Practice Spotlight - Day Eight

SEATTLE - Even though the Washington moved inside Monday and weren't in full pads, Steve Sarkisian was happy with the energy and hunger of his team as they officially moved past the half-way point of Spring Football. He added that he didn't feel as if the team had hit a wall either mentally or physically, and that there was still plenty to work on with the offense when it came to unit execution.

The List:
Play of the Day - Well, there were certainly some very good plays made during various team periods, but it was a play made by Danny Shelton that caught the attention of those watching practice. It was hard to tell exactly what happened from the sidelines because players were blocking the view, but the sophomore defensive tackle just snapped and headed for the exit, smashing a sign that happened to be in his way. Teammates Talia Crichton and Hauoli Jamora went to find him and brought him back minutes later, and by the end of the practice he was back in with the ones - as if nothing happened. Asked at the end what sent Shelton over the edge, Sarkisian simply smiled and said, "It's football. It's just football."

Players of the Day - On offense, it was once again a banner day for Spokane sophomore RB Bishop Sankey. We all knew that Sankey had some wiggle and could do some damage on the outside, but it's his work on the inside - harking back to his Gonzaga Prep days when he played quarterback and had a ton of built-in QB draws to choose from - that has impressed. Jesse Callier and Dezden Petty came back to compete Monday after being dinged up, but Sankey has been the only scholarship RB that has been 100 percent from the start of Spring Football - and it's showing right now in his play.

On defense, James Sample continues to make plays during the periods in which he's allowed to participate, due to his shoulder issues. The redshirt freshman safety had the formidable challenge of defending Austin Seferian-Jenkins down the middle of the field at the end of a 2-minute drill, and timed his leap to bat the ball away at the goal line to perfection. He also could have come up with a couple of other interceptions, but his hands betrayed him. He continues to be at all the right places, and his anticipation in terms of jumping routes and batting passes down has been superb.
1) Players are battling through - This is the time in camp where injuries can start to accumulate and persist to the point where they take you out of spring for good, yet players like Greg Ducre (who had been out with a concussion for the last few practices), Callier and Petty turned up and tried to do as much as they could to get back in the mix. With players that have had injury issues in the past - like Talia Crichton - it's hard not to put them on ice, so to speak, just to err on the side of caution. But Callier, who had been nursing an ankle tweak, and Petty - hip issues - did their best to show Sarkisian and staff that they aren't going to sit by and watch jobs being taken away.

2) It's a fine line between genius and stupidity - As was said in 'Dumb and Dumber', one minute you're chewin' on a burger, the next minute you're dead meat. The same could be said - and kind of was said by Sarkisian - about the offense. During a number of situational periods Monday - 2-minute, overtime, etc… - the offense just wasn't clicking - but they weren't that far off. It was just a piece here or there that wasn't in sync, and when that happens it makes the offense seem ragged.

Granted, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the offensive line lost their anchor in Drew Schaefer and are having to bring along Michael Criste and Siosifa Tufunga quickly, but it also has to do with just not valuing the ball. On one series, they had back-to-back fumbles, and the defense had plenty of opportunities to pick off passes, whether they were tipped at the line of scrimmage or handled in coverage.

3) Competition at kicker? - They may have found a kicker to at least compete with Travis Coons this fall.  Erik Nothstein, a redshirt frosh from Graham-Kapowsin, was 6-7 on his kicks today, including a 25-yarder to win an OT period for the No. 1 offense at the end of practice. Nothstein is part of a group of three kickers just brought in this past week - Kyle McKnight from LaConner and Nate Ryals from Mountlake Terrace are the others - and part of an overall group of five that have tried their hand since the beginning of Spring Football. The two invited kickers at the start of camp, Ferndale's Jacob Dunn and Mihai Ion from Hazen, are no longer listed on the newest Spring Football roster.

4) It's great to see Deontae Cooper cutting again - It may have just been baby cuts and not really for a sustained period of time, but sophomore tailback Deontae Cooper was back at it Monday. It's been a long, hard slog back for Cooper, who has missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries that have kept him on the bench - but today he did some running and cutting exercises with the UW training staff. Cooper's long-term prognosis is still shaky, but as of now he's taking advantage of every opportunity to get his knee healthy for the fall where it's expected he'll be allowed to practice with the team. At some point he's going to have to give the knee a major test to see if he still has a future in the game, but it won't be until fall camp at the earliest.

5) Tight End Crosstraining? - Earlier in camp, Tosh Lupoi was showing Austin Seferian-Jenkins some swim moves - which presumably ASJ could use to help him get off the line of scrimmage during pass plays. Well, Monday it was Michael Hartvigson's turn to check out how the defense lives. I have no idea if the sophomore tight end just decided to sneak into line during the OL/DL one-on-ones as a prank or if there's some actual merit to it - but he took two snaps at DE against Michael Criste, who was lined up at tackle at the time. He went 1-1 on the day, and then quickly went back to work with the tight ends. It was unusual to see purple in a sea of white jerseys, and maybe it's part of a plan to focus on the group athleticism and versatility. Either way, it was fun to see what Hartvigson could do against a big tackle like Criste. He seemed to hold his own. I'll be watching the one-on-ones from here on out to see if the TE's decide to pop in line again.
"Offensively, I think the biggest thing for our guys to understand is that we can have 10 guys do everything right and look really good doing it, and when one guy is off, when one guy is wrong - you get beat and you lose that snap, and all the other 10 guys' work goes to waste. The challenge is to understand that and to hold one another accountable. Lack of execution and lack of effort isn't okay. That's something I know they are working on and addressing, and I think they'll get better for it as the leadership continues to grow." - Steve Sarkisian, after Monday's practice.
Recruits/Guests in the House - Other than former WR Jermaine Kearse, the Dempsey was empty when it came to recruits or guests. It was strictly business for the football team Monday morning.
Redshirts/Injuries - Talia Crichton was out with a knee injury and LB Scott Lawyer was also out with a hurt knee. Sarkisian said they had to do some 'clean-up' work on true frosh RB/LB Ryan McDaniel's knee, which looked to be in some type of air cast or splint.  Sarkisian said that Crichton and Lawyer's injuries aren't considered serious, as well as Drew Schaefer, who was also out with a knee issue. Greg Ducre was back, but he was in red, joining the three amigos that have been in red since the beginning of camp - Cooper Pelluer, James Sample and Travis Feeney. Top Stories