Huskies Insider Blog

Center of attention is the quiet leader of UW line

At nightfall, the August temperatures were still plenty comfortable for silly games.

The popular post-practice contest is when coach Steve Sarkisian, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and the team quarterbacks, including starter Keith Price, line up near midfield and try and throw passes through the goalposts - to see who has the most life in their arm.

Except on Friday night - the day before the team's second fall-camp scrimmage - center Drew Schaefer got involved. And his passes looked more like shot put heaves - high and short - with the same wayward accuracy, too.

"Sometimes we like to show the quarterbacks," Schaefer said, "our hidden talents, too."

All Sarkisian cares about is one talent in this offensive line - protecting by blocking.

In the center of it all - literally - is Schaefer, who has really settled into the role of line captain.

"He's not trying as hard to do everything, either. Sometimes a guy takes over at center and you feel like you are the center and you have to do so much - 'I have to do this, do that, be the vocal leader,'" Sarkisian said. "Well, let (Schaefer) play center and be really good at center, and let the tackles be the tackles and the guards be the guards and I think it took him a year and he understands that and that comes from trust - believing in Senio (Kelemete's) call, believing in (Erik) Kohler's call and understanding that Colin Porter knows what's coming and can give him information to help him.

"So all in all I think it's a trust factor and he is there."

The night practice Friday was as good as the offensive line has been all fall camp. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt called for a lot of blitz-package stuff, and the quintet held up just fine.

"They did a nice job in the blitz pickup drill. They did a nice in some of our move-the-ball segment stuff," Sarkisian said. "I think they are coming together. What I like about them the most is their communication."

The one camp surprise who continues to impress night-in and night-out is guard Colin Tanigawa, a redshirt freshman from Pasadena, Calif.

"He is just a physical, nasty offensive lineman. He is smart. For being a redshirt freshman, he already has a really good grip on the offense," Schaefer said. "And like I said, he kind of provides that aggressiveness that we kind of look to sometimes. He is always out there and knocking people off the ball. I am excited to see him play this year."

Other tidbits:

* There went Quinton Richardson - bad left ankle and all. Here came Richardson, striding along Friday with no protective boot to speak of.

If the senior from Seattle was slated to miss a few weeks with a high ankle sprain, he looks certainly intent to shorten the duration.

And Sarkisian admitted as much after practice.

"I don't think Quinton's (injury) was as bad as we had initially thought," the third-year UW coach said. "He's out of the boot. But we won't attempt anything until next week. The rest and rehab of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, let's just see where he's at."

* Whereas Richardson was spry, running back Chris Polk - the day after arthroscopic knee surgery - looked in more discomfort, and moved around less freely Friday.

"He moved around really well yesterday. And we knew he’d be a little bit more sore today just from having surgery, so we wanted to keep him of his feet," Sarkisian said. "But he feels good. If you talk to Chris, he’d tell you the same thing – he feels good."

* With defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu (hand) in and out of action - his wrist was sore, and he did limited work Friday - his absence has given true freshman Danny Shelton and redshirt freshman Lawrence Lagafuaina to really make an impression on Holt and company.

Suddenly, even with Ta'amu ailing a bit, and Semisi Tokolahi (leg) working his way back slowly to full action, the depth at defensive tackle is the best it has been since Sarkisian was hired.

"That's the beauty of competition," Sarkisian said. "Danny Shelton has stepped in and done some good things, and he kind of awoken Lawrence."

* In somewhat of a surprise, Sarkisian named the five linebacker who would play on defense, at least in the early part of the season - starters Cort Dennison (inside), John Timu (strongside) and Princeton Fuimaono (weakside); and backups Thomas Tutogi (inside) and Garret Gilliland (inside).

* Friday live-period highlights: Price was 12-of-14 for 126 yards, but was picked off by safety Sean Parker. ... Nick Montana hit on his first 12 passes, including a 77-yard touchdown to receiver Kasen Williams, who snatched the high pass along the right seam and was gone. ... Bishop Sankey ripped off a 65-yard touchdown run.

* Other short-hit stuff: Dennison (leg) was kicked in the shin during individual work and was a non-participant in the live period Friday. He likely will also be limited in today’s scrimmage, too. … Strong safety Taz Stevenson (knee) returned to full action for the first time this fall camp Friday – and looked rusty. … Rule out running back Kyle Lewis coming to the UW this season. He was denied eligibility by the NCAA, and cannot enroll.