The observation decks throughout Husky Stadium weren't for the faint at heart Wednesday morning as the UW team, fresh off its first training-camp scrimmage, looked flat, especially on offense.
Jake Locker was missing his targets, and appeared animated in his disgust. He just couldn't outdo coach Steve Sarkisian in that department.
Receivers were dropping easy passes. D'Andre Goodwin got an earful from his position coach, Jimmie Dougherty, on pulling out of a route near the sideline.
"We've got to find a way to get out of the mold of being convenience-catchers – when … nobody is around, it's an easy catch," Sarkisian said. "When it's contested, that is when we need to make our plays."
The defense's lax moments were fewer and further between episodes. Starting outside linebacker E.J. Savannah returned to practice, and looked so rusty running with the second-string defense, linebackers coach Mike Cox yelled at the Bellevue standout who appeared confused on who to cover on a pass play, "That's your guy, you've got to finish the play."
Welcome to the midway point of fall camp. Is there a psychological barrier players need to bust through at this juncture?
"Oh, yeah," Sarkisian said.
"Every practice is a challenge. We never want to relax as a coaching staff, and give them the ability to feel relaxed. We want to keep it as intense as possible, keep it as stressful as possible on the football field, so they can understand what it's like to feel comfortable in an intense environment," the coach added.
"Practice after practice, one or two guys move to that level of, 'I feel comfortable in this environment.' Next practice, we get two more guys, and two more guys. Obviously the more guys who feel comfortable in that intense environment, the faster they play. I think we have some other guys who aren't getting comfortable in that environment, and they're starting to see separation in the speed and level and effort of play that's going on."
That, Sarkisian noted, is what has especially transpired since a spirited night practice in full pads Monday, a two-hour scrimmage Tuesday and today's action.
"Without question," he said.
Other notes from the morning:
&bull On Savannah running with the No. 2 defense, Sarkisian said his senior is one that requires a little time to get back up to speed before returning to his rightful place as a starter.
&bull After a good showing in the scrimmage, Drew Schaefer, the redshirt freshman from Sammamish, was back at right tackle with the No. 1 offense. Nick Scott was running with the second-string team.
&bull Fullback Paul Homer (hamstring) and safety Will Shamburger (knee) were not-participants, but did run the stairs at Husky Stadium. Safeties Victor Aiyewa (head) and Jason Wells (achilles) did not practice, instead riding the stationary bikes.
Placekicker Erik Folk (knee) did return to practice.
&bull There was an emphasis on second-down offense for the latter part of practice.
&bull Sarkisian's general assessment after reviewing the film of scrimmage Tuesday: "Our young kids, when they know what they're doing, they're really good players. They play fast, they play hard and are physical. When some calls start coming up that are more foreign to them, it really slows them down – not to the players they can be."
&bull Approximately 300-400 spectators came out for the scrimmage Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, an estimate 10-15. One of those was former UW men's basketball star Spencer Hawes, now in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings. Hawes stayed for the entire session.