Fall Practice Spotlight: Day One

SEATTLE - Washington's fall football campaign got off to a strong start Monday afternoon, as the team was put through a two hour-plus workout on both the east field and the newly renovated Husky Stadium. Spirits were high as the team put their work in and those on the sidelines took plenty of time to gaze at the new surroundings.

Everybody is loving the new digs: Steve Sarkisian said after practice that he got to practice a little early today simply because it was in the new Husky Stadium. And walking into the new stadium after nearly four decades of seeing the field surrounded by a track is still a little surreal even after watching the oxblue cams for the last year-plus.

Faces in the Crowd: Jim Lambright, Damon Huard, Hugh Millen, Mark Bruener, and former UW Offensive Coordinator John Pettas were all seen. I spoke with Lambright, who also was a Husky Stadium consultant for Turner Construction, and you can listen to that interview HERE.

It also appeared that Sulaiman Hameed, a cornerback prospect from Alameda High School in Alameda, Calif., was also at practice.

A switch in tackle: Ben Riva started trying things out at left tackle during the spring, and that experiment has continued into the fall, at least for Monday's practice. Sarkisian mentioned how, after they saw what the junior from O'Dea had done in the spring and then looked at his measurables and testing and how it shaped up with other left tackles they determined that Riva has a chance to be an elite left tackle - hence the switch. Sarkisian also noted that with the move they are now also guaranteed two experienced left tackles, as Hatchie could always go back to there if needed.

With the switch, the first-team line now looks like this: Ben Riva, Dexter Charles, Mike Criste, James Atoe, and Micah Hatchie. The number two line that came out for the first 11-11 drill looked like Jake Eldrenkamp, Michael Kneip, Siosifa Tufunga, Shane Brostek, and Ross Dolbec.

Evan Hudson also switched to tackle, but on the other side of the ball. The former tight end is now a 6-foot- 5, 277-pound defensive tackle. Sarkisian said during his press conference earlier in the day that they started experimenting with him on defense during the spring and they love his long arms and ranginess. Hudson played on the defensive line at Bothell High School and was immediately thrown right into the mix with the ones along the defensive line - joining Danny Shelton, Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley.

Not many braces seen: With as many knee injuries as there were in 2012, you would have expected a litany of knee braces to be worn Monday, but that wasn't the case. Other than Jesse Callier, Hauoli Jamora and Lawrence Lagafuaina, there weren't any other players outside of the offensive linemen wearing knee braces. Jamora coming off the edge during 1-1 pass rush drills was exceptionally gratifying to see, especially since the junior from Laie, Hawaii is coming off two knee injuries. He's also changed his number, from 52 to 8.

In fact, all the players that were held out for spring minus Erik Kohler - who wasn't at practice - played and played quite a bit. That should come as good news for fans especially hoping for guys like Jamora, Colin Tanigawa, Lawrence Lagafuaina, and Deontae Cooper to get their chance to shine. And Travis Feeney, who was held out recovering from a shoulder issue, was playing all day with the first team.

Mixed Bag for Quarterbacks and Receivers: First practice is always one where there are ups and downs, and it certainly was that way for the skill players. The quarterbacks had plenty of trouble finding their receivers when they were being covered by air, and when they did find them the receivers often dropped the passes. But there were definitely some glimmers too, especially with Cyler Miles and Marvin Hall. They connected on one touchdown bomb over the top, defeating cornerback Travell Dixon for roughly 70 yards, and Miles connected on another long touchdown with sophomore Kendyl Taylor from about 50 yards out. Hall seemed to be the standout receiver of the group today, making catch after catch from Miles and Keith Price.

Sarkisian Not Suffering Fools: As we've seen in the past, Sarkisian will not hesitate to pull someone out of a drill if they create a dumb penalty or make a heated decision. That happened Monday, as Dwayne Washington was the first player of fall to catch Coach Sark's wrath. After a seemingly innocuous run play, Washington got tangled up with Dixon, who gave the redshirt frosh running back a shove. Instead of going back to the huddle, Washington added a little extra - throwing the football at Dixon's head while he retreated. With an officiating crew on hand, a flag was sure to follow - and it did. When Sarkisian saw the flag and confirmed who it was on, he unceremoniously threw Washington out of the drill. The punishment didn't last too long, as Washington was back in roughly five minutes later - but if I was a betting man Washington will be hearing about his poor decision in meetings later tonight.

Sarkisian Already Upping the Competition Factor: Washington's practices under Sarkisian have always finished with a team period, and Monday's was no different. While it was hard to hear the exact details, he made it clear during the last couple reps that these were for keeps - even though the team won't be allowed to go in full pads via NCAA acclimatization rules until Friday at the earliest. Keith Price found DiAndre Campbell downfield in front of Greg Ducre to end the day - so it's probably fair to say the offense won the final part of practice.

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