Yes, it’s true. After five practices, Touchdown Watch 2016 is over. The Washington Huskies’ offense cracked the end zone on Friday for the first time since camp began on Monday, and they did it twice. Read on for some more notes and observations from what turned into a pretty physical, spirited session as the Huskies practiced in full pads for the first time.
--- First, the touchdowns. The first came on a red-zone throw (it was on the far end of the practice field, so I didn’t get an exact yardage) from walk-on quarterback Blake Gregory to redshirt freshman tight end Michael Neal during the first 11-on-11 period of the day.
The second was more impressive. Facing a third-and-long from the defense’s 35-yard line, Tony Rodriguez hit sophomore receiver Quinten Pounds in stride on a slant route, and Pounds outran both cornerback Austin Joyner and safety Brandon Beaver for a touchdown.
The offense also fared well during a third-and-short drill earlier in practice. Notably, K.J. Carta-Samuels made a nice throw over the middle to tight end David Ajamu, and also executed a quarterback sneak for a first down.
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In fact, defensive lineman Elijah Qualls had a lot of nice things to say about the way the offense played today.
“They did a hell of a job,” Qualls said. “Today was definitely one of those days where I did not have anything to hold against the offense. They executed when they needed to. They ran the plays when they needed to. They made the right blocks, receivers made clutch plays, the running backs read the holes like they were supposed to, the O-line blocked like they were supposed to, the quarterbacks made plays when they were supposed to. They had a great practice today. That being said, at the same time, defense, we need to step it up. We can’t allow that stuff to happen, or we can’t let it happen even if it was just a simple slip-up or if they were just better than us on that play. That’s something we’ve got to get better at.”
--- Today also featured the funniest moment of camp. After sophomore cornerback Jordan Miller and sophomore receiver Quinten Pounds got into a bit of a scrap -- Miller was also feuding with a defensive player earlier -- the two were made to hold hands and walk a few laps around the practice field before they could return to the workout.
This tactic, Qualls said, is called “Lovers’ Lane,” and it’s one of coach Chris Petersen’s preferred methods of in-practice punishment.
Qualls said he’s only had to do it once, after a fight with offensive lineman John Turner.
“That’s the first place you’re going,” Qualls said. “There’s no escaping it. He sends you right out there. He tries to kill off that beef as soon as it happens.”
It usually works, he said.
--- The first-team offensive line remains the same. From left to right: Trey Adams, Jake Eldrenkamp, Coleman Shelton, Shane Brostek, Andrew Kirkland. The second-team offensive line continues to feature Jared Hilbers, Michael Kneip, Matt James, Jesse Sosebee and Kaleb McGary.
--- The first-team defense that took the field for the initial 11-on-11 period featured Qualls and Jaylen Johnson up front; Psalm Wooching, Keishawn Bierria, Azeem Victor and Joe Mathis at linebacker; and a nickel package in the defensive backfield that included Miller, Darren Gardenhire, Kevin King, Budda Baker and Jojo McIntosh.
--- The second-team defense: Greg Gaines and Shane Bowman up front; Tevis Bartlett, Sean Constantine, Ben Burr-Kirven and Connor O’Brien at linebacker; and a nickel package that included freshman Byron Murphy, redshirt freshman Austin Joyner, third-year sophomore Brandon Lewis, fifth-year senior Brandon Beaver and fourth-year junior Trevor Walker.
--- Freshman cornerback Kentrell Love had the only interception of the day. He picked off Rodriguez during a 7-on-7 drill.
--- Aside from the two touchdowns, the offense also drove for a pair of field goals during the final 11-on-11 period.
--- Tomorrow’s full-pads practice is open to the public and will be followed by Picture Day. Practice is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.