No Chris Polk. No Jesse Callier.
No problem whatsoever.
On a day running backs would obviously see a spike in workload – strong wind gusts swirled all around Husky Stadium on Saturday – newcomer Deontae Cooper was the standout during the University of Washington's first full spring-camp scrimmage in front of 500-750 spectators.
The Perris, Calif. product was so impressive on his 29-yard touchdown gallop during the first No. 2 offensive-versus-No. 2 defense series, the coaches threw him into the fray with the first string offense the next series.
It got better, and the touchdown run grew longer – 52 yards – as the tailback racked up 114 yards and two scores on 12 carries.
"Cooper, he's an all-around good running back. He's out there making plays, running hard and he's real explosive," Huskies linebacker Mason Foster said. "I can't wait see what he's going to do in the Spring Game, and beyond that."
Johri Fogerson might not have had the touches – or production – that his counterpart had, but pleased UW coach Steve Sarkisian as well. The O'Dea product ran for 15 yards on five carries (and also a 36-yard run called back by a offensive holding penalty), added a 9-yard reception from Jake Locker and quietly had a nice all-around effort.
"I think Johri has had a nice week. Go back to Tuesday, maybe even back to last Saturday, he's put together three or four really good practices in a row. He's playing physical. He's running the ball well. He's pass-protecting well," Sarkisian said.
"Those two guys (Cooper and Fogerson) – unfortunately we didn't have Jesse (Callier), and I don't know if we'll have him the rest of spring – have been extremely impressive."
Cooper was barely touched bursting up the right seam on his first touchdown – a scene UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt did not take too kindly too. After the series, Holt adamantly voiced his displeasure with cornerback Anthony Gobern, who did not get in Cooper's way during the run.
His second touchdown came out of the shotgun. Locker paused, then handed the ball off to him. He scooted down the left sideline and outran the coverage en route to the end zone.
"It happens. Coop does a nice job. We kind of screwed (the play) up ourselves," Holt said. "As we played more snaps, we got better, better and better."
Better turned into the best unit, frankly, on the field for much of the scrimmage.
Yeah, Locker's numbers were OK – he was 11-of-22 for 146 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown strike to Jermaine Kearse. The receiver from Lakes High had an 100-yard receiving game, and did damage on crossing routes.
But the UW's No. 1 defense was able to get pressure on Locker. Of the seven series the senior from Ferndale directed, three resulted in scores – a Cooper touchdown, a Kearse touchdown and a 45-yard field goal by Erik Folk at the end of the first half.
"It's always great when you have a great pass rush, (it) forces him to do things he doesn't want to do. It speeds him up," Foster said. "I think it was definitely uncomfortable for him."
Tidbits from Saturday:
• None of the quarterbacks – Locker and backups Keith Price and Nick Montana – were great. None were terrible. The wind had plenty of effect on the throws – a reason why Sarkisian did not call for a lot of downfield passes.
Price was 6-of-10 and was arguably the most accurate passer of the trio. He had 84 yards.
Montana finished 3-of-10 for 21 yards, and his passes landed all over the place.
"I know this much, if they were able to throw the ball today, they can play in the Meadowlands (former stadium for the New York Giants and Jets)," Sarkisian said. "It was windy. It's challenging. It's hard. It's hard for a fifth-year senior to throw in this stuff, never mind a couple of freshman kids. I thought they fought through. This stuff was not easy today. It's part of the growing and the learning curve."
• Some quick-hit scrimmage stuff:1, Running back Demitrius Bronson and receiver Jordan Polk – both past spring-camp standouts – did not have their best days.
Bronson had six carries for minus-10 yards, including a botched pitch from Price that resulted in a 9-yard loss.
Polk had one reception for minus-1 yard. He also had four incompletions go his way, with at least half of them being dropped passes.
2, Defensive end De'Shon Matthews had a quarterback hurry of Locker (No. 1 defense); defensive tackle Cameron Elisara had a critical stop of Cooper on a third-and-inches carry during the two-minute drill at the end of the first half (No. 1 defense); Foster knocked a pass down intended for Chris Izbicki (No. 1 defense); linebacker Alvin Logan had a sack of Locker (No. 1 defense).
Safety Will Shamburger was in on a couple of pass deflections, and tackled Bronson for a 2-yard loss (No. 2 defense). linebacker Matt Houston had sacks on back-to-back possessions in the second half (No. 2 defense); defensive ends Pete Galbraith and Peter Follmer, a pair of walk-ons, shared a sack of Montana late in the scrimmage (No. 2 defense).
3, The scrimmage had 78 plays – 37 in the first half, and 41 in the second half.
"I thought it was good just to watch our guys play football," Sarkisian said "We do so much situational work when we practice that when you get to scrimmage and get to put it all together – whether it's first-and-10, or third down or blitzes or fringe red zone or backed-up situations, the two-minute drill – I thought all that work was good to watch our guys have to play, and not have a coach standing behind them telling them what's coming, and what we need to do. All in all, it was fun to watch our guys compete and play in all the special situations."
• Quick-hit personnel stuff1, Safety Nate Fellner (knee) did not play, which was the latest surprise addition. Sarkisian said after treatment and a day off earlier this week, the sophomore was able to practice Thursday. But on Friday, his knee swelled up again.
2, Defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu also sat out, but had nothing to do with a hyperextended elbow injury he suffered earlier in the week. This time, it was academics.
3, Those who have battled injuries some or all of spring who didn't participate Saturday included Chris Polk (shoulder), offensive tackle Cody Habben (shoulder), safety Victor Aiyewa (shoulder), cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin), receiver D'Andre Goodwin (hamstring), defensive ends Kalani Aldrich (knee), defensive tackle Everrette Thompson (foot) and Callier (knee).
4, Walk-on Daniel Kanczugowski started the scrimmage as the starting right tackle ahead of Skyler Fancher. … Drew Schaefer started at center, and shifted out to right tackle as well. … Gregory Christine was the No. 2 center at the start.
SPRING SCRIMMAGE STATISTICS
• PASSINGJake Locker, 11-of-22, 146 yards, TDKeith Price, 6-of-10, 84 yardsNick Montana, 3-of-10, 21 yards
• RUSHINGDeontae Cooper, 12 rushes, 114 yards, 2 TDsJohri Fogerson, 5 rushes, 15 yardsDemitrius Bronson, 6 rushes, minus-10 yards
• RECEIVINGJermaine Kearse, 6 catches, 103 yards, TDLuther Leonard, 3 catches, 44 yardsDevin Aguilar, 3 catches, 33 yards
• SCORING PLAYSCooper 29 run (Folk kick), 1st halfCooper 52 run (Folk kick), 1st halfFG, Folk 45, 1st halfKearse 28 pass from Locker (Folk kick), 2nd half