Short term, Washington’s players knew what was at stake in Saturday’s spring preview event that unfolded before a several hundred fans at rainy Husky Stadium.
Players on the winning team got to eat burgers from Dick’s Drive-In afterward. Players on the losing team not only went burger-less, but were limited to post-practice showers of no more than a minute.
UW coach Chris Petersen seemed particularly concerned with enforcing the latter.
“If we make this quick,” Petersen said during his post-practice press conference, “I can make sure no one is sliding in there.”
The burgers and fries ultimately went to the Purple team, which prevailed by a score of 10-0 throughout a series of scrimmage portions that totaled roughly 76 plays. Sean McGrew, a redshirt freshman tailback, scored the only touchdown of the day, a 17-yard burst on a handoff from quarterback Jake Browning. Tristan Vizcaino had kicked a 24-yard field goal on the series prior.
That was it. Browning attempted only 10 passes, and UW’s defense got the better of its offense for most of the, uh, game: Huskies quarterbacks completed only 19-of-39 passes for 156 yards with two interceptions, and they were sacked six times.
But what’s far more important than any one spring practice, the defending-Pac-12-champion Huskies know, is how they approach their conditioning regimen during the upcoming summer months.
“It’s very important (to) kind of establish yourself as a leader or a go-to guy, not so much on the field, but out there while we’re working out hard in the summers, sweating and all that stuff,” said junior tailback Myles Gaskin, who carried four times for 24 yards on Saturday. “A lot of roles are determined right then, being able to push through it, push another guy.”
Last summer, linebacker Keishawn Bierria said, “the competitive side of everything we were doing was insane, as far as conditioning and lifting.”
The standard has been set, particularly after last summer’s effort helped yield 12 victories and a College Football Playoff appearance.
“I think it was kind of the expectation (that) everybody is going to do their job, everybody is going to go out there and really be deliberate with what they’re doing,” said junior outside linebacker Tevis Bartlett, who tallied two tackles and recovered a fumble on Saturday. “There’s that standard there of, we expect your best every time, and I think that’s why we were so successful last year.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
If instant replay were available during spring practices, the Purple team would have won 14-0. On 3rd-and-4 from the White team’s 6-yard line, Browning lofted a pass to redshirt freshman receiver Jordan Chin in the back left corner of the end zone amid tight coverage by walk-on defensive back Sean Vergara.
Chin leapt, caught the ball and landed, replays showed, with his right foot in bounds. But the official nearest the play ruled it incomplete, and the Purple team settled for a field goal.
Petersen said Browning might be ahead of schedule in his recovery from January shoulder surgery.
Browning didn’t throw much early in the spring – by design – but steadily increased his practice repetitions and was able to participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“He’s got a lot of work to do as we go through the summer, which we’re right on track with where we want to be with him. Maybe even a little bit ahead,” Petersen said. “He’s ready to go in terms of no limitation on throws or anything like that. I think as we head in he’ll get his timing and his rhythm back and be ready to go in August.”
EXTRA POINTS: Players who did not participate included receivers Chico McClatcher and K.J. Young, linebackers Connor O’Brien, DJ Beavers and Kyler Manu, defensive lineman Greg Gaines, tight end Michael Neal, defensive back Brandon Lewis and running back Lavon Coleman, who missed most of spring while finishing a class. … Redshirt freshman Kamari Pleasant led all rushers with 40 yards on nine carries. Fourth-year junior quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels took the most reps under center, completing 7-of-17 passes for 74 yards with an interception to redshirt freshman safety Isaiah Gilchrist. Mason Stone, a walk-on defensive back, had the day’s first interception, off a deep pass attempt by Tony Rodriguez.