Getting things cleaned up

SEATTLE - Friday was earmarked as a clean-up day by Steve Sarkisian, but as it turned out he wasn't the only one at Washington looking to clean up some loose ends. Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward spoke about WSU's decision to abruptly end talks that could have netted UW and WSU roughly $10 million apiece by playing the Apple Cup at Qwest Field for six years, starting in 2010.

In contract to his counterpart in the Palouse, Jim Sterk, who quickly came to the decision Friday that Washington State would not be able to come to an agreement on seating and ticket allocation for future Apple Cups held at Qwest, Woodward still appeared open to the idea of negotiation, even if it ultimately ended up back to where it is right now - nowhere.

"There was no hurry," the UW AD said. "Nothing was agreed to. I was willing to talk about all the possibilities. First and Goal was just great. The Seahawks were just awesome and came up with a very interesting proposal. I'll always listen to good proposals that will help our student-athletes and help the University of Washington Athletic program.

"But that's as far as it went."

When news broke last week about the notion of moving the Apple Cup to Qwest, fan reaction on both sides of the mountains was swift and nearly unamimous; they wanted nothing to do with changes to the Apple Cup, even with the potential financial windfall.

"I wasn't overwhelmed by the fan response," Woodward said. "I knew it was going to be a legitimate issue when you're talking about tradition. When you talk about that, you play that into consideration and it's something you don't take lightly. But financial considerations and creating new traditions are always interesting to me, so that's why I had great interest in what First and Goal and the Seahawks had to offer."
On the football front, Sarkisian said Friday that there would be no punting or kickoffs for Saturday's spring game, which starts at 1 p.m. The kicking game will be limited to field goal and extra point attempts. There will be a purple and white team, with some players having to play on both teams to keep things even.

For the format, it sounds like 80-90 plays will be run in a game-type format. "We're not the deepest team right now, so I don't want to go out and kill these guys, but I do want to give them a chance to play and to show what they've been able to accomplish over the last 15 practices," Sarkisian said.

Friday's practice was short and to the point; special teams work was emphasized because they aren't going to be having special teams during spring game, as well as various items that needed to be cleaned up on both the offensive and defensive ends.

"I'm happy with the front seven, but we have to get good in the back end," Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt said after practice. He said that he's been very pleased with the work of Donald Butler, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Quinton Richardson, Nate Williams and Darrion Jones, who might be one of the most improved players.

The defense wanted to shore up some situations they haven't seen much off so far this spring, like formations and other things to make sure they can get in and out of defenses without busting coverages.

"We made it hard on them, and the kids did a pretty good job," added Holt.

It's also become apparent that the defense is taking to heart the notion of always trying to force a turnover on every single snap. "We've been trying to do that all spring, but it's been this last week where all the kids are starting to really understand the importance of attempting to strip the ball," Holt said. "You're seeing everyone go after the ball, and that's how you create turnovers. And the ball is starting to come out, so that's cool."

Sarkisian said Friday that he went back and took a look at the first few practice days to get a sense of where they've come from and where they are now, and he's very happy with the progress that's been made.

"We're a better football team," he said. "And that's what we wanted to accomplish. We're playing faster and we're more physical. We're more attentive to detail, but the beauty is that there's still a lot of room for improvement.

"We can still get better."
Notes:
Former players starting to show up for the weekend: There were probably 15-20 former players at practice Friday, including Tommie Smith, Olin Kreutz, Shane Pahukoa and Ink Aleaga, among others.

Strike up the band: At the end of practice the Husky pep band came out to the west endzone with the UW cheerleaders and led the team in a few songs, including 'Bow Down to Washington'. That's something I've never seen before, and in talking to former UW Coach Dick Baird after practice, he said he hasn't seen that since the James days.

Spring game personnel update: Matt Sedillo is dealing with a family issue back home in California, so he probably won't be available for the Spring Game. Sarkisian said after practice that E.J. Savannah, D'Andre Goodwin and Kurt Mangum are out. Donald Butler should be able to play and Fred Wiggs is a game-time decision.

Sanchez to call?: I asked Sarkisian after practice if he was going to try and keep in touch with USC QB Mark Sanchez Saturday as he prepares to get drafted, and Sarkisian said no. "It's his day," Sarkisian said, noting that he expects Sanchez to call him when he needs to.


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