Nothing seemed out of the ordinary Wednesday at the Washington Huskies football practice. Squads were divided up. Scout-team preparation was the emphasis. The action was flying by.
And suddenly, in one big “Ratta-tat-tat” swoop, plays took their toll:
• It started with receiver Devin Aguilar, who tried laying out for a low pass from Jake Locker. He ended up on his knees right when linebacker Joshua Gage came over the top of him. Aguilar’s knee buckled under the impact.
In minutes, Aguilar’s left knee had a big pack of ice wrapped around it, and taped up. He did not return.
• On the first play of the final 11-on-11 session, true freshman James Johnson caught a 13-yard pass and dragged a couple defenders with him.
A few plays later, he was on the sideline with his own bag of ice draped over his right shoulder. Johnson has had some issues with the same shoulder off and on.
• D’Andre Goodwin was Locker’s target on the first-string offense’s second series of 11-on-11s. He went up for the pass right at the same time safety Victor Aiyewa converged on the play. The ball was deflected, and eventually intercepted by Tripper Johnson.
Goodwin stayed on the turf. He did not return with an unspecified injury.
“Victor wasn’t even trying to hit him, he was trying to catch him,” Sarkisian said. “They just ran into each other.”
• The second-unit offense was on the field for the final series. On a run play, linebacker came up, got stuck in a crowd and went to the field, dazed. He got up, and walked off with a noticeable limp (leg or knee injury).
Sarkisian, who isn’t one to discuss injuries in great detail until there is a high level of finality (like linebacker Brandon Huppert’s season-ending knee surgery from the USC game), downplayed the weird chain of events to close out practice.
“We’ll be OK,” the first-year coach assured. “The guys are just sore.”
In other developments:
• Sarkisian did say a pair of true freshmen – defensive end Talia Crichton and cornerback Desmond Trufant – are now starters on the defense. Both have practiced almost exclusively with the No. 1 unit the past two days.
“That’s the way we are approaching it right now. It doesn’t mean they are playing every snap, but they have kind of assumed the role,” Sarkisian said. “They are comfortable out there playing. I thought they played really well last week and had a good week of work so far.”
• Defensive end/tackle Everrette Thompson spoke about the frustration of the lingering right ankle injury. He said in April, a fracture inside the bone was detected, and he had surgery performed. Discomfort lingered all throughout fall camp and the start of the regular season – enough that coaches were contemplating redshirting him.
As mentioned earlier this week, UW athletic trainers started taping his ankle differently, and in a manner that alleviated the pressure off where the screw had been implemented during last spring’s surgery.
” It’s made a lot of difference,” Thompson said. “They’ve taped more inside (my foot), and lifts up the ankle a little more. Feels better.”
• Again, the practice contributions of defensive linemen De’Shon Matthews (bruised knee) and Darrion Jones (knee, ankle) have been spotty, at best.
Sarkisian on Jones, who was limited against USC: “He’s not 100 percent yet, so it showed the way he played last game. You could see he was ginger and not flying around playing fast football.
Sarkisian on Matthews: “We’d love to have him back out there.”
• Last week, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said the staff was trying to find ways to expand tight end Dorson Boyce’s role in the offense.
On at least a snap Saturday, Boyce – the junior college transfer from Allan Hancock College and No. 3 tight end – was used as an H-back, lining up in the backfield.
“We are trying to find him a role. He’s a good kid. He’s willing he put in his time. He’s tough mentally. He’s tough physically,” Sarkisian said. “(We’re) just trying to find him a role so he can be part of the game, especially when you go on the road, you only have your 64 guys. The last thing you want is to bring too many guys who aren’t doing anything.”
• Part of the team’s preparation for the trip to Stanford – and the Cardinal’s trepid fan base – the Huskies are not practicing to any music this week.
The reason? Sarkisian wants players to adjust to the “quietness” of the new Stanford Stadium.
“It’s a different setting when you go to Stanford. It’s not one that’s a raucous crowd,” the coach said. “They do get loud but it’s not a setting that is constant. When we play in Husky Stadium, it’s constant noise and you’ve got to get used to it, and there will be venues on the road that are that way as well. This one is not that way, and you need to get your mind right to get used to the quietness of it, and then the roar of it.”
• A few of center Ryan Tolar’s snaps to Locker in shotgun, well, never got to Locker on Saturday. The low ones (Sarkisian said they were “bowling for dollars” snaps) bounced on the ground, and had to be picked up by the quarterback.
“When it gets hot, and you get sweaty … the ball has a tendency to slip through your hands,” Sarkisian said. “So we’ve just got to make sure his hands are dry, and possibly use a towel and try some different things to negate that happening again.”
• Travel-itinerary alert – the Huskies will depart from campus at 1:15 p.m. Friday, and board their charter airplane from Sea-Tac Airport at 2 p.m.
Walk-through at Stanford Stadium is at 5 p.m., and should not last more than an hour.
The team’s return flight is scheduled to leave San Francisco at 11 p.m. Saturday.