Practice Spotlight - Day Four

SEATTLE - It was the second week of Spring Football for Washington, and Monday's practice was their first with full pads. Whether they set their alarms late or forgot to set them at all, the Huskies came out a little sluggish, not showing the energy or enthusiasm of earlier practices.

There were still plenty of highlights, as well as individuals that have starred so far in camp, players hand-picked by UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian for recognition.

The List:
Play of the Day: I have two. The first one was a great battle between Nate Fellner and Austin Seferian-Jenkins that Fellner looked to have in his grasp before ASJ was able to regain control and wrest it from the senior safety before falling to the ground. The second was another pass that looked like it could have gone either way. Kasen Williams appeared wide open in the middle of the field, but Princeton Fuimaono flashed right in front of him before the ball got to the sophomore receiver. Fuimaono was not able to secure the ball; in fact it went past him right to Williams, who had to quickly snag the ball and control it. He bobbled it a couple of times, but was then cooly able to bring it down while falling backward.
Players of the Day: I'll go with the ones Coach Sark mentioned in his post-practice interview; James Atoe, Micah Hatchie, Talia Crichton, Greg Ducre, Michael Hartvigson, and James Johnson. With the offensive line needed shoring up, both Atoe and Hatchie are doing yeoman's work for Dan Cozzetto, and they are doing it with a smile. Both are going to be counted on for heavy minutes this fall, and if the first four days of spring are any indication - it shouldn't be a problem. With Crichton, he may have gone overlooked with the impressive play of Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson, but he's fully healthy for the first time in a long time, and it's showing - and when he's healthy, we know he's capable of making a mess of things in the backfield. He's a senior, so it's his time to shine and he knows it. Same goes for Johnson, who Sark singled out for his leadership on and off the field. The 6-foot-1 senior receiver is an engaging personality, so it's not surprising to hear that he's been using that personality to bring his group closer together. We've seen him have hot springs, only to fade off during the season - but most of that is because of injury; when he's been available and healthy, Johnson has been productive.

Like Crichton, Hartvigson will no doubt be overshadowed by his higher-profile position mate(s), but he's one of the big reasons why tight end went from being a huge liability the year Sarkisian got to UW, and why it's arguably one of the big strengths of the Huskies' offense. Desmond Trufant will have been a four-year starter by the time he's done at UW, and it's always been that other side that's been a revolving door of players; this time it's Ducre who has the chance to secure the other cornerback spot, and right now it looks like he's doing a bang-up job despite pressure from redshirt frosh Marcus Peters.
1) The Coaches were getting after it a little bit more now that the pads are on - Don't know if that has directly to do with the coaches wanting the players to be more physical and aggressive, but the coaches were spicing up the airwaves this morning with some interesting dialog. It's clear they wanted their guys to be sharper and cleaner on a day in which it looked like both sides were swimming at times. The only thing I can deduce from that is both sides are probably getting crammed with new terminology and are thinking more than playing at this point. Those edges will get smoothed out as camp goes along, and they have to.

2) Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are man-children - Not to state the obvious, but Williams and Seferian-Jenkins are the two poster boys for why it's important for the in-state schools to keep the top local talent home. Seferian-Jenkins' exploits in basketball and football have been well-documented in the past couple of months, and today we got a healthy dose of why it's going to be nearly impossible for defenses to stop Williams. At nearly 220 pounds, the true sophomore is physically too overpowering. During a few plays today, including one really impressive catch along the sidelines, defenders will try and out-muscle him, try and drape themselves on him like a pea-coat, but that doesn't work. He literally sheds them like he's taking off that coat, and doesn't miss a stride as he heads downfield. And the effortless manner by which he pushes people off of him is nothing short of brilliant.

3) The Offensive Line is coming together - The First Team offensive line consisted of Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles, Drew Schaefer, James Atoe and Ben Riva. Granted, with Colin Porter and Colin Tanigawa out and Erik Kohler somewhat limited, that's about the best you're going to do right now with UW's OL. But that's not too shabby to begin with, and if you take it from a pure athleticism standpoint that's probably the best OL the Huskies could field anyway. And with the extra reps they are taking the initiative. With Sarkisian singling out Atoe and Hatchie, it means the guys on the OL are doing some damage. Anchored by the to-be three year starter Schaefer, they have some experience from last year and need to build off of it in a hurry. The only question marks from a playing time standpoint is Charles, a redshirt frosh with no game experience last year, and Riva - one year ahead of Charles but with basically the same lack of game experience - but both are blessed with very good athleticism, as well as a nasty temperament. They should take advantage of the extra reps this spring and carry that on to the fall, where depth will become the chief concern for the UW OL.

4) The new defensive coaches are not going to suffer fools gladly - During one particular play, Justin Wilcox could be overheard, muttering to no one in particular…"How retarded! It's just not that hard!" There's no question Wilcox is going to be counting the gray hairs accumulated this spring, but given his natural positive demeanor and approach toward teaching, he'll get through spring relatively unscathed. Don't know if I can say the same about some of the other new defensive coaches, including Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi. It's evident the frustration levels are slowly moving up the Richter Scale, but who knows if it's ever going to be enough to elicit a volcanic reaction. If it does, lord help us. One thing became quite clear Monday; if the players don't get it now, it's going to be drilled into their heads to the point where they'll be begging never to hear the words ever again.

5) Duff McKagan loves UW Football - The former Guns N' Roses bassist - a Seattle native - was at practice for a little bit before leaving tonight for GNR's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction later this week. Then it's off to Central and South America with his new band, Loaded. But in the meantime he tries to squeeze out as much information on UW football as he can during his time in Seattle. In fact his family has a house in Laurelhurst where you can see Husky Stadium. Last spring we saw Duff at the Dempsey Indoor, sporting a Jake Locker jersey and taking in a UW spring practice. He also is an avid writer, talking sports all the time through a column he pens on ESPN. One of these days we're going to have Duff on our radio show and it's going to be nothing but sports. No rock and roll questions allowed.
Quotable: We spoke with Jesse Callier, Micah Hatchie and Michael Hartvigson Monday (Thanks to Scott Eklund for help with transcriptions)…

Jesse Callier Monday Quotes
Micah Hatchie Monday Quotes
Michael Hartvigson Monday Quotes

Recruits/Guests in the House - Mentioned Duff McKagan above; UW QB signee Jeff Lindquist showed up very early for a few minutes and them popped back out. Chris Polk was also at practice, watching things from the sidelines.
Redshirts - Nothing different here today; James Sample, Travis Feeney, and Cooper Pelluer are all still in red and limited to what they can do at practice (non-contact drills). Top Stories