Sarkisian pleased with first day in pads

SEATTLE - Like rabid dogs wearing muzzles, the UW football team couldn't wait to get out to Husky Stadium and hit somebody during the first full day of pads in preparation for their first big scrimmage day on Saturday. There was plenty of that going on, as well as the requisite pushing, shoving and tearing of helmets off heads - just ask Tyrone Duncan and Ryan Tolar,

UW Head Coach Steve Sarkisian cautioned that they were trying to hold the players back a little bit to make sure they got all their work in.

"I thought our guys practiced well," Sarkisian said after practice. "This wasn't a scrimmage; this was just having full pads on. And our guys stayed off the ground and did things well, and I thought it was an intense practice. So there were some good things there. Ours are always pretty intense, for whatever reason. It always amps up as we get to the team period at the end. But our guys competed well. I'm still really proud of our quarterbacks; I think we've thrown one interception so far in training camp. The intensity is there, but we're still making good decisions."

Sarkisian was asked about those individual players he would be able to identify more when the pads were put on, and he definitely named a few. "I thought Victor Burnett, he showed up today," Sarkisian said of the freshman LB from Culver City, Calif. "Putting on the pads, I thought he made some really nice plays for us. Nate Williams, again…just solid. Cameron Elisara continues to excel. Alameda Ta'amu did some nice things again up front. I'm really, really enjoying Senio Kelemete at left tackle. He just looks natural there, and that's what we were hoping to see. He looks impressive. He looks like a big-time guy."

Elisara, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive lineman, played outside, as well as inside, and could be solid compliment to Talia Crichton if need be. "Slid him out to end a little bit, and he was as effective as he has been at 3-technique," Sarkisian said of Elisara. "He's disruptive, got into the backfield again, and is really solid against the run - really effective."

Sarkisian had plenty of praise for his quarterbacks, who continue to find receivers and make proper reads. Locker, in particular, had the play of the day - a scramble to his left, where he threw across his body to Devin Aguilar at least 40 yards downfield on a rope. It was the kind of play only a handful of quarterbacks in the country can make; Locker made it look routine.

"He's playing at a very high level," Sarkisian said of his senior playcaller. "He used his legs really well today. He threw some balls down the field more than we have the first three days. And those three guys are making plays for him down the field."

And what of Locker's understudies - Keith Price and Nick Montana? "There were some things we did numbers-wise to get 'em a few different looks," Sarkisian said of the backups. "We wanted to see them in some team-setting stuff, and I thought it was effective. They both did some really nice things again today."

Sarkisian acknowledged that being able to redshirt Price last year should pay dividends for the Huskies right now. "I think it's helpful," he said when asked about always wanting to redshirt quarterbacks when they first come into a program. "For some of the other positions, like o-line and d-line, it's the physical maturation process is critical. For quarterback, it's more mental. If you can get those mental reps…and I think you're seeing with Keith Price. When we go to fall camp, day one this year compared to last year, it's going to be a night and day difference. You're seeing it already. Nick Montana…the value of a redshirt would be great, but that remains to be see whether or not we'll get that luxury.

"I want to see the guy who is best prepared for that spot: If Keith is that guy, so be it."

Today was also a big day for the two freshman running backs - Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier. "Until I look at the film I won't exactly know some of the pass protection stuff," Sarkisian said. "But as Day Four hits, with all the installation on offense, all the installation on defense, and then we throw pads on 'em - it's not always about their physical toughness, it's their mental toughness. Neither of them were in shock or awe. They just came out and played again."

The coaches weren't the only ones interested to see how the frosh handled the hitting. The defense was a bit curious as well. "They want to see how they respond," Sarkisian added. "They want to see how they are like. They want to see, after they take a big hit, what they do. Both those two kids, what I appreciate about them…they keep their mouths shut and they get back in the huddle and they go again."

That has definitely been a hallmark of the Huskies' first four practice days; they have been workmanlike. In fact, the receiving corps might be as good a unit out there as anyone, and it would be easy to overlook their good play. "They are all playing well," Sarkisian said of the WR corps. "From (Jermaine) Kearse, (Devin) Aguilar, James Johnson, they are all making plays. That's what we're hoping to see, and when old number 10 is spinning it, it's a pretty good group."

Fans might be happy to note that hoopster Clarence Trent not only got through his first day in full pads, but he also made a stop on the last play of the team period. "He made the play," Sarkisian said of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound redshirt frosh DE. "That was good for him. It was in the run game, not the pass game, so his game is starting to evolve. He's starting to get his feet underneath him."
Injury report:
DE De'Shon Matthews had a sore achilles on Tuesday, so they let him rest for most of the practice. Sarkisian also said that WR/HLD Cody Bruns suffered a concussion on Saturday, so he was also held out. Jordan Polk was also held out after injuring a hamstring on Saturday.

In the house: Plenty of interested spectators Tuesday watching from the sidelines. Signees Erik Kohler, Ben Riva and Zach Fogerson were at practice, as well as recruits Landon Lydig of Bothell and Jason Thompson from Kennedy. Thompson is the younger brother of DE Everrette Thompson. Head Hoops Coach Lorenzo Romar was there, as was Assistant Coach Raphael Chillious. Former UW DE Jason Chorak was there, as was former QB's Brock Huard and Hugh Millen. Former UW coach Dick Baird was also at practice for the first time this spring.

Kicking update: Erik Folk was 1-4 Tuesday, with his one kick good from 43 yards in blustery conditions. With Bruns out, that meant the holder was punter Will Mahan. Top Stories