Ducre, Peters, Parker and Shamburger; that’s the clear starting four so far in a secondary that has lost Desmond Trufant and Justin Glenn from last season.
By Gregg Bell
UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE -- Greg Ducre and Will Shamburger converged like center and right fielders under the ball, thrown high over the middle 45 yards on a post route downfield.
The heavy congestion the Huskies’ two defensive backs had created left Kasen Williams almost no room to move. Only because Williams has unique physical gifts at 6-feet-2 and 212 pounds with a state high-school-champion leaping pedigree did the wide receiver force himself through Ducre and Shamburger to catch Keith Price’s deep pass Monday night.
As Williams tumbled to the Husky Stadium turf with the ball, Ducre and Shamburger looked at each other seemingly bewildered.
As great as the catch was, the fact half of UW’s new defensive backfield were on the play – and that it took an extraordinary effort from one of the two Huskies who could have possibly made that catch (along with 6-6 Austin Seferian-Jenkins) to make it – shows one of Washington’s most intriguing position battles is taking early shape.
Ducre made one start at cornerback last season and Shamburger made two at safety in 2012. But the guys who started in front of them are gone now – cornerback Desmond Trufant is a first-round draft choice trying to start for the Atlanta Falcons, and Justin Glenn is trying to catch on after a May stint with the Kansas City Chiefs.
They’ve left Ducre and Shamburger as the senior leaders in a secondary for 2013. Sean Parker, a senior who was a co-captain last season, is entrenched at the other safety next to Shamburger. And Marcus Peters, who started the final nine games of last season, has the edge so far at right cornerback opposite Ducre.
At least that was the read from what coach Steve Sarkisian saw and said of his current backups, after he rested the nicked-up Peters and had Cleveland Wallace at right cornerback Monday night for the second of two practices on day eight of UW’s preseason.
“We need to get Cleveland Wallace going even more,” Sarkisian said of the redshirt freshman. “We need to get (junior-college transfer) Travell Dixon going more. We are getting beat deep too much there.”
So that’s where what Sarkisian had called at the beginning of this month a “most intriguing” set of position battles clearly stands, entering the 10th of 24 preseason practices.
After Monday night’s ninth practice, Sarkisian praised Ducre for being consistent so far this spring and summer. Ducre, who started six of the Huskies’ 12 regular-season games in 2011 at cornerback as a sophomore, has shown off speed getting to passes in flight. That speed that had him on the Huskies’ indoor track team as a 60-yard sprinter this past winter (Williams, by the way, was long jumping with that team): http://www.gohuskies.com/ViewArticle.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=30200&ATCLID=208030372.
No need to remind Ducre there are 18 days before UW hosts Boise State in Husky Stadium’s reopening.
Urgency is what is getting him out of bed in his dorm room each day with the team’s 6:30 a.m. wakeups.
“I’m just ready to do this season and go out with a bang,” he said.
Peters is a redshirt sophomore. So his urgency isn’t like Ducre’s; he’s got two more seasons of eligibility at UW after this one.
Yet he can’t wait for the opener Aug. 31, either. That’s because of the $261 million home he’s now getting to know for the first time. The team will begin operating out of its new, glittering football operations center, locker room, training room and weight room on Monday.
“Man, it’s wonderful,” Peters said of the new Husky Stadium. “It’s going to be so awesome that first game playing here.”
ASJ INJURES FINGER
Seferian-Jenkins, named a preseason All-American tight end by Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News, jammed the small finger of his right hand during the passing-game portion of team scrimmaging late in Monday night’s practice.
Last year’s only underclassman finalist for the John Mackey Award given annually to the nation’s top tight end appeared to injure the finger while trying to catch a pass near the sideline from Price in the second practice of the day. He was examined by trainers and a team doctor then went up the tunnel leading from the Husky Stadium field with them. He returned to the sidelines a few minutes later.
Sarkisian didn’t sound too concerned after practice ended.
"He’s got a deal (where) he jammed his pinkie a little bit. We’ll see what it is," Sarkisian said.
The coach then added, “He has 10 fingers.”
Still, don’t be surprised if Seferian-Jenkins watches Tuesday’s fuller team scrimmage, especially since the team still has 2½ weeks before the first game.
The scrimmage will include tacking, which hasn’t happened much yet in camp.
COONS BOOMS ‘EM
Travis Coons continued his impressive start to the preseason by making all five of his field-goal tries during special-teams scrimmaging Monday night. The senior who handled all kicking and punting duties for UW last season drilled his final attempt from 53 yards out.
Coons’ competition for field-goal duties is Cameron Van Winkle. The true freshman missed three of his first tries ranging from 28 to 53 yards. One of his kicks was blocked; his try from 53 yards was six yards short.
Van Winkle has the edge so far in kickoffs, which were shorter than Sarkisian wanted last season.
Coons has been booming punts in that competition with Korey Durkee, who punted in some early games last season before Coons took over full time. Saturday, Coons nailed to 50-plus yards while backup up to the backline of his own end zone with a rush coming.
The kickers will get a big stage during Tuesday’s full scrimmage, after which Sarkisian said the coaches will re-evaluate all personnel to confirm position fits — and, perhaps, misfits.