Practice Impressions: Day One
Faces in the Crowd: Bellevue Head Coach Butch Goncharoff and UW Signee Sean Constantine; Future walk-on athlete from Interlake Ryan Turman; Former UW Quarterbacks Hugh Millen, Damon Huard, and Brock Huard.
Making life uncomfortable - That was one of the themes Steve Sarkisian touched on Monday during his 45-minute pre-spring press conference, and it showed up on Tuesday. Practice went until roughly 10:30, and then per NCAA rules a scheduled walk-on tryout took place immediately after. The rain held off Tuesday night, but it was a brisk 45 degrees for most of practice and the coaches never let up in getting after their charges.
Uptempo Practice - The biggest thing coming out of Monday's two-hour workout was just how much the team was able to accomplish. According to Sarkisian, the team ran 130 plays, which is easily 40-50 plays more than they would normally pack into a typical spring practice. Even when big plays were made on either side of the ball the coaches were yelling at their guys to get back in position and focused on the next snap. Sarkisian said that the no-huddle offense would be an early practice staple and it make sense given they can't go full pads until a week from now, but I can't recall one time they huddled up. Obviously it's still hard to know just how much no huddle the team will use once the season starts, but just like Lorenzo Romar unveiling a 'full time' use of the high post offense, there's no doubt in my mind Sarkisian doesn't plan on just dabbling in no huddle if Tuesday's practice was any indication. And on top of all the plays run, there wasn't one fumble due to a poor snap or handoff issue, which is pretty remarkable considering the volume of plays run and the fact that 2012 center Drew Schaefer has graduated.
No huddle helps the defense too - Sarkisian mentioned post-practice that at least eight teams the Huskies will face in 2013 have the potential to go no huddle at any time or all the time, so he wants the defense to be able to benefit from having to go against it every day in practice. If the defense can see 130 plays every practice, they'll be well served by it - even if it simply helps with getting lined up faster and getting on with the next play in short order.
Keith Price's demise exaggerated - Keith Price haters are going to be very disappointed to hear this, but the senior signal caller looked great on Tuesday and he isn't relinquishing the starting quarterback spot without a heck of a battle. It didn't start out that well for Price, who missed a couple passes early during a two-minute drill, but from that point on he was pin-point. Price told the media after practice that he's up to 206 pounds - up over 10 pounds from last year's listed weight - and he looked quick and somewhat explosive given that he's not wearing a brace on his right knee anymore. All the quarterbacks still wear braces on their left knees.
How did the rest of the QB's look? - Cyler Miles was the next in line to get snaps and the 6-4, 223-pound frosh definitely flashes and gives good reason to think the backup spot is in good hands. Miles does have a very long throwing motion right over the top, and watching the three former QB's on the sidelines you could tell that Miles' motion was a topic of discussion. Both Derrick Brown and Jeff Lindquist also got their reps in and looked solid, but didn't jump out as much as Miles did. True freshman Troy Williams only knows one speed right now - 100 percent - and the ball just pops out of his hand. But he was throwing 5-yard curls with the same velocity as a 50-yard streak, and I saw at least one pass from close range bounced right off the receiver's face mask because he never saw it coming. I think based on Tuesday's practice Williams has the strongest arm of all five scholarship quarterbacks.
A very quick look at how the team lined up - With Price at QB, Bishop Sankey was the clear No. 1 at RB, followed by Dwayne Washington and Erich Wilson. Kendyl Taylor saw time at both RB and WR. Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles, Michael Criste, James Atoe and Ben Riva were the first OL out, followed by Jake Eldrenkamp, Cory Fuavai, Siosifa Tufunga, Michael Kneip and Nathan Dean were the next line. Shane Brostek also worked in at guard. Kasen Williams, James Johnson and Jaydon Mickens were the wide-outs and Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the tight end for the first unit out, backed up by DiAndre Campbell, Kevin Smith, Jamaal Jones and Marvin Hall.
Defensively, Josh Shirley, Danny Shelton, Sione Potoae and Andrew Hudson were the first defensive line, backed up by Connor Cree, Drew Schultz, Josh Banks and Jarett Finau. At linebacker with Travis Feeney out it was Princeton Fuimaono repping at his spot along with John Timu and Shaquille Thompson. Backing them up was Cory Littleton, Thomas Tutogi and Jamaal Kearse. The secondary was a little easier to dissect, as Sean Parker and Will Shamburger were the safeties while Marcus Peters and Greg Ducre held down the cornerback spots. The safeties were backed up by Tre Watson and Trevor Walker, and the corners were Cleveland Wallace and Travell Dixon.
Who passed the look test? - I know a lot of people want to try and take initial stock of how the team has come out of winter conditioning, and I'd say overall they look fit and ready to go. A couple of players - like Cory Littleton, Ben Riva, Cleveland Wallace and Dwayne Washington - were guys that immediately stood out in terms of passing the 'look' test compared to where they were at the end of last year. It was also refreshing to note that some of the veterans with injury history, namely Kevin Smith and Taz Stevenson, joined Price in practicing Tuesday night brace-free. In fact, both Smith and Stevenson moved very well - much better than I expected for a first day where there were 130 plays run. As long as the team is able to keep up the pace they'll be extremely fit on both sides of the ball - one of the anticipated side effects from going no huddle.
Play of the Day - This was a pretty easy one. The defense only forced a couple turnovers on the night, but the first one was pretty spectacular. Cyler Miles threw a bomb down the right sideline intended for DiAndre Campbell, but Marcus Peters went high up to tip the ball and he was able to tip it to himself - a very athletic play. When it was clear he had snagged his own tip, the defense on the sidelines went crazy. It was a really nice play by the sophomore cornerback, one of many expected from him this spring.
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