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Originally published August 21, 2010 at 7:42 PM | Page modified August 21, 2010 at 7:54 PM

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Defense wins the day in UW scrimmage

A University of Washington football scrimmage is never an easy thing to read since quarterbacks are off limits to contact. And that means one of the most dangerous weapons of any team in the country this season — the running of Jake Locker — is essentially rendered null.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A University of Washington football scrimmage is never an easy thing to read since quarterbacks are off limits to contact. And that means one of the most dangerous weapons of any team in the country this season — the running of Jake Locker — is essentially rendered null.

Then remove two of the team's top three receivers (Jermaine Kearse and James Johnson) and the team's starting left tackle (Senio Kelemete), who were all sidelined with minor injuries, and the result of Saturday's full-scale scrimmage at Husky Stadium seems a little more predictable.

An offense that some feel could be among the top three or four in the Pac-10 this season was held to one touchdown and one field goal in five possessions against the No. 1 defense.

But while UW coach Steve Sarkisian acknowledged that the absences and structure of the scrimmage probably helped the defense, he said the defense definitely won the day.

"The defense today came out with the right energy and passion and was really focused and locked in early on and they played physical, enthusiastic football, which is the style of play we like to play with," he said.

Despite the personnel issues on offense, Sarkisian said that "I think we have enough talent offensively that we can perform better than we did early on."

The offense, however, at least left the field with a little bit of good feeling, marching 70 yards on six plays in a two-minute drill to cap the first half — the final series for the first-team offense. Locker ended the drive with a 3-yard TD pass to Cody Bruns, who got a lot of time with the ones because of the injuries to Kearse (foot) and Johnson (ankle). Also in on that drive was true freshman Erik Kohler, getting a series at left tackle in place of Kelemete (ankle).

Locker finished 9-of-13 passing for 70 yards, right at the goal Sarkisian has set for completing 65 to 68 percent of his passes.

Locker agreed though that the defense won the day.

"They came ready to play and I thought we were a little lackadaisical at the beginning," he said. "We have to understand that we can't just show up and that's enough. We have to come out ready to play and bring it every time we come on the field."

The defense got some particularly solid play from its defensive tackles, notably sophomore Semisi Tokolahi, who is essentially working in a rotation with Alameda Ta'amu and Cameron Elisara as a starter. Locker was sacked (down when touched) twice on one series, once by Tokolahi.

"I think inside we have some really good depth that we didn't have last year," said defensive coordinator Nick Holt.

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The second half was left to the backups, which meant an extended chance for quarterbacks Nick Montana and Keith Price to impress the coaches.

Montana was 7 of 11 for 55 yards and led a touchdown drive late that he capped with an 8-yard pass to fellow true freshman DiAndre Campbell. He also led another drive that ended in a field goal in six total possessions.

Price, a redshirt freshman, was 10 of 15 for 91 yards and led one drive that ended in a field goal.

Sarkisian said he's still not ready to name a backup.

"We're going to assess these first two weeks here over the weekend and then next week and come at least to some clear sense that I'm not going to wait until God forbid, something happens to Jake, that I make the decision off the cuff on the sidelines, wherever we are," he said. "I'm going to have a plan in mind."

However, he said it's possible he won't announce a backup publicly, preferring not to tip off the opponent.

Sarkisian indicated that in the last week Price might have had a slight edge.

"He's playing pretty efficient, that's for sure," Sarkisian said of Price. "I think he's played consistently. Nick might have had a lull here or there. I thought Nick did some things today, as did Keith but I think from a consistency standpoint for probably the last five to six practices, Keith has been playing at a pretty high level."

Note

• The Huskies will take Sunday off before resuming practice Monday at 3 p.m. They will have two more two-a-days, on Tuesday and Thursday, before officially calling an end to camp and getting into gameweek preparation for their opener at Brigham Young on Sept. 4.

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

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