Practice Spotlight - Day One

SEATTLE - Jeff Lindquist said it best: they had no idea what to expect. The Washington Huskies started spring football Tuesday, and it was all in the unknown. All the players had been recruited by Steve Sarkisian, but they were playing for Chris Petersen now, so how would they embrace the change? And what exactly would that change be?

First Impressions: Man, what a difference a few months makes. I can remember the last Wednesday practice before the Apple Cup - and truthfully not that much changed during the Fight Hunger Bowl practices even with Sarkisian gone - and so much has already gone by the wayside in terms of how practices go at the University of Washington.

First thing first; the music has been toned down. A lot. Outside of individual periods and warmups, the music is gone. The feeling at practice inside the Dempsey Indoor Facility was at times part church, part classroom. You could hear the coaches and the instruction they were giving the players.

The distinctive two air-horn blasts to signal an end to a period, something that had been used since the Jim Lambright days? Gone. Instead it was a shot clock buzzer that went off, as players would move to their next assigned areas.

The air horn was only used twice - on both of Jeff Lindquist's picks. One was a pick-six to Shaq Thompson and the other to new walk-on linebacker Devon Phillips.

Speaking of Turnovers: Another interesting feature of Petersen's practice schedule was the use of wind sprints to signal the end of the day. When asked about it after practice, he said it wasn't something they always do.

"That's their choice," he said. "We always have competition with turnovers and if the offense gives up a certain amount they are going to run and if the defense doesn't get a certain amount they are going to run. They can get the turnovers and not run or they can not turn it over and not run. That's the only type of conditioning we do at the end - it has to do with turnovers."

When asked the last time he did wind sprints to close out a practice, Lindquist joked that he was a senior in high school.

The Replacements: Because there were a fair number of players out with injuries and also dealing with suspensions and academic issues (we will be touching on all this in a second), there were a number of players pressed into starting spots.

With Micah Hatchie out, Jake Eldrenkamp got the first-team reps at left tackle Tuesday, backed up by Andrew Kirkland. With Dexter Charles out at left guard, that meant Colin Tanigawa moved back over to that spot and James Atoe took Tanigawa's right guard position. Backing them up was Michael Kneip and Shane Brostek.

John Timu was not at practice, so that meant Azeem Victor racked up most of the first team reps at MIK, backed up by Sean Constantine.

With Cory Littleton out, that gave Marcus Farria and Psalm Wooching time to show themselves out along the defensive line.

Timu in Trouble: Petersen would not elaborate on the senior captain's absence, other than that he had been suspended and would be coming back for the second half of spring. Tuesday afternoon it was reported by both the Seattle Times and Tacoma News Tribune that Timu was charged in December with two misdemeanor counts of vehicle prowling. The report claims he stole parking passes so he could sell them to teammates.

This is the latest hit for the Huskies in which a few of them have had recent run-ins with the law. Quarterback Cyler Miles and receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow are currently suspended indefinitely after a post-Super Bowl altercation near campus.

Petersen also said that senior RB Jesse Callier was not at practice taking care of some academic business, but did not elaborate or give a timetable for Callier's return.

Two is Enough: With Miles out, it meant UW only had two quarterbacks available to start spring football - Lindquist and redshirt frosh Troy Williams.

"I thought both of them had some really bright spots; Jeff had a couple of chances to make some throws down the field," new QB Coach and Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith said after practice. "Definitely some things to clean up in terms of the overall grasp, which was expected - some new wrinkles in the offense. Troy showed some flashes of his athleticism. He did a good job with the ball, didn't turn it over today. Both of them had some things that were bright and things to clean up."

Competition For Fun: It sounds like new strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha (pronounced Saw-haw) has some tricks up his sleeve to make things interesting at practice. During one of the periods in the middle of practice, all the players got into a circle, divided by offense and defense. Socha then brought into the middle what can only be described as a big, heavy, metal frisbee with handles on each end. The goal? One offensive player and one defensive player would grab hold, and the first one to lose their grip would be the loser.

Much like the Oklahoma Drill and other drills used to measure competitive fire, the players got into this drill really fast. It was hard to tell from the media's vantage point, but the offensive player picked to do the first rep won, but the defense's next two picks - Travell Dixon and Elijah Qualls - won their rounds, so the defense won 2-1 and the offense had to run wind sprints.

"We'll always have some sort of competition - it doesn't matter if we're playing checkers, tiddlywinks, tug of war - we want guys to compete at all times, have a little fun with it," Petersen said of the ‘Tug of War' drill. "We'll always do something like that."

Quotable: There are always some great quotes during the first spring practice of the year, and this day was no exception.

RB Dwayne Washington, on the differences between former UW RB coach Johnny Nansen and new RB Coach Keith Bhonapha - "Coach KB, I'd say he probably knows what he's doing more than coach Nansen. Coach Nansen wasn't really a…I'd say he wasn't a good running backs coach because he coached special teams. With coach KB, it's all technique, it's all running back drills and stuff like that."

WR DiAndre Campbell, on what brought him back after it was expected that he would graduate in the spring and move on - "Just a fresh opportunity, a new start…a great coaching staff, people that believe in discipline and details and have the championship formula. That's what I'm all about. I also believe that the best players play and I also believe in growing young men and developing a team atmosphere and a family atmosphere. I jumped at the opportunity."

Center Mike Criste, on what's way different about the new staff - "Just the style. It's a lot more…just the general feel I got was that they are more focused on the tiny, tiny, tiny details instead of the big picture - and just the focus on us individually, and not just the whole big scheme."

WR John Ross, on playing defense - "They said they want me to go both ways if possible. Right now we're on kind of a shortage of DB's, and they say I have the potential to do it. I might be one of the guys who might be good both ways, so if they want to use me then they'll grab me and we'll just go with that."

WR Jaydon Mickens, on running an offense similar to last year's - "It's similar. We're still doing up-tempo. Today was the first day, so we still had our same concepts in…maybe we're calling them a little different. Coach Petersen sprinkled in some Boise State and coach Pease a little bit of Florida, so we've got varieties of every team in the country right now."

QB Jeff Lindquist, on how different was today compared to what he's used to - "It's totally different. I remember talking to a lot of my buddies a couple of weeks ago about it and we had no idea what this practice was going to be like - how we were going to stretch, what routes we were going to do, how we were going to operate - so it's kind of nice to have the first one out of the way and we know what to look forward to. I think guys transitioned into it pretty well."


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