The rain, forecast for a few days, finally arrived, and just in time for the University of Washington's first real mini-scrimmage – both Husky Stadium scoreboards were turned on, and time ran off the clock – at the end of practice Thursday.
Offensively, Jake Locker and the first-string unit moved the ball. But was it far enough?
Coach Steve Sarkisian thought so after the offense faced situational second- and third-down distances, declaring the offense the winner.
But he also conceded, "There were a lot of plays right at the stick, I'm sure both staffs will be counting before we get to this team meeting. It's going to the committee tonight. We'll see."
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Locker did his part, going 7-of-10 for 105 yards. He he was sacked twice, but broke off a 35-yard scamper.
But when it came down to third-down situations, under center, Locker appeared to miss on all of his first five plays. From the shot gun on the next series, his run and two completions to running backs (Chris Polk, Johri Fogerson) did net three first downs on five attempts.
And in Locker's final appearance, he faced a second-and-7 and third-and-7 plays. The first play was the one receiver Jermaine Kearse wishes he could have back – he dropped a sure 48-yard touchdown catch on an over-the-shoulder attempt.
On third down, Locker did complete a 7-yard pass to receiver D'Andre Goodwin.
So, The News Tribune's analysis? Throw in all the dink-and-dime stuff from backup quarterback Ronnie Fouch (7-of-8, 71 yards), it appeared the defense had the upper hand – slightly. Worse-case, it was a tie.
"I was proud of the offense today. As we talked about yesterday, the defense brought the intensity of the first day of shoulder pads. Today … our offense came back and matched the intensity. That is how it should be," Sarkisian said.
As far as the downpour? "I think they got excited. (There was) supposed to be rain in the forecast since Monday, and it hadn't really occurred. When it came today, I think they got excited," Sarkisian added. "Plus there was a couple of songs they liked (from the sideline speaker), it got them going."
Other tidbits from Thursday:
&bull Appears junior-college cornerback Dominique Gaisie's tenure at the UW will be short-lived. He practiced Monday, but was ruled ineligible by the NCAA's eligibility clearinghouse Tuesday, and had been out since. Sarkisian said it's likely he won't return this season, or at all.
"We wish him the best of luck," the coach said. "He's a very good kid."
Gaisie's departure means three JC transfers – Gaisie, Daniel Mafoe and Johnny Tivao – won't be joining the team.
&bull Defensive end Darrion Jones (hand), fullback Paul Homer (hamstring) and safety Nate Williams (knee) did not practice. Jones had X-rays on his hand, but Sarkisian didn't think it was too serious. And Williams could have returned "if it was game week"
&bull Three of the young defensive linemen have really come in to fall camp sharp, and could be game-day contributors. Talia Crichton, Andru Pulu, the Federal Way High graduate, and Semisi Tokolahi have given Sarkisian hope that that position in the future is well-stocked.
&bull The UW goes to full pads starting Friday. Two things will be a priority – one, making sure defenders are tackling properly; and two, which linemen are athletic enough to effectively cut-block.
&bull Here's one thing Sarkisian didn't bring with him from USC: Blaring music all throughout practice. Why? "Gets our guys to stay focused when there are distractions. Also, as coaches, we have to get used to that environment … to get our guys to hear certain things."
&bull The coaching-staff chessboard has been set up for game days on where personnel will be situation.
On the field will be Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Nick Holt, linebackers coach Mike Cox, secondary coach Demetrice Martin, special teams coordinator Johnny Nansen, offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto and receivers coach Jimmie Dougherty.
In the booth will be offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, safeties coach Jeff Mills and graduate assistants Mike Anderson and Brent Miller.
&bull Contacted a couple of folks – one in the Pacific-10 Conference office and one on campus – about how a mass-participation team such as football will deal with the threat of something like swine flu.
Each university is in charge of having its own pandemic response plan, which received a serious jolt when the bird flu hit in 2007. Campus officials had to really evaluate their plans. As a result, it has helped with the emergence of the H1N1 strand of swine flu, which hit the United States last April, and could again this fall.
"We continue to have our discussions (with the schools)," said Duane Lindberg, an associate commissioner of the Pac-10.
Head football athletic trainer Rob Scheidegger gave a presentation to the players about a number of risk-type predicaments – stuff as simple as reporting injuries to stuff as serious as how to deal with a pandemic – prior to fall camp.
And flu shots, which are strongly recommended by the UW's athletic training staff, will be given in early October.