoor practice, they kept things pretty wide open: quarterbacks threw on the run, and one play had sophomore receiver Jermaine Kearse of Lakewood getting outside the defense and up the sideline on a reverse.
Other offensive highlights included a Jake Locker completion over the middle to Devin Aguilar for about 25 yards, another Locker completion to Kearse while rolling out, and Curtis Shaw showing his speed on a sweep left that he broke for about 45 yards before being shoved out of bounds by safety Johri Fogerson.
Meanwhile, the defense got another strong day from lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, including a sack of Locker, and also a strip of Locker by safety Nate Williams.
When the coaching staff added up everything, a 12-12 tie was declared with one play remaining.
According to their rules, the offense would win with any pass completion or a run of 4 or more yards on the final play. Anything less, and the defense would win.
Players and coaches from each unit waved their arms, asking the crowd circling the practice field for noise; and the 150 or so in attendance responded.
Then Locker dropped back and hit Kearse streaking across the field for a long completion that won the day for the offense, which charged down the field to celebrate.
“It was fun,” Kearse said. “It was very competitive. Every team thing we do we have competitive. That’s why it was so intense. ... It’s all pride right there. It shows who wants it and who doesn’t.”
Sarkisian was asked if the result pleased him as a longtime offensive coach or as the new head coach.
“As a head coach,” he said. “I was encouraged about it. Our defense won the first practice on Tuesday. Our offense battled back and came back and won (Thursday). That’s the sign of a very good football team, one that battles and competes and doesn’t wilt. Our defense could have easily come out and won and would have been up, 2-0. But for our offense to battle back, I’m really proud of them.”
The Huskies are off today, but will return to practice at 1 p.m. Saturday, wearing shoulder pads for the first time. ... Five new walk-on players also are expected to get their first work Saturday. ... The placekicking has been a trouble spot in each of the first two practices, but Sarkisian said he is confident things will work out. “Everyone wants to just look at the kicker, but there’s a battery and there’s an operating that goes into it with the timing of the snap, the hold, the kick,” he said. “When you’re new and you’re teaching some new techniques, the timing can be off. We’ll get there.” ... Sarkisian’s father attended the practice, and Sarkisian pointed him out saying, “He looks like me, but older.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808