Fall camp had a fall-day feel to it Monday, even though it was early August and not late October.
Skies darkened up, and spat sprinkles of rain. Unpredictable wind flurries made footballs go far on one end, and duck-hook into the turf on another of Husky Stadium.
Yet, by the end of the Washington Huskies’ first day – and new coach Steve Sarkisian’s fall-camp debut – the concerned parties agreed on one thing: Little about the near 21/2-hour practice itself went sideways.
“It was a lot better than day one in the spring, I can say that,” Sarkisian said in full confidence. “From the execution standpoint on both sides of the ball, we’re playing faster. You can tell our kids had studied and prepared all offseason. Was it perfect? No. But I thought we did things really, really well that jumped out at me.”
And how did the starting quarterback assess the proceedings?
“Even in shorts, we practiced fast,” junior Jake Locker said.
The anticipation came and went. The Huskies escaped with no serious injuries. And to add a little flavor to the coming days, a few UW players were polled about the essential questions for the coming days:
• Of all the coaches, whose voice will be heard loudest, and most frequently on the field?
That one drew a laugh, a sigh and a response of, “Wow, that’s a hard one.”
Unanimously, the candidates all came from the defensive side of the ball – coordinator Nick Holt, and line coach Johnny Nansen. But the assistant who received the nod was safety coach Jeff Mills.
“(Mills) is an old man, and he’s trying to hang with these young guys,” cornerback Vonzell McDowell said. “He’s the loudest.”
• What drill will tire out the players quickest?
McDowell, safety Jason Wells and receiver Jermaine Kearse, the Lakes High product, all were reluctant to give an answer, for fear they would be violating some sort of team oath.
McDowell mentioned the “9-on-7” drill for linemen who go at it all the time. Wells said the “hash drill” where defensive backs run up and down the hashes, but don’t get to hit anybody.
Kearse was the most diplomatic: “Every drill tires me out, and will if you go 100 percent.”
• Whose newly-sculpted body will drive the women crazy?
Sarkisian mentioned at precamp press conferences that the players gave extra attention to the team’s strength and conditioning program. So naturally, the three answers from players were similar.
“Oh, you know, mine,” McDowell said.
“Me, of course,” Kearse said. “I’m representing the 195- to 210-pound crew.”
• What percentage of spectators will primarily come out for a fall practice to gauge Locker’s progress at quarterback?
This question had the most varied responses. McDowell estimated, “50-50.” Kearse noted 10 percent, while Wells answered a whopping 75 percent.
“I’d say all the fans do it to ... see him run so they can hold their breath,” Wells said.
Another day, another paying staff hire – but this one should be welcomed with open arms. Former quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, whose 2008 NFL contract was not renewed by the Oakland Raiders, was hired as the Huskies’ assistant strength and conditioning coach under Ivan Lewis. “To be back here, it’s a dream come true,” said Tuiasosopo, who admitted his first priority is trying to find another NFL job, which he will be allowed to do. In the meantime, his UW counsel will only pertain to conditioning activities, Sarkisian said. … True freshmen joined the team Monday, but not Wilson High’s Desmond Trufant. The NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse ruled one of his high school courses invalid, and he has to take a class over again, which started Monday. Best-case scenario, Sarkisian hopes to have Trufant on the field in a week. ...
Safety Will Shamburger and defensive tackle Chris Robinson (knee) are on the roster to rehabilitate their injuries, and likely will not see action this season. … Players were in shorts, practice jerseys and helmets Monday, and by NCAA rule, cannot be in pads until Saturday, at the earliest. … Obstructed-view tickets for the season-opening home game against Louisiana State on Sept. 5 will be made available soon. … In Pullman, senior running back Chris Ivory has been dismissed from the WSU Cougars team for violating team rules.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442