Sark shakes things up

SEATTLE - After a long Saturday scrimmage in front of roughly 1800 fans with decent weather, the Washington Huskies came back out to Husky Stadium Monday to a much different scene. Rain greeted them and the fifty or so hardcore fans waiting to see the team go through their scheduled two-hour workout. After the first few minutes, it was clear things weren't going according to the script.

During the team's first period, where they install the offensive and defensive plans they've just talked about before practice, they appeared to be going through the motions. That was until first-year Head Coach Steve Sarkisian lit into them with some choice phrases that clearly sent the message; it's time to get going.

"I wanted to wake them up today," Sarkisian said after practice. "They had the big scrimmage Saturday. It was raining when we came out and they were maybe feeling a little sorry for themselves. We need to be a physically tough football team and a mentally tough football team. And these elements of today's practice...we don't just need to be comfortable in, we need to use to our advantage. We will, and they understood that. They responded well."

'If you play for the Huskies, you gotta be used to the rain and wet weather," added quarterback Ronnie Fouch, who arguably had his best practice of the spring. "But anytime you walk out to practice and it's windy and raining, it's tough to get motivated for a practice. But coach Sark wanted us from the get-go to be energized and fight through the elements and play hard."

The redshirt sophomore threw a great strike to Jermaine Kearse to end his part of the 7-7 period, followed by Jake Locker hitting Tony Chidiac for a long-gainer down the middle and Devin Aguilar for a touchdown to end the period.

"I just felt comfortable out there today," Fouch said of his Monday effort. "It's probably the best day I've had just being comfortable back there and not swimming with the offense in my head while I drop back."

"I thought Ronnie played well, I thought Jake played well," added Sarkisian. "We need to shore some things up front and they'll feel even more confident in the pocket."

But it was the team period that really got the juices flowing. The offense had a couple of situations where they were backed up at their own one-yard line, and twice running back Willie Griffin was stuffed behind the line for safeties - once by Cameron Elisara and the second time by Daniel Te'o-Nesheim.

The offense got their licks in too, even when they were backed up. Frosh RB Demitrius Bronson made the left corner, hauled down the sideline and cut back in the middle and probably gained at least 60 yards before getting caught by corner Marquis Persley.

"I think he's starting to surprise himself a little bit," Sarkisian said of Bronson. "He keeps playing hard. He's learning a lot of the game, but he knows how to run the football, that's for sure. I'm very impressed with his mental toughness."

The team period also had a little wrinkle in it; it was fully live on Monday, meaning there was a running clock, penalties, downs, the whole thing. At one point Sarkisian had to make sure the referee understood that a procedure call at the five meant half the distance instead of at the goal-line.

Kavario Middleton worked with the ones a bunch today and caught the first two passes of the period from Jake Locker. The first teams split the first two series, and then Victor Aiyewa knocked down a pass intended for Devin Aguilar and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim took Willie Griffin down in the end zone for a safety.

Win, defense.

With the twos out there, Ronnie Fouch looked sharp, connecting with TE Ben Hayes and Anthony Boyles for first downs. Then they went from the defense's 25-yard line with the twos and the defense held fast and forced a 27-yard kick that Erik Folk pushed wide right.

"I just pushed it. I didn't swing through," Folk said.

When the ones came in, they also held the offense to a field goal try. Sark iced the kicker, Cory Rutkowski, with a time out, and the whole defense was all over Rutkowski, yelling at him. He stepped up to a 25-yarder and calmly booted it through, as the offense mobbed him in celebration.

"I expected the ice, but the whole team yelling at me? That was kind of new," Rutkowski said, adding that the team was yelling different variations of 'you're going to miss it' at him. "It was fun. It was cool. I enjoyed it. I just tried to make the most out of the opportunity, and hopefully I'll get more in the future."

"The team period was one of the best ones we've had this spring," Sarkisian said. "It was very spirited. They were into it. They were competing. I thought it went great."
Injury report: Skyler Fancher went off during the team period with what looked to be an ankle/foot injury. Sarkisian said afterward he's hopeful it's OK, but Fancher was going in for x-rays. D'Andre Goodwin's hamstring is acting up again, and Sark said they are probably going to shut him down until Friday. Cody Habben got his right shoulder taped up and went back into the team period.

Willie Griffin, David Freeman, Demitirus Bronson and Curtis Shaw appeared to be the healthy running backs, and Brandon Johnson ran a little too, though he is in red. Chris Polk was out there not in red, but he wasn't in full pads either - just shells and shorts. Brandon Yakaboski was doing some running around the field.

Their evaluation is going to be a lot more thorough than maybe the guys that aren't getting the reps," Sarkisian said of the three healthy RB's - Griffin, Bronson and David Freeman, although Sark added that Freeman is still struggling a little bit from an ankle injury.

On defense, the cornerbacks are seeing red - literally. Anthony Gobern, Matt Mosley and Vonzell McDowell are all wearing red today, as is linebacker Josh Gage. Because of that, redshirt freshman CB Justin Glenn made a push up with the ones and did some good things, according to Sarkisian. He forced a fumble in Saturday's scrimmage.

"Coach (Demetrice) Martin and coach (Jeff) Mills are just trying to get guys opportunities to show what they are about when they are going with the ones," Sarkisian said. "Quinton Richardson went on the left side today and I thought he did some nice things today, especially in the run game."

Not at practice: Sark confirmed that Allen Carroll, Bradly Roussel and Terrance Dailey weren't at practice because they need to shore up some academic work.

Film study: This is what Sark had to say about what the film showed him from Saturday's scrimmage. "They tried hard. The effort was good, but we had missed assignments. And missed assignments mean lack of attention to detail. You get into a setting in the scrimmage where it's not scripted out and guys have to react to a call in the huddle. We got a little idea of guys that can respond, and we got a little idea of guys that maybe, when they make a mistake, how they respond the next couple of plays. We had a few too many guys that, when they made a mistake, they harbored it and carried it for the next couple of downs. We need to be a team that's able to erase that mistake from our memory and go on and play the next snap."

Receivers hard at work: Along with missed assignments, Sarkisian is emphasizing the quick passing game with the QB's, WR's and TE's, trying to make sure all the players are on the same page. "It's about rhythm, timing, snap-off points with motion and understanding the timing of the quarterback when the ball is coming out and the accuracy of the throws," Sarkisian said of what they are focusing on with the passing part of their offense. "We have a lot of things installed; now we have to fine-tune it and get the details of routes and throwing the ball down so our completion percentage goes up."

"We're getting in a rhythm now," Fouch added, also noting that Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar have really stepped up of late, especially in light of D'Andre Goodwin nursing a hamstring. "It's coming to us a lot easier now that we've repped it and repped it over and over."

Today's depth chart:
Based on Monday's work in the team period, here's how the depth chart appears to be panning out, based on health and availability:
QB - Jake Locker, Ronnie Fouch
RB - Demitrius Bronson/Willie Griffin/David Freeman
FB - Paul Homer, Austin Sylvester
LT - Cody Habben, Skyler Fancher
LG - Ben Ossai, Greg Christine
C - Ryan Tolar, Mykenna Ikehara
RG - Senio Kelemete, Morgan Rosborough
RT - Drew Schaefer, Nick Scott
TE - Kavario Middleton/Chris Izbicki
WR - Jermaine Kearse, Anthony Boyles
WR - Devin Aguilar, Cody Bruns/Chris Polk

DE - Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Everrette Thompson
DT - Cameron Elisara, Tyrone Duncan
DT - Alameda Ta'amu, De'Shon Matthews
DE - Darrion Jones, Kalani Aldrich
SAM - Mason Foster, Matt Houston
MIK - Donald Butler, Trenton Tuiasosopo
WIL - E.J. Savannah, Cort Dennison
S - Nate Williams, Victor Aiyewa
S - Johri Fogerson, Greg Walker
CB - Quinton Richardson, Marquis Persley
CB - Justin Glenn, Adam Long Top Stories