Two-tailback formations are touch and go. Players seem to love them in order to create favorable matchups. Some old-school coaches hate them, because it can weaken protection schemes.
The Huskies showed a tad of it in spring camp, but not with the personnel grouping that coach Steve Sarkisian really thinks is most effective in that set – sophomore Johri Fogerson and redshirt freshman Chris Polk.
They put it on display Wednesday night during a third-down offense period. On the first play, a third-and-1, Polk split wide, and Fogerson took a handoff up the gut to gain a first down.
The next play, it was Polk who got loose for a 6-yard burst.
"It offers us good versatility. They're both talented guys obviously running and catching, but what they've shown early in camp, they're both very physical, so we can do some different things when they're both in there together."
Later in the session, Sarkisian paired Fogerson with Willie Griffin.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they all could do it," Sarkisian said. "But Chris and Johri are our most versatile guys."
The brain trust has some background utilizing two tailbacks in the same formation. Running backs coach Joel Thomas said he did it a lot at Purdue, and Sarkisian, with his wealth of great running backs at USC, tried it as well.
"We did it quite a bit when we had Reggie (Bush) and LenDale (White) in 2005," Sarkisian said. "It's a good way to create more versatility … and do different things."
Thomas said he doesn't expect it to be a stable in the offense – "Is it going to be the base of our offense. I highly doubt it," he confirmed – but added this is what preseason practices are for: Experimenting.
"We're still throwing mud at the wall, and seeing what sticks," Thomas said.
Other Thursday episodes:
&bull Twenty hours after he hit the turf and rolled his right ankle, Fogerson was back in pads. He did run through a kickoff-return drill early in the session before getting his ankle re-taped by the UW athletic trainers. That pretty much concluded his day.
"He'll be fine," Sarkisian said. "If we were playing today, he could have pushed it and played."
Out of pads, and not practicing: Safety Victor Aiyewa (head), linebacker Matt Houston, offensive guard Morgan Rosborough (shoulder), offensive tackle Terence Thomas (foot) and defensive tackle Craig Noble (knee).
In pads, not practicing: Safety Jason Wells (achilles) and linebacker Joshua Gage (hand).
Wearing red jersey: Safety Greg Walker (elbow).
Fullback Paul Homer (hamstring) and offensive tackle Nick Scott (left ankle) returned and were participants. Center Ryan Tolar came of practice midway with a right toe injury, went back and limped out again. His status is uncertain.
&bull Yes, there was a Trufant back on the field Thursday – true freshman Desmond Trufant, out of Wilson High School. He finished up his academic course to get eligible, and was immediately thrust into action, without pads.
Receiver Jermaine Kearse welcomed him back by catching a touchdown pass over him while Trufant was tugging at his jersey (would have been called pass interference) in 7-on-7 action. Then Jordan Polk beat him to the end zone. And Trufant was called for another pass-interference penalty on receiver James Johnson before cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin came over for instruction.
"We'll push him along. You guys will see him a lot," Sarkisian said. "He's going to struggle some. Things are new to him. He got beat a couple times in 7-on-7. He's got the mindset and the work ethic, and he'll be fine."
&bull So, what is David Batts? A safety? A cornerback? A rover? Right now, it's tryout time for the transfer from El Camino College in California.
"Just trying to figure out what he does the best," Sarkisian said. "We don't have a lot of information (about him). It's like having a freshman."
&bull Quarterback Jake Locker had a relatively quiet day. He was 4-of-5 for 23 yards and a touchdown in first-down offense. He was 1-of-2 for 6 yards on first-and-length-of-the-football-field drills. And he was 1-of-2 for 5 yards in just-outside-the-red-zone scrimmaging against the first-string defense.
Locker was asked if he thought Washington state products had more of a vested interest in turning the program's fortunes around.
"No, I don't think so. Everyone came here to play college football. We all have the same goal, to win football games," Locker said. "It doesn't matter where you're from, the way you grew up, what's happened … (with) brothers and sisters, it doesn't matter. We're all part of this team, and have common goals."
&bull Kicker Erik Folk made three more field goals of 40 yards or longer (40, 43, 49).
&bull Who said baseball can't help on the football field? During stretching, Sarkisian yelled out to his guys, getting them to stretch their arms and legs as far as they could, "Like Nolan Ryan throwing a shutout."