'Mid-term' on tap for Huskies tomorrow

Washington finished their 10th spring practice with the defense having the better day while 300 or so observers basked in the spring sunlight that made its way to Husky Stadium. With new offensive and defensive schemes, head coach Steve Sarkisian said he's happy with the progress the team has made and tomorrow his charges will have another 'mid-term exam' in order to see where they stand...

"I think we're ahead of where I was really anticipating where we were going to be," Sarkisian told the assembled media after the brisk two-hour workout. "I think our kids are playing with the urgency and the intensity and the speed that we want. We're obviously still having mental errors, but I like the urgency that they're playing with and the effort they're playing with.

We've got a lot installed on both sides of the ball and I think they've responded well."

In the team portion of practice, the defense really took it to the offense.

Both quarterbacks were under heavy pressure from the start of the session, but they managed to make a few plays as Jake Locker hit WR Jermaine Kearse and WR Cody Bruns for big gainers.

TE Chris Izbicki also had a nice catch and run that would have resulted in a first down.

"The defense did a good job today," Sarkisian said. "It's a little difficult when you're not in pads with pass-protection because it's hard to get into guys, especially when guys like (E.J. Savannah, (Donald) Butler and (Mason) Foster are blitzing it's hard for the backs to really get in there, but I thought we could have caught the ball better, we were a little spotty in catching the ball, but all-in-all I think we're coming and getting better as a group. There's days when guys sometimes take a step back, but I think as a group we're getting better and I like the way our quarterbacks are progressing, I'm really proud of them.

At USC Sarkisian helped develop the system that head coach Pete Carroll and then-offensive coordinator Norm Chow and their playbook grew as the years went by.

When he arrived at Washington he and the staff meticulously pared down the playbook and he thinks they've found the right balance of being 'player friendly' while remaining dynamic enough to still challenge the opposing teams.

"I think we've made (the playbook) very player friendly," Sarkisian said. "Any time you're in a system, like I was in for seven or eight years there at USC, where things get run together and added on to and it starts stacking itself up, things make sense when you're in the system over time, but when we came here and put this thing together we really tried to be critical. Do things make sense? And we changed a lot of verbiage from the way it was at SC.

"We tried to make it as player friendly as possible and I think we did that. We wouldn't have been able to get in as much as we have if we didn't do that and I think our kids have responded well to it.

"They understand the concepts and the verbiage and the calls, so they make sense and carry over so I think it's very player friendly, but it also allows us to be versatile and do the things we want to do.

"We just tried to tailor it to our strengths. We evaluated this football team and ‘what do we think this team can do well?' and ‘what can our players do individually?' and then let's tailor the things that we're doing to their strengths instead of doing what is easy for us and easy for the coaches and let's doing what's best for our football team that will help us be successful out on the field."

Sarkisian estimated that the staff had installed 70% of the offense and that his plan heading in was to be around 75 to 80% by the end of spring camp.


Scrimmage Saturday: We've heard of 'Tell the truth Monday' and 'Turnover Tuesday' so how about 'Scrimmage Saturday'.

Washington will go through what Sarkisian said will be the team's second mid-term at 1 p.m. as they get ready for the annual spring game to be held a week from tomorrow.

"Tomorrow is a big day," Sarksisian noted. "I'm anxious to watch our guys tackle in space; I'm anxious to see guys with the ball in their hands if they can make plays; I'm anxious to see our pass-protection, if we can hold up so we can make plays down the field."

Sarkisian said he expects to break the scrimmage up into quarters with special teams work in between and that he expects the team to get in about 20 to 25 plays per session.

Folk sharp again: K Erik Folk continued to hit the ball well today, nailing all six of his attempts with his longest coming from 47 yards out, getting whooping and hollering from all the coaches and players.

Jones on the upward climb: Sarkisian noted that DE Darrion Jones continues to impress with his overall production and effort and that he is one of the most improved on the entire team.

"Darrion, in my opinion, has been one of our most improved players this spring," Sarkisian said happily. "From what we saw from his evaluation film from last year to what he's doing for us now, he's become a real force out here.

"He's playing with speed, he's playing with power, he's doing a great job of rushing the passer which we need coming off the edge especially in passing downs and he's holding up really well against the run. I'm excited about where Darrion is. From where he was to where he's at now, he's become a real factor on that defensive line."

Jones has held down the weakside defensive end position with the first unit throughout the spring and it appears he won't be relinquishing it anytime soon.

Injury report: RB Chris Polk returned to action and it appears he will get some time tomorrow; LB Cort Dennison will be limited to no contact for the rest of spring camp as he heals from a broken pinky; WR Vince Taylor had a boot on his right foot and will be day to day with a sprained ankle; WR D'Andre Goodwin is still nursing a bad hamstring and won't participate in tomorrow's scrimmage.

LB Bradly Roussel returned after taking care of his academic issues while OL Ben Ossai, OL Allen Carroll and RB Terrance Dailey are still tending to theirs and were not seen at practice on Friday.

Recruits, recruits, recruits: The trifecta of Lakewood QB Jesse Scroggins, S Dion Bailey and WR Ken Anderson were all in attendance along with two of their coaches.

Desert Vista (Phoenix) RB Anthony Kereluk was also in attendance as were Husky commits Ben Riva and Zach Fogerson from O'Dea.


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