Washington's starters dominate spring game
The coaches, desiring a team coming off an 0-12 season to end the spring with a positive vibe, decided to have the starters play against the second unit and the result was a predictable 33-0 rout for the Purple against the White in front of about 10,000 at Husky Stadium.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jake Locker/Ronnie Fouch.
Comment: No doubt who the starter is here, but coaches liked the play of both in the spring. And for first time in a while Huskies have two players returning with significant starting experience.
TB: Chris Polk/Willie Griffin/Demitrius Bronson
FB: Paul Homer/Austin Sylverster
Comment: Tailback may be the most competitive position on the team with coaches saying throughout the spring there was no clear-cut starter. But Polk took a big step toward being atop the depth chart heading into the fall with his play in the spring game. Homer is solid as the fullback.
TE: Kavario Middleton/and or/Chris Izbicki
WR: D'Andre Goodwin/Cody Bruns
WR: Jermaine Kearse/Jordan Polk
WR: Devin Aguilar/Anthony Boyles
Comment: A position that could take a huge leap in performance next season with so many young players beginning to mature. Kearse emerged as most consistent playmaker in the spring with Goodwin sidelined much of the time with a hamstring injury. Tight ends caught eight passes in spring game, indicating they could be used much more next season.
LT: Cody Habben/Mark Armelin
LG: Ben Ossai/Scott Shugert
C: Ryan Tolar/Mykenna Ikehara
RG: Senio Kelemete/Morgan Rosborough
RT: Drew Schaefer/Nick Scott
Comment: Ikehara also saw a lot of time with the starters in the spring, a lineup in which Tolar moved to guard. But coaches hope they can develop a couple more players to work into the regular rotation for the fall. Emergence of Kelemete and Schaefer as starters one of the surprises of the spring.
DE: Daniel Te'o-Nesheim/Everrette Thompson
DT: Alameda Ta'amu/Tyrone Duncan
DT: Cameron Elisara/Craig Noble
DE: Darrion Jones/Kalani Aldrich
Comment: Te'o-Nesheim gives this unit a lot of credibility. Coaches cited Jones as one of the most improved players during the spring. Thompson and Aldrich were injured at the end of the spring but showed potential early.
WLB: E.J. Savannah/Cort Dennison
MLB: Donald Butler/Trenton Tuiasosopo
SLB: Mason Foster/Matt Houston
Comment: The grouping of the three starters plus Tuiasosopo could be one of the better units in the conference and the best on the team. Coaches raved about the play of Foster and Butler during the spring. Developing trustworthy depth a key for the fall.
CB: Justin Glenn/Matt Mosley
CB: Quinton Richardson/Adam Long
SS: Nate Williams/Victor Aiyewa
FS: Johri Fogerson/Greg Walker
Comment: Richardson and Williams seem pretty set as starters but the other spots are pretty uncertain heading into the fall. The addition of JC transfers David Batts (safety) and Dominique Gaise (cornerback) will increase the competition in fall camp.
PK: Erik Folk/Eric Guttrop
P: Will Mahan/Andrew Lutton
Comment: Folk has the strongest leg and is the only scholarship PK but was inconsistent in the spring, missing two PATs in the spring game Saturday. Mahan is a JC transfer arriving in the fall who is expected to win the job.
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Washington's annual spring game was as much celebration as athletic contest.
The coaches, desiring a team coming off an 0-12 season to end the spring with a positive vibe, decided to have the starters play against the second units and the result was a predictable 33-0 rout for the Purple against the White in front of about 10,000 at Husky Stadium.
"We wanted them to come away from here after four quarters feeling good about themselves," said defensive coordinator Nick Holt.
Maybe feeling best of all was quarterback Jake Locker, who made the strongest case yet that he has improved his passing, completing 16 of 18 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. One of the incompletions was dropped by Jermaine Kearse, another just a little high and off the hands of Chris Polk.
"I thought Jake was really sharp," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. "He's playing much more relaxed than he was early in spring. He's just delivering the ball, he's comfortable."
Among those also watching Locker avidly was former UW quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, one of roughly 200 ex-Huskies in town for a reunion organized by the new coaching staff to coincide with the spring game that enhanced the party-like atmosphere.
"I was real impressed," Tuiasosopo said. "We all know he can run — that's not the problem. But he looked very comfortable in the pocket. He's going to be better and this team is going to be better and it's going to be a lot more fun next year."
As part of his effort to have the current Huskies embrace their tradition, Sarkisian invited some of the ex-players to speak to the team this weekend. Saturday before the game, it was Tuiasosopo's turn.
"He showed us his [Rose Bowl] ring and said 'you guys want one of these?' " Polk said. "That fired us up and gave us that much more motivation to push and work hard."
Said Tuiasosopo: "Everyone came out of their seats and jumped in the air. There wasn't much talking, but a lot of barking."
Polk seemed to take the words to heart on the field, as well, rushing for 95 yards on 12 carries in taking a big step toward claiming the No. 1 spot on the depth chart at tailback heading into fall camp. He was the starter a year ago before being hurt two games in and redshirting. He has also been limited in the spring with injuries, which helped jumble the position. But he got seven more carries than any other back Saturday and had the longest run of the day at 25 yards, along with a powerful 9-yard TD.
"He [Sarkisian] told us before we came out here he would make a depth chart based on today, so based on today I hope it's me," Polk said.
Locker also ran for one touchdown from 10 yards out the first score of the day — though he otherwise didn't use his legs much, heeding so well the advice of coaches to stay in the pocket that Sarkisian now says they need to let him free a little more.
Polk's touchdown made it 13-0 and Demitrius Bronson scored next from 12 yards away to make it 20-0. The Purple concluded a perfect first half — scoring TDs on all four drives — when Locker hit running back Willie Griffin with a short pass that Griffin turned into a 29-yard TD.
That was typical of UW's passing attack, which centered on short and intermediate routes and also favored a heavy dose of play-action.
"That gets the defense on their toes," said Kearse, who led the Huskies with five catches for 70 yards and had the final score of the day on an 8-yarder from Locker. "We didn't have that many play-actions last year, and the defense knew it was going to be a run or a pass. This year they have to worry about both."
The offense had two scoreless drives in the second half but it didn't matter as the No. 1 defense pitched a shutout, allowing the White offense to get close only once, a drive that stopped on the day's lone turnover, a fumble recovery by Nate Williams.
Players agreed that it was a great ending to a spring they hope serves as a springboard to a turnaround.
"Everybody is working three times as hard as before," said linebacker Mason Foster. Everybody wants to play for these coaches and they are coming out and competing every day, whether it's in the weight room or video games at the house. It's just a different mentality."
• There were no significant injuries.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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