Practice Spotlight - Day Two

SEATTLE - With Jim Lambright and a host of recruits out to see Washington practice Wednesday under pretty chilly conditions, the energy and enthusiasm exhibited by the Huskies during their first spring practice Monday was again evident. Perhaps there is something to these 8 o'clock practices...

Play of the Day - It was definitely Will Shamburger's pick off of Derrick Brown, not only because it was a pick-six and he had a defensive convoy with him that was really excited by the play - but also because it was on the sideline right by the defense, so as soon as the junior safety picked it off the whole sideline exploded. They were jacked up.

I have a runner-up, just because it was a bit humorous. During 7-7's, a play was brought back due to an offensive pass interference call by the officials that were brought in to work the practice. The flag went flying into the middle of the field where the infraction occurred, and as soon as he saw it new DC Justin Wilcox scrambled downfield to pick it up for the official, who was heading into the field from the sideline. I have to assume he was happy with the call.

Unit of the Day - Have to say the Defensive Ends impressed today as a unit. Sure you're going to have your ups and downs in the OL/DL one-on-one session, but in the TEAM periods they really got after things. Andrew Hudson has been a force already in two practices - forcing a sack Wednesday during the final period and getting singled out by coach Sarkisian - and Josh Shirley has been there every step of the way. Those two were expected to come out firing on all cylinders; what has been arguably the most pleasant surprise of camp so far has been the work put in by senior DE Talia Crichton. He was forced into action his freshman year and for the past two years has struggled to make an impact based on what his first year at UW suggested - but no more. The senior looks physically great, is moving very well, and is probably as healthy as he's been since he first stepped on campus back in 2009.

Players of the Day - Desmond Trufant, Andrew Hudson, Will Shamburger and Antavius Sims were all singled out by Sark after practice was done, but I'll add more - James Atoe. The 6-foot-6, 332-pound guard from The Dalles absolutely rag-dolled Josh Shirley during one-on-ones, and in the team periods seemed to play as consistently as senior Drew Schaefer. The team needs Atoe to step up immediately, as they have serious depth concerns along the offensive line right now, but he looks like he's more than ready to step up to the challenge.

Lessons from Lambo - Spoke with former UW Head Coach Jim Lambright. He said he didn't really know the new defensive coaches all that well, but based on what he saw at practice he came away with two main thoughts: They are using more man principles with their defensive backs, and they are also definitely showing a lot more 34 formations up front.

He said that with the man principles in the secondary, it has showed up immediately in terms of playing 'snugger' to the receivers. And with the schemes up front, he said when he thinks of odd and even fronts with a 3-4 concept, he thinks of 3 down linemen in the odd front and 2 down linemen in the even front. With only two down linemen in the even front, it gives you lots of flexibility in terms of being able to help stop offenses that try and spread you out - especially the zone read teams like Oregon, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona, etc… That gives some perspective as to why the linemen Washington did recruit for 2012 - Pio Vatuvei, Josh Banks, Damion Turpin - are all players that are about 6-3, 6-4 and are between 260 and 275 pounds. They aren't straight defensive tackles; they can hybrid and play either odd or even fronts because they can explode into the play and run from sideline to sideline as well as sprint upfield to wreck the pocket are keys now when trying to contain spread offenses - as well as always trying to win the numbers game at the line of scrimmage. With the various defenses they can play off a 34 base, you could now rush two and drop nine if you wanted because you now still have big athletes that can cover in space, or you could pound the gaps inside on downs where they've read a run tendency.

Leading by example - Even though it was 'Turnover Wednesday', the drills they went through weren't that dissimilar from the same drills they've been running under Sarkisian, but the new coaches put their own 'spin' on them - literally. Peter Sirmon was in charge of the scoop-and-score drill, but he emphasized the possession first. 'Don't be a hero!' could be heard from the sidelines, his way of making sure the players retained the ball first and foremost, and then worried about advancing from that point. Instead of rolling the ball at the players as they came out of the bags, Sirmon would spin it hard, making the ball pretty much impossible to 'scoop' - thereby placing a premium on possession first.

Below are quotes from various defensive players after Wednesday's practice.

Nate Fellner
Taz Stevenson
Josh Shirley

Definitely a lot more recruits out there this morning, as well as high school coaches. Sammie Long (Lakes), Tere Calloway (Seattle Prep), Cory English (Auburn, UW signee), Kevin Shelton (Auburn, younger brother of Danny Shelton), Michael Cummings (Meadowdale), Austin Kanouse (South Kitsap) and others.

Cody Bruns (ankle) and John Timu (hamstring) were the only new additions to the walking wounded, although both injuries weren't serious enough to keep them out completely. The three players that wore red Monday - James Sample, Travis Feeney, and Cooper Pelluer - were in red again Wednesday. Top Stories