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Huskies Have 2 Weeks Until Opener - And Will Make The Most Of Them
Release: 08/20/2011
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Aug. 20, 2011

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By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing

SEATTLE - A young bride in a flowing wedding dress and her groom in a tuxedo with what appeared to be a purple tie walked the entire length of the sideline following the Huskies' scrimmage Saturday.

The newlyweds approached Steve Sarkisian and asked the surprised coach to pose with them for post-wedding pictures. The coach obliged. The three of them, with one decidedly underdressed, smiled at the block purple "W" on Husky Stadium's 50-yard line.

"Passionate fan," Sarkisian deadpanned a few minutes later.

The groom was actually a former Husky linebacker Mike McEvoy (2001-04).

The fact that was the most remarkable moment of this full-on scrimmage day makes Sarkisian, new quarterback Keith Price and the rest of the Huskies glad they still have two weeks before their opening game against Eastern Washington.

"We've still got a long way to go," Price said after the offense sputtered.

There were formation errors, false-start and holding penalties - one of which called back a 20-yard touchdown catch by Austin Seferian-Jenkins -- plus dropped passes and general sloppiness in the 90-minute scrimmage.

"I thought offensively, maybe a little `anxious' is the best word," Sarkisian said, back in coach mode minutes after the wedding pictures. "Guys who hadn't been dropping balls all of a sudden decided today to drop far too many balls for our standards. Procedural things ... a couple of holding penalties, which we haven't had all camp.

"I know we are better than that."

Yet there was more proof of a rising program. Sarkisian was pleased the second teams looked almost as good as the first on Saturday.

"We've recruited well enough that now there shouldn't be much disparity between the ones and twos," the coach said.

The starters were without star running back Chris Polk, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday and may miss the Sept. 3 opener.

"Chris was out today, hopefully we get him back soon. We just need to minimize the mistakes, all the penalties, and just play more fundamentally sound," Price said.

Freshman wide receiver Kasen Williams and classmate Seferian-Jenkins, the new, huge tight end, have been wondrous this preseason and will be integral parts of the offense this fall. But they are obviously still learning.

"I've just got to make sure everything is right. I have to make sure they are set before I start my cadence," Price said. "I put that on me.

"They are still thinking a lot, trying to find out formations and the play."

Seferian-Jenkins agrees.

"I made a few mental mistakes," he said. "I just have to keep getting better every day. I'm never going to be comfortable with where I'm at. I just want to keep getting better so I can eliminate those mistakes."

Price was, by very unofficial count, 9 of 14 passing. At least three of his throws were dropped. Sophomore Jesse Callier had seven carries for 26 yards and steady production on the first-team offense's only sustained drive. That ended with Price scrambling then diving across the goal line for a touchdown. Coaches discourage quarterbacks from such plays in scrimmages, since the defense is not allowed to hit them.

"I'm just a competitor. I'm not supposed to do that, but I just needed to get in the end zone," Price said, with his characteristic, beaming smile. "We needed to score, just to end on a right note."

Backup Nick Montana continued his improved August, completing 13 of 25 throws by unofficial count. That included a tipped, 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Hudson.

"I feel like I know the offense pretty well now," said Montana, a redshirt freshman. "There are still a few things here and there, but all in all I feel a lot more comfortable."

Sarkisian liked his defense's physicality, and how it reacted to the second-team offense sustaining long drives on it.

"It's good they had to play through that, to get in football shape," the third-year coach said. "That will be our goal as we move into next week, to get used to playing extended periods of time and utilizing our substitutions and our depth."

Garret Gilliland and Princeton Fuimaono rotated at first-team weak-side linebacker. Nate Fellner, last season's starter, and Justin Glenn rotated as the first-team free safety.

Junior Anthony Gobern was again the first-team cornerback while Quinton Richardson again watched from the sideline without a walking boot over his high ankle sprain. Sarkisian was particularly pleased with the tackling of cornerback Greg Ducre, who is battling Gobern to fill in for Richardson. Coaches have wanted to see Ducre tackle better.

Sarkisian was pleased with the special-teams. Erik Folk boomed kickoffs deep. Kevin Smith ran behind well-formed walls on kickoff returns. And Williams looked comfortable returning punts.

Both punting candidates, seniors Kiel Rasp and Will Mahan, continued to boom the ball and make the call on that job a difficult one.

Overall, Sarkisian said he wished the team wasn't down three injured starters who are potential All-Pac-12 players - defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu sat out to protect a fractured bone in his hand. But the coach said he was pleased with the progress through two weeks of camp.

In a way, Price wished his tenure as Washington's quarterback was coming tomorrow. In another, he's glad it's not.

"Oh, man, I'm really anxious. I can't wait," he said of the opener, smiling again. "(But) two weeks is a lot of time. ... We'll get a lot of things cleaned up."

"Definitely," Sarkisian added, "we have plenty of room to grow from this. And we will."

QUICK HITS: Sophomore Sean Parker continues to look good as the new strong safety. He raced to the sideline to tip away a third-down pass early in the scrimmage, one night after he made another interception in team drills. ... Seferian-Jenkins feels this month has taught him mental toughness of pushing through fatigue and the grind of big-time college football. "You've got to earn every single thing every single day here," said the kid who was at Gig Harbor High School's prom at the beginning of the summer. "You have to get better at something every day." ... no practice Sunday, but the Huskies will host their annual Picture Day at Husky Stadium, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. ... the next practice is Monday at 3:15.

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