Thursday Practice Spotlight

SEATTLE - Scrimmaging is always a major highlight of camp, and Thursday night saw the Washington Huskies go live for the first extended period since they kicked off spring football March 4th. The Dawgs went roughly 50 plays, split between Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams at quarterback. The results, as you would expect, were mixed - depending on which side of the ball you were on.

Shaquille Thompson continued his experiment at running back, and if his first live carry was any indication, the 6-foot-2, 231-pound linebacker has a bright future on offense. The RB's were limited in numbers anyway, as both Dwayne Washington and Jesse Callier were out, so Thompson took the rock and blasted off the right side for 15 yards.

This was after, I should say, he touch-sacked Lindquist on the first drive of the live period from his normal spot at linebacker.

Right after Thompson went for 15, Williams was picked off three plays later by linebacker Travis Feeney, who out-ran the rest of the offense for a 65-yard score. Not to be outdone by his own defensive teammate, Thompson took the next handoff from Lindquist and bolted 73 yards for a score.

We just didn't know it was Thompson at the time. His first series he wore his customary white 7 jersey, but with Washington out Thompson took the purple number 12 jersey, put it on, and did his best Dwayne Washington imitation anyway.

Williams threw the only touchdown of the live period, a beautiful spiral to Derrick Brown over Marcus Peters for a 14-yard touchdown. That was after Williams hooked up with Jaydon Mickens for 14 on a 4th and short call. The offense made it tougher than they had to though, as Williams and Brown had connected from five yards out two plays earlier, but the play was brought back due to a penalty. In fact there were a few yellow hankies on the field during the scrimmage - I'm sure too many for Chris Petersen's liking.

Very unofficially, Lindquist was 5-8 for 43 yards, while Williams was 9-11 for 42 yards, one touchdown and one interception. I also had Thompson running the ball three times for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Lavon Coleman carried it seven times for 35 yards and Deontae Cooper four carries for 25 yards.

Defensively, I also had touch-sacks by Thompson, Hauoli Kikaha, and John Timu - and tackles for loss by Travis Feeney and Azeem Victor, who had a couple.

Taylor Doing His Part - Receivers Coach Brent Pease mentioned Kendyl Taylor as a player who impressed him Thursday with his play. I had him unofficially with three catches for 29 yards on the night. With John Ross not at practice and Kasen Williams and Damore'ea Stringfellow still out due to injury and suspension, respectively - Taylor is racking up opportunities to show what he can do.

"I think he's got good quickness, continues to work on his hands. I think he's smart and understands coverages. I think he's got some football intelligence."

The 5-foot-10, 203-pound Taylor started off his UW career in a flash, playing in all 13 games as a true freshman two years ago. He was moved to running back the week of the Stanford upset, and he did a little bit of everything for Steve Sarkisian that year, running for 200 yards and catching 14 passes for 110 yards. He scored his first career touchdown at Colorado.

But after this past fall camp, Sarkisian was finding it difficult to get Taylor the ball. He instead decided to redshirt Taylor instead of using up a year of eligibility on a handful of carries or touches. It was something that Taylor didn't take well to, calling the decision ‘mind-blowing'.

"All of us are superstars or big-time guys that have always been the guy on their team," he said. "To come here and be told that you're going to sit a whole year? Being a competitor, that's just mind-blowing. It was a humbling experience and I definitely took a lot from it, so I'm looking forward to this year."

With Sarkisian unsure of Taylor's future on offense, he started to look at the possibility of utilizing the athlete on the other side of the ball. Kendyl's father Keith played defense at Illinois before a lengthy NFL career. Could Kendyl make the switch?

"They thought we were going to be looking thin at safety for this year with the old coaches - so they wanted to test me out because my Dad played safety and I'm very versatile," he said. "So they wanted to see if I could play safety and help out. It helped me a lot from just seeing the defensive side of the ball how much room you have to give receivers and just the area and space and how hard it actually is to cover somebody. Now back on offense I know there's tough catches that they might not be able to make the play on certain balls. It helps me out a lot."

With news of Patrick Enewally's dismissal Thursday and the safety depth taking hits to its health with Kevin King and Brandon Beaver wearing yellow, Taylor isn't worried about playing musical positions. He's back where he needs to be, and there's definitely a need.

"I feel comfortable here," he said when asked about a possible switch back to defense again. "I don't think…we're thin at receiver, we're thin at running back right now. I'm just trying to focus on one position right now and make it my best."
Brent Pease, on first impressions from the first major chunk of live scrimmaging Thursday night - "Just building depth…first impressions? There's a lot to work at, especially in the run game, understand how to beat coverage. There's some good things; guys made some plays and guys had to play tough because they had to get through because there wasn't a lot of depth for our guys - we were really rotating the whole time. But letting them play on their own and seeing how fast they could play, they did some good things."

Jaydon Mickens, on seeing what Shaq Thompson is doing at RB and if it's surprised him at all since Shaq hasn't run with the ball since high school - "It doesn't surprise me but it kind of kid because of the moves…I was like, ‘Okay I'll take that move. I like that move right there, Shaq T.' It wasn't surprising. He knows what he has to do with the ball."

Colin Tanigawa, on one thing that new OL Coach Chris Strausser has taught that you didn't know before that's really helped - "I think just focusing on combination techniques on run block schemes, working together to the linebacker. Focusing on that more, I think it's something new to us and something we've actually gotten better at. One thing he preaches a lot is keeping your butt down so you have a good base and not tipping over. That's a pretty huge thing, because if your butt up in the air you're just going to get thrown, so that's a huge thing."

Kendyl Taylor, on Thursday night's practice being a little cool - "Yeah, I like it a lot. I left Arizona because of the heat, so whenever I get weather like this I just smile."
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