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Originally published Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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UW fights at practice and coach Sarkisian responds

Early in the final session of Wednesday's practice, the full-contact team period pitting the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, what appeared to be a little jawing between cornerback Quinton Richardson and receiver Anthony Boyles escalated. Players on both sides rushed into the fray, with the obligatory pushing and shoving and throwing of punches. The coaches ended it fairly quickly, then Sarkisian pulled the team into a big huddle for a quick talk.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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In the structure of Washington's practices under new coach Steve Sarkisian, there is no planned running to close out the day, usually a staple of college football workouts.

The coaches figure the high pace of practice — constant running from drill to drill — gets the team all the conditioning it needs.

"We're always moving," said safety Nate Williams. "Bam, bam, bam, drill, drill, drill. There's really no rest time. That's really our conditioning. That's why we don't run after practice."

That doesn't mean the Huskies weren't doing some sprinting Wednesday, however.

In the fifth practice under Sarkisian, the Huskies learned a little more about their coach — specifically, turn a little scuffle into a big brawl and get ready to run.

Early in the final session of Wednesday's practice, the full-contact team period pitting the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, what appeared to be a little jawing between cornerback Quinton Richardson and receiver Anthony Boyles escalated. Players on both sides rushed into the fray, with the obligatory pushing and shoving and throwing of punches.

The coaches ended it fairly quickly, then Sarkisian pulled the team into a big huddle for a quick talk.

"He said 'that's what losers do' and he doesn't want that in his program," Williams said.

Then Sarkisian made the entire team run the width of the field five times.

"He obviously punished us for it, and I highly doubt that will happen again," said Williams, who said the scuffle was the result of "high tempers" during a second straight full-pads practice.

"I think we all learned our lesson," Williams said.

Sarkisian said he understands fights will break out but that "we just have to teach these guys how to control their emotions and where to exert their energy. Their energy should be exerted on the next snap, not the fight, so we'll learn from it. I'm excited they were fighting about something and got excited about something.

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"I was upset that other guys got involved. Two guys get into a scuffle, that's natural. O-line, D-line, they butt heads against each other all day long, I'd get tired of it too. But when other guys get involved, that's the problem I have."

Numbers game

With 70 scholarship players on the roster this spring and having signed 19 high school and junior college players in February, something will have to give for UW to meet the 85-player scholarship limit this fall.

One way to make it work is for a couple of the incoming high-school players to delay enrollment until after the season, or what is called "grayshirting." That saves the player a year of eligibility but also means they don't arrive until some seniors graduate, opening up scholarships.

"Nip and tuck," Sarkisian said Wednesday. "It's a numbers game right now. We'll see what happens."

Sarkisian confirmed that the Huskies have asked safety Nathan Fellner of Clovis West High in Fresno to potentially grayshirt.

Fellner said he was asked shortly before signing day and that "I was kind of surprised." He said he wants to enroll this fall and is hoping he still can, but if not will enroll after the season as asked.

Sarkisian said another possibility is that safety Will Shamburger of St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif., could delay enrolling to recover from an injury.

Sarkisian also noted some of the junior-college players "still have some work to do" to get academically eligible.

NOTES

• Former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren watched practice accompanied by his son-in-law, Matt Peterson, who works in the UW football office helping to coordinate recruiting. "It's an honor and hopefully our kids recognized that and hopefully he can continue to come out," Sarkisian said.

• Because of injuries, the team was down to three healthy tailbacks for much of practice. None of the injuries appears serious. Among the ailing are Chris Polk, who sat out a second straight day with a leg injury, and Curtis Shaw, who took a helmet to the knee.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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