April 14, 2013
By Gregg Bell - UW Director of Writing
SEATTLE - Steve Sarkisian and his Huskies assistants were wearing headsets.
Seattle's Jimi Hendrix and "Purple Haze" were blaring over the speakers. Spectators, most of them participants in Sarkisian's annual spring coaches' clinic, were ringing the field at the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility.
"It's just that easy, dog!" Price yelled to his offensive mates as they jogged off the field after the efficient touchdown drive.
Except it wasn't.
Saturday afternoon's 2½-hour practice ended with what amounted to a dress-rehearsal scrimmage for next weekend's spring game. And it was dominated by defense.
Cornerback Marcus Peters intercepted a deep pass from Cyler Miles to end the drive after Price's touchdown throw. Defensive end Andrew Hudson scooped up a fumble after a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown.
Linebacker Shaq Thompson sprinted past a would-be block and dumped Jaydon Mickens immediately after he caught a wide-receiver screen. Thomas Vincent, a walk-on quarterback until coaches switched him to defensive back last month, dumped a ball carrier for a loss then cut down a receiver in the flat to stop a third-and-short play.
"The defense definitely got the better of us for a minute," Price said, speaking for all the offensive units. "But offensively, we competed. It was fun. I had fun."
That's because the scrimmage was as full-go and extensive as the Huskies will get before fall camp begins in August. The 6-foot-4, 223-pound Miles and fellow backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist, 6-3, 234, took off their usual, gold, "no-contact" jerseys for purple, so the defense could hit them like anyone else.
"You can get in a comfort zone, a false sense of reality to what the game is really like. They are both really athletic guys. They are both big guys. And I wanted them to get the chance to run with the football, to show what they can do," Sarkisian said.
"And It was good for the defense to actually have to tackle the quarterbacks, and they did make those plays. Part of them was cheering - and part of them were like, `Oh, no, now we've got to tackle these big guys.'"
Miles, who redshirted his first year at UW in 2012, produced the only other touchdown of the scrimmage, on a short pass in the flat to Kendyl Taylor. Taylor, a wide receiver who is also getting time at running back, bulled through two defenders inside the 5-yard line to score.
The Dawgs stayed in no-huddle mode and utilized most of their playbook, with varied formations and plays and personnel groupings.
That's something that won't necessarily happen next Saturday at the annual spring game at 4 p.m. at Seattle Center's Memorial Stadium under the Space Needle.
Sarkisian is going to spend through Monday mulling over the format he will use for the nationally televised spring game, which is also open to the public with free admission. Assorted nicks and bruises from the first 12 spring practices - plus key players still out while coming off surgeries such as offensive lineman Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper - may keep the spring game from being a "game" between purple and white teams.
"It's a tricky one. When you play at this (no-huddle) pace, when you try to sub, it's hard to sub and have teams. I want to make it a very good format for our fans, that's entertaining, because I think we have an exciting football team and a good football team. I want them to have the opportunity to see that.
"I am also cognizant of the fact it's open to the public and that it's on national television, on Pac-12 Networks. So how much we do schematically we have to figure out.
"We'll figure it all out. Again, I hope it's a great atmosphere next Saturday at Memorial, and that we can put on a good show for our fans."
INSIDE THE DAWGS: Sarkisian said again that he has yet to determined exactly the punishment for TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins beyond being suspended indefinitely and away from the team. "To Austin's credit, so far he is continually doing the things we have asked him to do, so that when we deem the appropriate time he can earn himself back on the roster. He's a good kid. He made a bad decision and made a mistake. He's learned from it. He's obviously going to have to pay the price from it. Hopefully the rest of our organization can learn from that mistake ... and we can move forward. I'm always the one to look at the positive in things, and I think Austin will be better for it. I think our team will be better for it off the field. I think our team will be better for it on the field. ... I know what the type of individual Austin is. I know what he means to the community. I know the great work he does in our community. I know what type of student he is. So I don't think this one mistake by Austin is truly indicative of his character or indicative of his behavior. But he made a mistake." ... Asked what he is weighing in the decision on punishment of his record setting tight end for a driving-under-the-influence charge, Sarkisian said: "We'll get to a decision that we think is far to Austin, is fair to our team, and is fair to the University of Washington. And we'll move on." ... Starting TB Bishop Sankey sat out because he was sore, Sarkisian said. The coach knew the scrimmage would be full go and saw no sense in putting his 1,400-yard back out in it four-plus months before the opener. ... The Huskies practice next on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.