Practice Spotlight - Day Two

SEATTLE - With the temperature down at least 10-15 degrees from a sweltering Monday, the second day of Washington's fall camp definitely had the feel of a normal practice day. But what Steve Sarkisian doesn't want to see become habit is the number of footballs that hit the east field turf on Tuesday.

The List:
No News on Injuries Is Great News - When asked about the status of injured OL Erik Kohler, Sarkisian said that they did an MRI on the junior from Oaks Christian, but they haven't seen the results yet. Even if there is no significant damage to his right knee and kneecap - which painfully popped out Monday during one-on-one drills - Sarkisian said what's already done will hold Kohler out for probably two weeks, but he's not expecting anything more than that.

The other player that suffered on Monday - Sean Parker - practiced all day Tuesday, the effects of dehydration seemingly completely gone.

Play of the Day - Keith Price handed the ball off to Cody Bruns on an end-around and hit a streaking Kasen Williams in stride for six. The play elicited such a reaction from the offense that Kevin Smith ran as fast as he could, as well as James Johnson, Jesse Callier and some of the other players to meet the sophomore receiver in the end zone. They then introduced a new touchdown dane - probably one you won't see in real play but maybe on the sidelines. Kasen took turns slapping hands with each teammate three times then arcing their backs to the sky as they all yelled out 'WHOOOOO!!!!'. It was cleared it had been rehearsed.

Player of the Day - It had to be Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The 6-foot-6, 266-pound sophomore tight end has not only become a premier playmaker out on the perimeter but he's also become the quarterback's best friend and ultimate safety valve. It didn't matter if it was Keith Price or Derrick Brown or Jeff Lindquist or Cyler Miles - they all looked for big number 88 early and often. And he made the second best play of the day - a sprawling catch of a Derrick Brown deep pass where he was barely able to keep a foot in-bounds - but he did it. It was vintage ASJ.

Group of the Day - Definitely the defensive line. They looked quick and aggressive and healthy as a whole - the first time in a long time you could say that. Hauoli Jamora and Talia Crichton, both players with a past that includes knee injuries, looked tenacious and hungry. They were getting after the quarterbacks today. That's never been a problem for Josh Shirley, but even younger, bigger cats like Jarett Finau were busting upfield impressively.

The youngest players - especially true frosh Pio Vatuvei - hauled their butts in every direction, hounding ball-carriers 10-15, even 20 yards downfield. When looking at high school film of Vatuvei, the player UW was able to snatch away from USC right before Signing Day, I didn't see the pursuit that he showed in spades today. He tracked down fellow frosh Erich Wilson in the open field 15 yards downfield and earned rightful kudos for the effort.

Fumbleitis - Apparently it's catching (no pun intended) with the young receivers. As fast and as good as players like Jaydon Mickens and Kendyl Taylor looked Monday, they couldn't hold onto the ball very well on Day Two. On one play, Mickens had safety James Sample completely frozen on a quick change of direction, but then was promptly stripped of the ball. It was hard to tell whether Shaq Thompson forced the fumble, but he definitely recovered it. And at the end of practice the defense forced another Mickens fumble, recovered by Brandon Beaver.

As with any time you're playing against your teammates, it's a mixed bag. Great job on the defense stripping the ball and pouncing on it to give it back to the offense. Bad side of that is the ball hit the deck way too many times for Sark's liking. Like anything else early in camp for young players, it's something they'll have to adjust for and work through. It's part of the maturation process.

Speaking of Turnovers - A couple of the freshman cornerbacks each picked off passes Tuesday - Beaver and Cleveland Wallace. Plays like that will certainly help their confidence as they labor through camp.

Next Play - It was a constant theme on defense Tuesday - Next Play. I heard it a bunch from Tosh Lupoi during 9-7 action. Next Play. When asked about it, Sarkisian noted that it's not just a motto the defense is taking to heart - it's the whole team. The way he described it, it's something the coaches talked to the players about Monday night and implemented Tuesday.

"It's a team motto, really, it's not just about the defense," Sarkisian said. "It's something we've been talking about as a team, we stressed it last night as a focus for today so that we understand from a mental aspect that the last play is over and we gotta focus on the task at hand which is the next play. I thought the guys did a nice job, sometimes it can work both ways, sometimes you get beat, you can have a woah is me mentality and sometimes you make a big play and you get the yay is me mentality and you're not nearly as focused as you need to be on the next play so it's been a big focus."

So what does it mean right now? It just means the team is working toward having that perfect balance of not getting too high or low in any given situation - good or bad. It's about handling their business the right way, and it's also all about discipline.

The mechanics of the OL/DL One-on-One drill - This may be minutiae, but it was interesting to me. Historically teams will just have a tackling dummy seven yards behind the line of scrimmage - the perfect target for oncoming defensive linemen. Sometimes teams would have trainers hold them upright and then let go at the last minute to avoid getting sacked themselves.

This fall the Huskies have a new contraption that allows for a 'hanging' dummy. The dummy is suspended about two feet or so above the ground with a quick release mechanism - so that when a defensive linemen wants to get aggressive and tear the dummy off its perch, it doesn't take a lot of strain to do so.

What's also interesting is how this all goes down. First the lineman takes the dummy down and races back to the line of scrimmage. While that is happening two trainers with a duplicate dummy quicky scamper in place to 'hang' the next dummy while another trainer pulls the other one out of the way and gets it ready to be recycled.

Radio Recap with Gas and Elise - After practice I went over to talk Day Two of camp with the Gas Man and Elise Woodward of Sports Radio KJR, who are covering practice this week. For anyone interested in hearing the podcast, here's the link.

Talking with Gas and Elise Tuesday about Day Two of UW Fall Camp



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