Aug. 25, 2009
by Michael Jeremiah
SEATTLE -- Paul Homer doesn't like missing practice. In the three fall camps before this year, Homer had a perfect attendance record, never missing a practice from camp legs, a slight strain or any of the other annoyances that can knock someone out. So when Homer was sidelined with a hamstring for almost a week, his inactivity started to wear on him.
"I hate being out," said Homer, who returned to practice yesterday. "It feels great [to be back]."
Luckily, Homer's injury was a strain, and the two-year starter at fullback was only lost for a week. The fear was that pushing the strain could turn into a more serious injury, and the Huskies cannot afford to lose such an important player to their offense. Now, the goal is for Homer to be comfortable with the offense before the Huskies season opener against LSU on Sept. 5.
"I'm definitely playing catch up," said Homer. "I have to work back into it. I really haven't seen much of camp so I'm way behind right now."
Missing camp is a problem that is compounded by the fact that Homer has missed the reps needed to learn the new offense. In his return to the field yesterday, Homer ran mostly with the second unit.
In the time that he has been watching from the sidelines, Homer has liked what he has seen from the Huskies in camp.
"I've never missed a day of camp," said Homer. "For our team actually, it's going really good though. Every day you're seeing progression, playing fast. Guys are slowing down a little bit, just because we get camp legs. But our team is accelerating every day and that's awesome."
Homer has also been impressed by what he has seen on the offensive side of the ball and the comfort level of quarterback Jake Locker has with the new offense.
"There are a couple different concepts, a lot more check downs," said Homer. "The quarterbacks seem to feel better. It's a pro-style offense. I think [Locker's] got some more options. There are some good schemes out there. You see receivers getting open all the time so that's good."
The schemes are thanks to the new coaching staff of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and Coach Steve Sarkisian. After watching Sarkisian's offense at USC from the sidelines the last three years, Homer is seeing Sarkisian work for the first time up close this year. The ability to mold his new players and his scheme around each other to make the two parts work without messing up either has been a quality that has stood out to Homer so far.
"I think these coaches are doing a good job of using the personnel and making their system work with what we got," said Homer. "Those guys are top-of-the-line coaches and so they're going to know how to do that."
Sarkisian's prowess on offense has drawn Homer's attention in practice, as he is trying to accelerate the process of learning the new offense after his injury setback. While some of the offense is similar to last year's, it's still a challenge to pick up the new offense in such a short time and hanging around Sarkisian at practice has helped.
"If you really watch him closely you can see how his mind is working and it's just insane," said Homer. "As a player, it helps to watch him watch because he'll see things that you'll never see so it helps out a bit."
Homer will learn whatever he can from Sarkisian with just over a week left before the Huskies face off against the Tigers.
A normally calm and serious demeanor changes to a smile when Homer is asked about the showdown with LSU and its obvious the senior is ready to going in 2009.
"Every day it gets closer it gets a little bit more exciting and we get a little bit more pumped up," said Homer. "That's what our whole goal is. You see more light at the end of the tunnel every time you go out there."
Now that Homer is back on the practice field, the tunnel is a little brighter, as is the outlook for the Huskies with their senior fullback returning to a lineup that he has been a stalwart of for most of his career. A normally calm and serious demeanor changes to a smile when Homer was about the showdown with LSU. It's obvious the senior is ready to go in 2009.
The Washington football team held the first of two practices Tuesday morning at Husky Stadium, working in helmets only. The Dawgs will re-convene for another workout Tuesday evening.
TUESDAY MORNING PRACTICE UPDATE: Not too much in terms of news after morning practice, as is often the case at this late stage of camp. Freshman quarterback Keith Price, who had to sit out on Monday due to an initial eligibility clearance issue, was back in action Tuesday. Otherwise, there were few changes from the previous day.
Check out the video of Coach Sarkisian's post-practice talk with the press for more and, of course, don't miss defensive coordinator Nick Holt and his address to the media, also above.
TUESDAY EVENING PRACTICE UPDATE: One major attraction at the evening practice was a visit from legendary Husky head coach Don James, who watched the workout from the sideline.
James, the UW head coach from 1975-92, spoke briefly beforehand with Coach Sarkisian and was greeted by well-wishers, many of them prior acquaintances, for much of the time he was here. But, that didn't keep him from keeping one eye on the field. He even spent several minutes chatting with the referee crew that was on hand to officiate the scrimmage portion of practice.
The Dawgfather told the sports writers who were there that he's been impressed with the new coaching staff and with Sarkisian in particular. He said that everything he's heard indicates that the team is working hard and making improvements.
For a practice that wasn't a full scrimmage, it was as well attended as any this fall.
The fall camp season is winding down. Here's a look at the rest of the schedule:
Wed., Aug. 26 -- Practice, 3:00 p.m.
Thu., Aug. 27 -- Practices, 8:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.
Fri., Aug. 28 -- Raise the Woof! celebration and dinner, 6:00 p.m. (PRACTICE IS CLOSED TO ALL)
REGULAR-SEASON PRACTICES: Husky fans are encouraged to come out to Husky Stadium to watch football practices Monday through Thursday throughout the regular season.
All Tyee Club members, football season-ticket holders, former Husky players, family of current players, high-school prospects and their coaches are welcome to practice each Monday through Thursday, as are members of the media. Just check in at the gate at the northeast corner, field level, and please bring ID.
In preparation for a night game in the season-opener vs. LSU, practices will begin at 7:15 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) and at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3. The Huskies will also practice Saturday, August 29, at 10:30 a.m.
Practice schedules will change from week to week before school starts. Make sure to check here at gohuskies.com for more.