Fall Practice Spotlight - Day Eight

SEATTLE - You know you're getting in the Dawg Days of Fall Camp when scrimmages start showing up. And the Washington Huskies are nearly there. The Huskies went through a double day, practicing in full pads for the evening session. Here's what we saw.

Minor Injuries Mounting: Dwayne Washington, DiAndre Campbell, Connor Cree, and Marcus Peters all sat out with very minor issues, and Steve Sarkisian noted that while they are banged up it's not going to stop them from getting back to action soon. Erik Kohler made his first visit to practice this fall, walking around with a walking boot on his left foot and on crutches. When Kohler is cleared to play again, he'll have to go through the five NCAA-mandated acclimatization days before he can dress in full pads.

Other players, like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Evan Hudson, Brandon Beaver, and JoJo Mathis, ended up with apparent knocks during practice but it didn't stop them from finishing the day. In fact ASJ went inside, only to come back out at the end. Sark said he had jammed a finger, but the junior tight end will be fine. "He still has 10 fingers," Sarkisian joked.

We'll see during Tuesday's scrimmage if anyone is held out as a precaution. Also, freshman linebacker Azeem Victor was back at practice after sitting out with a boot on his left foot and made it through the full practice, nearly picking off Jeff Lindquist during the 7-7 period.

Spring Injured Still Going Strong: Despite the niggles with some other players, those that sat out spring continue to flourish. Sarkisian said Saturday that their work would be somewhat limited Monday, but even so all of them practiced at least some - and others, like Colin Tanigawa, were even lining up and playing with the ones. Deontae Cooper continues to run well and was also talking some reps in the return game. Travis Feeney hasn't missed a beat.

Sankey Already in Mid-Season Form: Bishop Sankey continues to get his work in and is heads above any of the other UW running backs - but that still didn't make him immune to Sarkisian getting on him during the team period for not going 100 percent. Even so, Sankey looks fantastic and just needs to continue to fine-tune his game to get ready for August 31st. John Ross got some reps at RB, something Sarkisian said he would, and his cutting ability has to be seen to be believed.

Price Has His Best Practice To Date: Keith Price, especially during the 7-7 and ending team periods, had some of his best work of fall camp in my opinion. He looked sharp and had a couple of very nice decisions. Earlier in the day when the offense was working in the hurry-up Price continued to excel, but he wasn't immune to some basic mistakes - like overthrowing receivers in the clear. He failed to connect with Josh Perkins on an easy throw, eliciting a loud clap in frustration. But overall, Price is the clear leader of the quarterbacks, followed by Cyler Miles. Freshman Troy Williams has a beautiful throwing motion, and the ball just explodes off his hand. He had a couple of really pretty passes to Damore'ea Stringfellow and David Ajamu that were right on the money and thrown with conviction.

Receivers Are a Mixed Bag: There's no question Keith Price and Kasen Williams have a special understanding. Going into their third year as starters, the two just have an innate sense of what's going on and what each other is going to do. The same can be said for Price and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, as well as Kevin Smith. But the rest of the receiving corps? That's been a much tougher nut to crack so far in fall camp. Eric Kiesau is going to earn his wage this fall getting everyone on the same page, because the chemistry between the quarterbacks and the other receivers just isn't there yet. Price mentioned after practice that he's getting on well with John Ross, and that has shown up at times. But overall, the receivers are having a tough time from top to bottom.

Some Players Making Moves?: It's dangerous to look at how the teams line up at certain times and draw any definitive conclusions, but sometimes it can also be telling. Trevor Walker was paired with Sean Parker during the practice-ending team periods - the first time I can remember the true frosh moving up that far during the 11-11 periods. And Josh Shirley, who started camp at the No. 1 RUSH spot, was back in that same spot Monday night. For the most part, that position has been Cory Littleton's.

Also with Campbell out, Kevin Smith was with the No. 1 receiving corps, joining Kasen Williams and Jaydon Mickens. As I mentioned above, Smith and Keith Price have connected many times so far in camp, and Smith is looking as good as he did pre-injury. If the Huskies can get 30 catches from Smith during the season, that would be a huge bonus for the offense.

With Marcus Peters sitting out, that meant Cleveland Wallace worked most of the day with Greg Ducre, while Jermaine Kelly and Tre Watson got plenty of work with the twos. In fact, Sark mentioned after practice that they need to keep getting Travell Dixon up to speed. Sark felt Dixon - the one-time Alabama defensive back - has been getting beat deep too many times.

And lastly, JoJo Mathis seemed to get some reps with the No. 1 defensive line during the final team period.

Offensive Line Depth Taking Shape?: With Kohler out for the foreseeable future, Dan Cozzetto has been running some similar lines out there. For the ones (from left to right tackle) it's been Ben Riva, Dexter Charles, Mike Criste, Colin Tanigawa, and Micah Hatchie. Jake Eldrenkamp, Michael Kneip, Siosifa Tufunga, James Atoe, and Ross Dolbec lined up at the twos, and Coleman Shelton, Cory Fuavai, Dane Crane, Taylor Hindy, and Andrew Kirkland were the threes.

More Emphasis on Special Teams: Sark was getting into the details of special teams work right from the beginning of Monday's practice, and not just with the returners. He was working with the guys blocking in the return game too. Sark was very active in walking around, checking technique.

Monday was the first day we got a sense of how the kickoff specialists are. Travis Coons and Cameron Van Winkle were the ones used, and both were putting the ball consistently between the 5 and 10-yard line. In Monday's placekicking competition - Coons was 4-4 with a long of 53 yards, while true freshman Van Winkle was 1-4 with a long of 28. His attempt from 46 was blocked (couldn't tell who blocked it), and his attempt from 53 got about halfway into the end zone and was left all the way.

In the punting competition, Korey Durkee unquestionably has the biggest punting leg of the group, but his biggest bugaboo - inconsistent drops - continues to plague him. He had 3-4 high, booming, spiraling kicks that were easily 50-55 yards-plus, but they were mixed in with a couple 35 yard borderline shanks. Also, his two-step run-up is going to get a punt or two blocked this year; it's just too slow.

Zach Grossnickle continues to be the steadier leg and quicker release, but doesn't boom them like Durkee can. I don't get the sense that the battle between these two is going to get settled any time soon.

Plays of the Day: Offensively, it was a catch by Kasen Williams between Will Shamburger and Greg Ducre on a jump ball situation roughly 40 yards downfield. Williams split the two defenders and came up with what appeared to be an impossible catch - but as we've seen with the junior from Skyline he seems to make those catches look fairly routine.

Defensively, there wasn't any big-time, game-changing plays, but Tre Watson - who is quickly becoming the most versatile defensive back for the Huskies, playing corner, safety, and nickel - stripped John Ross of the ball after Ross had caught a pass from Cyler Miles. It was a live ball, but Watson wasn't able to recover the fumble and was visibly upset he wasn't able to finish the play the way he wanted to.

Dawgman.com Top Stories