Not pretending to know the ideal spring-camp schedule, I asked UW coach Steve Sarkisian after practice Saturday what he expected the final two weeks to bring heading into the Spring Game on April 30:
"Obviously our installation is minimal to none now as we head into the final two weeks. It's about refining. It's about fine-tuning, (being) more attentive to details, understanding nuances and calls and schemes and taking that next step. It's not just about learning, now it's about playing fast and understand what we're trying to get done."
Just for the record, he sounds every bit the serious, narrow-focused coach who makes himself successful in the NCAA Division I ranks.
For each position group, here is a personal synopsis of what I expect to see from here on out:
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QUARTERBACKStarter: Jake LockerPlayer I'm paying attention to: Keith Price. Yeah, newcomer Nick Montana has gotten all the fanfare, and autograph-seekers out. A retooled Price looked much-improved early on, but kind of hit a wall last week (and one day, Montana took more snaps than the redshirt freshman). Want to see, in absence of a veteran presence, if he resembles the dependable backup Sarkisian desperately needs.
RUNNING BACKStarter: Chris Polk (shoulder/out)Player I'm paying attention to: Johri Fogerson. Yes, plenty of buzz has built around newcomers Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, who are a different breed of running back than the UW has had as a Sarkisian recruit. As it stands, Fogerson is likely the No. 4 tailback. How will he respond to that? He could carve out a niche as a returner and third-down back. But it's really up to him.
FULLBACKStarter: Austin SylvesterPlayer I'm paying attention to: Demitrius Bronson. For many of the same reasons as Fogerson – except in this case, the Kentwood High product has been squeezed out of the crowded tailback rotation. Clearly he's a better runner than Sylvester or Dorson Boyce, but can he fill the other roles – receiving and blocking – as well as those guys?
TIGHT ENDStarter: Kavario MiddletonPlayer I'm paying attention to: Marlion Bennett. Such a peculiar position which is a mainstay in the Sarkisian offense. Not sure the second-year coach has uncovered the prototype thus far, which means Bennett could be a wild card in the search. Great athlete coming off a superb offseason, he's getting stuff on film for coaches to study in late spring and early summer.
OFFENSIVE LINEMENStarters: C Drew Schaefer, LT Senio Kelemete, RT Cody Habben (shoulder/out), LG Ryan Tolar, RG Mykenna IkeharaPlayer I'm paying attention to: Schaefer. OK, he's a brain-iac. Yes, he's got leadership skills. But what happens next fall when Oregon State bulldozer Stephen Paea comes hunting Locker up the middle? For what it's worth, Tolar never really looked fully comfortable at center last season, and Schaefer does. The spring game will be interesting to monitor in Schaefer's behalf.
DEFENSIVE LINEMENStarters: DE Talia Crichton, DT Alameda Ta'amu, DT/DE Cameron Elisara and DT De'Shon Matthews OR DT Tyrone Duncan OR DE Kalani Aldrich (knee/out) OR DE/DT Everrette Thompson (foot/out) OR DT Sione Potoa'e (still at Lakes High)Player I'm paying attention to: Elisara. Obviously defensive coordinator Nick Holt prefers a rotation with many moving parts, and Elisara could be key to the whole operation. Specifically, the key could be the nerve issue in Elisara's right shoulder, which could not be fixed through surgery in the offseason. So far, no problems – and coaches have moved Elisara outside more this spring to avoid the mass collisions inside.
LINEBACKERSStarters: OLB Mason Foster, MLB Cort Dennison, OLB Alvin Logan OR Matt HoustonPlayer I'm paying attention to: Logan. Position switches aren't always smooth, and the former safety has certainly made great strides – even with Houston nipping at his heels for a job. Sarkisian has talked about Logan also being a pass-rushing specialist on certain downs.
SECONDARYStarters: CB Desmond Trufant (groin/out), FS Nate Fellner, SS Nate Williams, CB Adam LongPlayer I'm paying attention to: CB Quinton Richardson. It's no secret the Huskies need a bigger cover man in the lineup. Richardson was that guy the first half of 2009, but on-field lapses – and a penchant for running his mouth off the field – pushed him down the depth chart by season's end. Strangely, especially over the last week, the O'Dea product has been quietly a savage presence, and is making noise with his play.
SPECIAL TEAMSStarters: PK Erik Folk, P Will Mahan, KR/PR Johri Fogerson, Jesse Callier, Deontae Cooper, Chris Polk, Cody Bruns and Jordan PolkPlayer I'm paying attention to: Callier. With the NCAA rule changes on wedge-blocking on kickoffs, and the nagging worry of overextending Chris Polk, Callier seems like the idea guy to become the team's most effective returner. He did not enroll early to sit around, and Sarkisian has quickly recognized that.