Washington football winds up fall training camp
As the youngest head football coach in the Pac-10 at age 35, Steve Sarkisian is far from the personification of a grizzled veteran. Still, he's old enough...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
As the youngest head football coach in the Pac-10 at age 35, Steve Sarkisian is far from the personification of a grizzled veteran.
Still, he's old enough to break out a "back in my day" story when the moment fits.
Thursday was one such moment, as Washington officially ended fall training camp with its final two-a-day practices.
The end of double days, however, is not quite the cause for celebration that it used to be, due to NCAA restrictions on two-a-days enacted five years ago in an effort to prevent heat-related injuries. Specifically, teams can no longer practice twice on consecutive days, nor during the first five days of camp.
"When I was playing, we had 15 of them, so that was camp," Sarkisian said, recalling his days at Brigham Young in the mid-1990s. "That was a real grind."
Washington, in contrast, had just six two-a-days and wound down camp Thursday with two light practices — the afternoon workout lasted less than an hour — as part of Sarkisian's quest to keep the team as healthy and fresh as possible for the opener Sept. 5 against Louisiana State.
So the end of camp was almost more symbolic than anything else, a sign that the season is now at hand. After a closed practice today that will feature a mock-game walk-through, the Huskies will get into regular-season game-week preparation for LSU.
Sarkisian has preached optimism since being hired in December, and he said nothing has happened in camp to dim his enthusiasm with the season now almost here.
"I feel a lot better [now than heading into camp]," he said. "Just from a physical standpoint we are much better. But as important as anything, I think fundamentally and technically we are better."
Sarkisian said he would wait a few days to unveil an official depth chart. But the open practices have allowed fans and media to get a pretty good idea of where things stand. So with camp over, here's a brief overview of each position group.
Quarterback: No surprise here, as Jake Locker is the starter backed up by Ronnie Fouch. Coaches have lauded Locker's improved accuracy.
Running back: Chris Polk figures to be the starter, if healthy — he's been out a few days with a mild concussion — but Sarkisian said as many as four tailbacks may play regularly. The others figure to be Willie Griffin, Curtis Shaw and Johri Fogerson, impressive since converting from safety. Paul Homer is back at fullback, assuming his hamstring issues are in the past.
Offensive line: The starters seem set — Cody Habben at left tackle, Ben Ossai at left guard, Ryan Tolar at center, Senio Kelemete at right guard and Drew Schaefer at right tackle. More of an issue is depth, as injuries have UW with just nine healthy scholarship linemen at the moment.
Receiver: In one of the biggest surprises of camp, true freshman James Johnson appears to have emerged as one starter alongside Jordan Polk, who was a backup entering camp, and Devin Aguilar. Jermaine Kearse and D'Andre Goodwin, who entered camp as starters, remain in contention and will play regularly. Kavario Middleton has emerged as the No. 1 tight end, though Chris Izbicki will also see the field often.
Defensive line: This has been one of the most stable positions, with seniors Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darrion Jones entrenched at end and Cameron Elisara and Alameda Ta'amu at tackle. Coaches also like the young depth that has emerged.
Linebackers: Another real stable spot, with seniors E.J. Savannah and Donald Butler and junior Mason Foster the starters.
Secondary: Much more uncertainty here, though Quinton Richardson appears set as one cornerback and Nate Williams as one safety. But Williams could be at free or strong depending on who wins the other safety job, though the overall position will likely be by committee with four or five guys playing regularly. True freshman Desmond Trufant has gotten a lot of looks with the starting defense at cornerback this week. Justin Glenn and Adam Long are also in the mix there.
Special teams: Erik Folk, despite some inconsistency through camp, seems set as the kicker, and JC transfer Will Mahan has been solid at punter. Fogerson and Aguilar loom as the top two punt returners and Richardson and Jordan Polk the kickoff returners.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com
Copyright © The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.