Huskies Offensive Coordinator Jonathan Smith said that the offense was still in ‘install’ mode, meaning they were putting more and more on the quarterbacks - and the sloppiness showed up by way of five interceptions - three thrown by freshman quarterback Jake Browning.
The first one was thrown on a deep pass intended for Dante Pettis, but freshman cornerback Austin Joyner went high to snag the throw. It was a very athletic play for Joyner, who made those plays look routine when he prepped at Marysville-Pilchuck.
Browning came right back with another deep pass, this one heading for junior wideout Nik Little, but Sidney Jones saw it coming the whole way and deftly snagged the pass. Browning’s last pick of the day was also a deep pass. Senior safety Brian Clay camped under it and was easily able to intercept the throw, originally intended for Marvin Hall.
The last throw of the day, made by redshirt frosh K.J. Carta-Samuels was also the last pick of the day, courtesy of sophomore safety Budda Baker. On the same play it appeared as if Jake Eldrenkamp rolled his ankle - confirmed by Offensive Line Coach Chris Strausser after practice - but there no more information on the severity of the injury. Eldrenkamp was able to walk off under his own power with just a slight limp.
The fifth interception was thrown by juco transfer Tony Rodriguez, who threw and ill-advised pass in the direction of Little, who never looked back. Darren Gardenhire saw the play coming and was in the right place at the right time to easily pick it off.
The offensive struggles could also have been attributed to the middle of camp, where all teams ‘hit the wall’ at some point. Head Coach Chris Petersen admitted after practice that Tuesday’s off day comes as a good time, but if he had to do it all over again he probably wouldn’t have put it directly on the schedule, as it had a mental effect that translated into the team not coming with a ton of energy and enthusiasm to start the day.
Voices started to gather steam on defense once they tallied up the turnovers. They like to chant The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ refrain as a sign of energy and enthusiasm, but that didn’t come out until near the end of practice.
The defensive backs weren’t the only ones to feed off the offense’s poor day. During the final team periods, the defensive line was able to take advantage of Charles’ absence - and subsequent moving around of bodies to make up for said absence. Travis Feeney, Psalm Wooching, Vita Vea, and Jarett Finau all had touch sacks, and the defense was able to shut the offense down from scoring on all five offensive drives to end the day.
The offense did have a couple of bright spots. When the action moved back into Husky Stadium, it was specifically to work on game mechanics and shutting a game down with a four-minute drive to kill any attempts at a comeback. Junior quarterback Jeff Lindquist found Jaydon Mickens over the outstretched arms of Baker for a 17-yard completion to basically kill the mock game away. They even worked on making sure they had their Victory formation on point.
The second big play was during the team period where Carta-Samuels was able to step up in the pocket and deliver a strike to tight end Joshua Perkins, who then stormed upfield for 37 yards. The offensive sidelines roared their approval of that play. But Feeney came up with a touch sack on the very next play, which put the offense in a hole they couldn’t recover from.
Dexter Charles Retirement and What it Means - With Charles now retired from Washington Football (Strausser did say Dexter would still have a place within the team once he’s physically back on track), sophomore Coleman Shelton took a lot of reps at left tackle, with another left tackle - Jake Eldrenkamp - moved inside to take Charles’ old left guard spot. Eldrenkamp can play either left tackle or left guard, which also means that Dane Crane may not immediately move up at left guard. He’s the lineman that had been playing behind Charles in the beginning of fall camp. Crane has also been taking some reps at center, the position he was recruited for three years ago.
The right side of the line looks a little more set - which Shane Brostek and Jesse Sosebee at right guard and Matt James and Kaleb McGary at right tackle.
Special Teams Update - The punt return unit unveiled an interesting drill Monday. It was three-on-three blocking, with the returner trying to weave through a confined space upfield. The drill was designed to help make sure the return blockers do a good job without committing block in the back penalties. Budda Baker and Chico McClatcher looked the most adept in tight quarters, with Budda employing a very Bishop Sankey-esque jump cut to burst upfield and beat the defenders downfield. McClatcher was more about a couple quick cuts and then sprinting past engaged defenders.
Scouts in the House - Scouts from Philadelphia, Atlanta, Arizona, Denver, and Cincinnati were at Husky Stadium on Monday.
Also of note - Kevin King, Ezekiel Turner, Jomon Dotson, and Jojo McIntosh were unavailable to practice on Monday.
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