It worked in Hollywood. Why not Huskyville?
Steve Sarkisian is a smart man, and a motivator. While the offensive coordinator at Southern California the past few years, he saw why Trojans coach Pete Carroll would invite a few big names – often celebrities – to attend practice.
It got the players’ attention.
Sarkisian brought that way of motivation Wednesday to his new digs – Husky Stadium – for his own University of Washington spring practice.
Lawyer Milloy was the guest secondary coach.
And the former All-American safety from Lincoln High and UW, who just finished his 13th season in the NFL before recently being released by Atlanta, fit the part.
Clad in an all-gray sweat suit, and a purple knit cap, Milloy was all over the field, greeting defensive backs as they came off the field, barking instructions at them as they came to the huddle, even shouting a few things not fit for print in a family publication.
“Oh, man, it was great. We didn’t know he was coming,” said junior Victor Aiyewa, one of a host of candidates for the starting strong safety spot opposite Nate Williams.
“He’s a good mentor right now for us. I keep listening to what he has to say, keep watching film on him.”
Not a bad idea for a unit that surrendered 24 touchdown passes to Pacific-10 Conference opponents a year ago – second-worst to Oregon’s 25.
“Getting some input from him, you can’t help but benefit from listening to an All-Pro safety,” UW safety coach Jeff Mills said.
And Milloy got to ride the back-and-forth pendulum of the secondary’s performance Wednesday.
It started poorly in the Huskies’ red-zone drills. Receivers were catching balls all over the place, and trotting into the end zone.
That prompted Milloy to suggest – with some authority – that somebody halt the receivers’ progress.
As the drills went on, the defense finally got the upper hand, pleasing Sarkisian.
“I’m just a competitor by nature. That is what Sarkisian is about. That is what they’re building toward,” Milloy said. “The reason why I’m here, because I bleed purple and gold, and I want to see him be successful.
“But you’ve got to crawl before you can walk.”
Mills, a former UW graduate assistant under Don James from 1990-91, said he isn’t so much concerned with the current depth chart as he is the character and effort by his players.
“I want them ... understanding on defense, if we stay on top of deep balls, and we leverage the run, that will give us a chance,” Mills said.
Backup offensive tackle Skyler Fancher (right leg) had surgery Wednesday morning to repair a lower-leg fracture that also caused ligament damage. Sarkisian said the sophomore from Costa Mesa, Calif., should be ready for fall camp. ... Running back Brandon Johnson and cornerback Matt Mosley returned from earlier spring-ball injuries, but the UW lost receiver Vince Taylor (ankle) and linebacker Cort Dennison (hand) for a portion of workouts. Also sidelined, as expected, was receiver D’Andre Goodwin (hamstring), who aggravated his injury at practice Monday. ... Sarkisian praised the play of receiver Jordan Polk, who scored on a pass play and end-around run, albeit against the second defense. ... Taking another cue from USC, Sarkisian is utilizing an officiating crew for every spring practice, and not just scrimmages. “I think everyone learns from having them out here,” Sarkisian said. ... The school’s new mascot, “Dubs,” also attended practice, but on a leash.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442