April 27, 2010
Steve Sarkisian's first Spring Football campaign at Washington as competition. The second-year coach has preached this April his desire to orchestrate position battles throughout the roster as the Huskies continue to perfect his schemes.
After the penultimate spring practice on Tuesday, Sarkisian praised the efforts he's continuing to see on the field. The reward for this hard-hitting month is Friday night's Spring Game, the first that will be played under the lights of Husky Stadium. It's a chance for the student-athletes to enjoy themselves in front of what promises to be a larger-than-average crowd for spring football. As Sarkisian has often said, he wants his players used to performing in prime-time situations.
"I want to make sure it's entertaining for our fans, but I also want to make it competitive (for our student-athletes)," Sarkisian said.
The Spring Game will also sport a slightly different format, with no punts or kickoffs and a running clock throughout (save for change of possessions). In addition, Sarkisian also plans a few surprises for the fans and students in attendance.
"We'll have some fun events throughout the game to get the crowd involved in the game and some different contests," Sarkisian said.
This wasn't the only new aspect of the 2010 edition of Spring Football. Sarkisian spaced out the practices over five weeks, which has left him with a relatively healthy team so far, save for a few minor bumps and bruises. He marveled at how fast the team has played so far, which goes to show the level to which they're learning his philosophies on offense and defense.
This has also led to some intense competition. With a lot of question marks going into fall camp, there opportunities are there for the student-athletes to make a lasting impression heading into a long summer break. In particular, Sarkisian heralded the recent play of safety Will Shamburger, calling him the "most improved" player from the first practice to now.
It was an example of how a player can play his way into reps with the No. 1 unit, similar to what Chris Izbicki has accomplished at the tight end position. Same with offensive lineman Daniel Kanczugowski, who has gone from walk-on to starting right tackle in the absence of Cody Habben. The sophomore - who has played in only one game - was known more as a rugby player out of O'Dea, but an invitation to last year's fall camp led to a spot on the team.
"I'm just happy to run around this spring and get reps," Kanczugowski said.
Before delving into the minutia of Tuesday's practice, Sarkisian took a moment to thank Mark Emmert for his service to the University of Washington. Emmert was named Tuesday as the president of the NCAA.
"He's put the University in a great place from an academic standpoint and an athletic standpoint," Sarkisian said. "And whoever comes into take his place will be in great standing. (Emmert) has done an excellent job. I appreciate spending a year-and-a-half with him."