Aug. 13, 2010
SEATTLE - The pads came out, and the hits were delivered.
It was a welcome to "real football" moment for fans who made the trip over to Husky Stadium to catch Day 5 of Fall Camp, a date both the student-athletes and coaches had circled on their calenders. With the added element of full contact, the Huskies zipped through a spirited practice in front of a large contingent of fans. And the standouts, in Coach Steve Sarkisian's mind, were clearly the quarterbacks. All three scholarship players (Jake Locker, Keith Price and Nick Montana) were excellent during drills and in live 11-on-11 action.
"This was probably our best day of throwing the ball down the field and making plays," Sarkisian said.
Each of the quarterbacks put their strong arms on display, particularly Locker, whom Sarkisian noted afterwards had his best day since fall camp began. The senior quarterback not only ran the offense smoothly, but also made several big plays to his receiving group. The best might have been a long completion down the middle of the field to receiver D'Andre Goodwin.
The best action in practice came during the 11-on-11s, particularly at the end of the afternoon. Price connected with receiver Cody Bruns for a touchdown to end the practice, ending the day on a high note.
Sarkisian, though, said the "MVP" went to his freshman tailback Jesse Callier, who showed observers why he led the state of California in rushing last year. Callier made strong bursts through the line, frequently reaching the second level of defenders and eluding would-be tacklers. The highlight plays dovetailed with his excellent work in areas such as blitz pickups. This is one of the underrated aspects to a tailback's game, but Sarkisian mentioned Callier has been quite impressive in his ability to learn on the fly.
"The subtleties can sometimes get missed," Sarkisian said. "He pass-protected extremely well today. And then the things like getting out in space and making people miss."
On defense, the introduction of pads made for some spirited competition between the offensive and defensive groups. Safety Nate Fellner provided the hit of the afternoon with a shuddering pop on a Husky running back, drawing "Oohs" from his teammates and fans. Quinton Richardson also made an explosive play out of the defensive backfield with a hit on a would-be receiver.
NOTES: Several freshmen received considerable amount of reps with the first team, but Sarkisian noted this is a page right out of the NFL's playbook, where coaches tend to rest veterans and acclimatize rookies. On the offensive line, Sarkisian said Ryan Tolar was a particular standout, particularly in how the senior used his veteran experience.