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April 24, 2009
Final spring practice in the books
Washington's final spring practice before Saturday's annual game was short and sweet. It took only an hour, but the Husky coaches used the time to clean up some things on both sides of the ball, and get a lot of special team work in.
"What we wanted today was good speed so the kids are locked in and not screwing around," explained defensive coordinator Nick Holt. "We needed to see some checks and some situations we hadn't gotten a lot of during spring camp. Just some certain formations that we needed to see in order to get us in and out of our defenses, because they are going to come up during the season."
"I wanted us to be fresh tomorrow and for us to play fast," head coach Steve Sarkisian continued about Friday's practice. "Obviously, today there was a lot of emphasisi on special teams because we are not going to get that tomorrow. We wanted to clean up some things, and practice was scripted today to clean up some areas of concern, and to obviously get some two-minute drills done. Although we weren't out here long, I thought we got a lot accomplished."
During the 11-on-11 drills, the Huskies continued to show improvement. Wide receiver Jordan Polk caught multiple passes again today and has had a very good spring camp.
He out leaped safety Tripper Johnson for one catch, and got behind cornerback Marquis Persley, and down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdowns reception from Ronnie Fouch.
Anthony Boyles had the catch of the day, leaping over Vonzell McDowell in the endzone on a jump ball, for a long touchdown.
As a group the running backs continue to impress, and today Willie Griffin ripped off a 40-yard run right up the gut while running with the starters.
However, no single running back has separated himself from the group, and this battle will wage on until the fall.
"No, not really," Sark said when asked if any running back had taken the lead. "Like I have said before, we are going to have to take the entire spring and cut up each guy up, and watch them individually to get a fair assessment of them."
Luckily the entire group is healthy and will have a chance to show what they can do on Saturday.
"They are all ready to go and we need to get them a lot of carries," Sark continued.
All in all Sarkisian is pleased with his teams effort this spring, but also believes it's just the beginning.
"I'm excited and I went back and watched our first three practices again," he said. "Then I watched our three most previous three, and we are a better football team. We are playing faster, we are more physical, we are more attentive to details, and the beauty of that is we still have a lot of room for improvement."
"I am fired up because I think the coaches did a great job and the players really responded to the coaches."
"We installed most of our defenses," continued Holt. "I think the kids have a working knowledge in it and are getting better at it. I am pleased our kids have learned how to practice with intensity, and I think they have learned how to have fun. I think we are more physical then we might have been, hopefully that is the case. We tackled a lot and really worked on our tackling. Our kids have just gotten a lot better throughout spring and that has really shown up in the last week."
Holt also thinks the front end of the defense has a chance to be special.
"I like our front seven and think they are solid. I like our linebacker core, and I think they can be as good as anybody we play against. I also think we have a few defensive lineman that could play anywhere for anybody. We still need to develop our secondary, but we have a lot of good young prospects back there, but we just need to get them reps so they can get better."
Sarkisian announced there won't be any kick offs or punting during the spring game, presumably to keep people healthy.
He plans on running 80-90 plays during the scrimmage, and hopes to keep his players healthy while still letting them have some fun.
"We are still not the deepest team so I'm not trying to kill these guys," Sarkisian explained. "But I do want to give them the chance to go out and play and show what they have accomplished over 15 practices."
The lack of depth has a lot to do with injuries, and a number of key players will be out for the Spring game. WR D'Andre Goodwin, LB E.J. Savannah, Skyler Fancher, Everrette Thompson, LB Cort Dennison, LB Kurt Mangum are all out, and Fred Wiggs is a game time decision.
Because of this, Sarkisian plans on mixing up the starters and second string players, and also expects some to play with both teams.
There are going to be guys that are going to have to flip flop sides to make sure we have numbers," Sark explained. "We will mix it up decently."
Kickoff for the spring game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and admission is free to all.
There was a great moment at the end of practice when the entire team gathered in the west endzone to watch the UW band and cheerleaders. The players were dancing and sang along to 'Bow Down to Washington' in what was truly a special moment and great end to Spring practices.
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