First Day in Full Pads for Huskies

SEATTLE - It wasn't 'Tell the Truth Monday' on Montlake. It was 'Competition Monday', according to UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, and since it was the Huskies' first practice in full pads, the cracking began early and often. If it was 'Tell the Truth Monday', the truth would have been that Monday wasn't all that much different than Saturday. Or Thursday. Or even a week ago Tuesday.

"Our kids played physical for our first day in pads, but it wasn't a whole lot different, and that's what we want," Sarkisian said after practice. "The goal is that is doesn't matter what type of gear we have on - we still play fast and we still play physical."

"I think we started that whole mentality of run, hit and being tenacious on defense without pads on," added safety Victor Aiyewa, who got a good lick on Cody Bruns during the practice-ending Team Period. Bruns was able to hold onto the ball.

"They gave us the power and the confidence to run around and hit whoever we want to hit. No one is holding us back, we aren't on a leash - so we are all just flying to the ball and making plays."

"Those first three days got your body physically ready to play," added linebacker Mason Foster. "Putting on the pads made it that much easier since we went really hard the first three days."

The only major difference besides the fact that the hitting was probably a little more noticeable Monday, more players were hitting the ground as a result. "Today is where the real fun starts," senior defensive lineman Daniel Te'o-Nesheim said.

Te'o-Nesheim was one of the players singled out by Sarkisian post-practice, as was quarterback Jake Locker. "I thought he was more accurate with the football," Sarkisian said of Locker. "I thought he was more relaxed in the pocket. There were still a couple of plays where he's still learning what we're doing, but I thought he was more efficient from a quarterback's standpoint. And obviously he used his legs a couple of times to create havoc for the defense."

"I wanted to come out and have a good day after Saturday," the junior signal-caller from Ferndale added after practice. "I wasn't personally happy with it and knew I could do better. For the most part I did a better job today."
Defense takes the day: Sarkisian said that the defense won the Team Period on the last play. The close nature of the periods is something Sarkisian is happy about. "I want there to be give and take," he said. "I want one side to battle back, to have their pride kick in. I want our guys accustomed to playing in tight situations, when there is something on the line, something that matters. They need to go out and execute on those critical snaps.

"I felt like our offense came back and had a nice practice today. I thought the quarterbacks were more efficient with the football. We ran the ball with more consistency, and I thought all-in-all that the offense made more plays. We have to take a look at the film."

Sarkisian also noted the work that the two offensive tackles - Cody Habben and Drew Schaefer - have put in so far this spring, as well as safety Nate Williams.

Running Backs praised for their work: Despite the fact that Chris Polk didn't practice Monday after a hit to his shin Saturday created some swelling, Sarkisian praised the toughness of the running backs group, singling out Brandon Johnson and Curtis Shaw during his post-game media session. "Our kids are physical," he said of the running back group. "They are not afraid. They may not be the biggest in stature, they put their heads in there on pass protection. They put their heads in there when they run the ball. They are not afraid as a group. There's not a guy in there that's timid, and I'm proud of them that way. They all ran the ball well again today."

Careful with the tight ends: Sarkisian noted that with only two tight ends currently on scholarship - Chris Izbicki and Kavario Middleton - the coaches have to be wary of how many reps they get. "It's a long practice, and when they are going that much, we're trying to take a little heat off of Kavario who was a little bit ill on Saturday," he said. "We're trying to get him healthy. But I liked the way he rebounded today, and I continue to like how Izbicki is doing."

Goodwin slowed: Sarkisian said that D'Andre Goodwin appeared slowed by a tight hamstring, suffered during a 7-7 drill, and they weren't going to take any chances. "We've got some young receivers we want to look at, so instead of trying to push him through it, we just held him out," he said of the leading returning receiver.

Persley pushes past: Because Matt Mosley and Vonzell McDowell are slowed, Marquis Persley played opposite Quinton Richardson with the first team corners, backed up by Adam Long and Justin Glenn. Anthony Gobern was brought in with the first team in extra DB situations.

Aiyewa feeling good: After having surgery in December to repair a sports hernia, sophomore safety Victor Aiyewa wasn't sure what to expect in spring, especially since he's had to take it easy during the winter conditioning. "The last couple of days I'm feeling great," the native Texan said. It clearly bothered him last year, where he only was able to play in a handful of games. "I was trying to play through it," he added. "But it was chronic pain, constant pain."

E.J. making progress: Former starting linebacker E.J. Savannah is continuing to impress the new UW coaches. "I was proud of E.J. today," Sarkisian said after practice. "He's still not 100 percent. That ankle is still bothering him, but he came out and battled and competed today, so I was real proud of him."

Faces in the crowd: Recruits Jared Hansen (Curtis) and Ben Riva (O'Dea) were there, as well as 2009 signee Jordan Wallace from Grant High School in Sacramento, as well as his older brother, former UW safety and current Seattle Seahawk C.J. Wallace. Former Huskies Darin Harris, Walt Winter and Robert Lukevich were also seen at practice, as well as Hugh Millen, Mark Stewart, Leif Johnson and Dick Baird. Top Stories