Thursday’s practice was a little different only for the media, because it was the last full practice they will be able to attend. Starting Sunday, the Huskies are in game week mode, compared to fall camp mode. That means, because the Boise State opener September 4th is on a Friday, game week actually starts a day early. So anything that was supposed to happen on Monday - like Chris Petersen’s weekend press conference - will happen Sunday. Then everything moves up a day.
The Huskies will use this next work week, starting Sunday, to ‘mock up’ what a typical game week would be like. Then, starting a week from Sunday, the actual game week commences.
Interceptions by Jojo Mathis, Sidney Jones, Budda Baker put a bit of a damper on proceedings as far as the quarterback battle is concerned.
A lot of the focus has been put squarely on the offensive line since the news that Dexter Charles would have to retire, and even the rest of the offense is throwing their positive vibes in the big uglies’ direction. They know how vital it is that the line gel and come together in time to do damage in Boise.
Coleman Shelton continues to get more and more reps at left tackle, with Jake Eldrenkamp inside. That would seem to take the stuffing out of the right tackle battle, but Kaleb McGary did get some reps with the ones and is trying to push Matt James. Ideally, it would be great for McGary to get some quality mop-up time in a couple of the pre-season games to plant some confidence in his brain before going into Pac-12 play, so we’ll see what happens there. Offensive Line Coach Chris Strausser has talks about getting at least eight guys ready to play, and right now if I had to guess who plays at Boise, it would be Shelton, Eldrenkamp, Sifa Tufunga, Shane Brostek, and James, with Jesse Sosebee, McGary, and possibly Trey Adams rounding out the roster.
It would obviously be a lot to put on the true frosh to play tackle in his first collegiate game, but Chris Petersen acknowledged that - even though he’s never played a true freshman offensive lineman before, it’s a new day and they are recruiting a new type of player. Best player plays, and right now Adams could be one of the top-four tackles available to Strausser and company.
Whenever you’re playing against yourself and the offense has a poor day - a lot of times it means the defense was making plays. And that seemed to be the case Thursday.
It was a pads and short practice Thursday on the heels of what was characterized to be a pretty ‘live’ Wednesday scrimmage. But that doesn’t mean players weren’t flying around and trying to put a lick on people. Sophomore middle linebacker Azeem Victor held running back Coleman Shelton for a safety during a period where the offense was trying to get the ball off their own goal line. It sounds like Victor was outstanding Wednesday and really surprised some people.
Defensively, the secondary was missing a couple of bodies - namely safeties Jojo McIntosh and Ezekiel Turner. When asked about any possible injuries, Head Coach Chris Petersen said post-practice the they will be fine, so expect to see both of them come back soon.
Brian Clay picked up where he left off spring, jumping right back into the mix at the number one safety spot opposite Budda Baker. At the corners, Sidney Jones and Darren Gardenhire appear to be set at the ones, but it’ll be interesting to see who starts next to Kevin King when he comes in either as a nickel or as a second corner. The true freshmen - Austin Joyner and Jordan Miller - are giving Brandon Lewis a real battle out there, and don’t be surprised to see one of the true frosh play quite a bit this fall. Joyner seems to be the more natural at the position in terms of athleticism, but Miller has frankly had a great camp. Haven’t really seen him get caught out too many times at all.
NOTES: Auburn-Mountainview’s Gavin Robertson, a 6-foot-2 defensive back prospect who is currently verbally committed to Arizona, was at practice Thursday.