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Originally published Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 8:19 PM

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Running game looks good in UW's first full scrimmage

Offense, lead by Curtis Shaw's 70 yards, racks up 197 yards on the ground

Seattle Times staff reporter

Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs


First-year Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is not only trying to prepare a team for this season but rebuild a program for seasons to come.

And in the first full-scale scrimmage of fall camp for the Huskies, he tried to accomplish a little bit of both. After letting the No. 1 offense and defense go against each other for two series, he decided to turn it over to the youngsters, letting the second and third units play the rest of the way. Sarkisian said it was akin to the first NFL exhibition game.

"One, we wanted to keep [the starters] healthy, and two, we wanted to see our young guys," Sarkisian said. "As I've said all along, when we get to go play LSU on Sept. 5, we want to be a fresh, healthy football team. We don't want to be battered and bruised. But we are also trying to compile as much information as we can on our young guys."

And the initial data indicated that there may be some life in the running game, after all.

Through most of the first 10 practices of fall camp, the defensive front seven has seemed to have its way.

But the running attack finally got going Tuesday as the Huskies gained 197 yards on 36 carries. All but 14 yards came when the second and third units were on the field. The Huskies, however, were in no mood to quibble the details.

"The outside was looking real open today, so we just took advantage," said tailback Curtis Shaw, who had a team-high 70 yards on four carries, including a long of 55 that set up one touchdown. "And you see the results."

In fact, each of the team's five tailbacks had something to feel good about, though the stars were Shaw, Johri Fogerson (48 yards rushing and another 58 receiving) and Chris Polk (a 33-yard reception out of the backfield from Jake Locker against the No. 1 defense).

"I think our running game in general was pretty impressive," Sarkisian said.

Polk said a recent meeting of the offense after a few rough outings helped lead to the revival.

"We started to play a lot better because our coaches really got on us in meetings that we have to take this to heart that if we don't establish the run game, we are not going to be a very good football team," Polk said. "So we met and Jake gathered us all up and said 'we've got to do this.' "

In an effort to get the offense going, the coaches also made one change upfront this week, inserting senior Nick Scott into the lineup at right tackle ahead of redshirt freshman Drew Schaefer. Scott, a former walk-on who transferred a year ago from Drake University, has had a good camp, Sarkisian said.

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"It happens up front," Fogerson said. "They picked their game up so it allows us to get going, so that's basically the big difference."

Polk's catch and run set up the only score for the No. 1 offense, a 39-yard field goal by Eric Guttorp (who handled those duties with regular kicker Erik Folk sidelined with a minor knee injury).

Fogerson, meanwhile, also had a 50-yard punt return and is making a fast move up the depth chart at tailback since switching back to the position from safety.

"I picked it up a lot faster than I thought he would," he said of readjusting to tailback.

Locker was 4 of 8 passing for 55 yards before calling it a day (on the second drive, the No. 1 offense picked up one first down before being stopped).

In his absence, backups Ronnie Fouch and Keith Price each had highlight moments. Fouch threw for TDs of 16 yards to Anthony Boyles and 15 to Cody Bruns, while Price had a 4-yarder to tight end Marlion Barnett. Fouch ended 4 for 11 for 89 yards while Price was 6 for 12 for 83 yards and also ran seven times for another 33. None of the QBs threw an interception

Of Price, a true freshman, Sarkisian said: "You see that the guy is a playmaker, a football player, and I think his future is very bright."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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