Again, coach Steve Sarkisian used spring drills to break down the game into work on specific situations. Almost every team session this spring has been geared to specific situations within the game; down and distance, place on the field, time on the clock, against blitzes and various formations.
The philosophy has been Sarkisian’s standard approach, but it’s being stressed more than ever this spring.
“We try to never go out and run plays just for the sake of running plays,” Sarkisian said. “There always should be a purpose. We’ve always done this, but I think our emphasis is much more this year than before and our kids are really responding to it. In turn, I think we’re performing better in those situations.”
Thursday, Sarkisian placed emphasis on Red Zone offense and defense, and had the offense stress double-tight end and power formation plays.
“I just think we’re mature enough to handle it,” Sarkisian said. “It’s not just about running our offense and defense and special teams, it’s about understanding why we’re running them and in what situations we like specific things so that we can raise our football IQ. We can become a smarter football team and have better awareness when we’re on the field and things are coming at us. I think we’ll reap the benefits of this come fall.”
–Sarkisian said he thought both young quarterbacks, Keith Price and Nick Montana, “did some nice things” particularly in the Red Zone situations. However, the defense had several nice plays against the pass, including an interception and return by linebacker John Timu of a Price pass.
–Sarkisian said the move of Saturday’s scrimmage to Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center (11 a.m.) was to give the players a little boost. “(Spring practice) gets a little monotonous in a sense … sometimes a change of venue just feels different.”
There’s more of a long-range motivation, though. The renovation of Husky Stadium will start at the end of the upcoming season. While the team probably will practice most of the time next spring in the Dempsey Indoor facility, a spring game would be impossible in those confines.
“We’re going to look at it this Saturday … what would the spring game next year look like at Memorial Stadium?” Sarkisian said. “That’s part of the reason we’re going over there as well.”
The initial plan was to have a scrimmage dominate the Saturday workout, but with injuries leaving the Huskies thin on both lines, they might have to back off on the length of the scrimmage and do more 7-on-7 work, Sarkisian said.
Tackle Ben Riva missed Thursday’s workout with what Sarkisian said was a “sore and swollen foot.” Sarkisian said he didn’t think it was serious.
Cornerback Quinton Richardson also was sidelined Thursday with a “mild concussion,” Sarkisian said.
Freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins returned to practice after missing Tuesday’s practice with the flu. He looked healthy enough to pull in a touchdown pass in Red Zone work.
–One player looking strong while easing back from a knee injury is redshirt freshman running back Deontae Cooper. Cooper impressed last spring as an early-admit, but was lost for the season with a fall-camp ligament injury. He’s not doing full-contact yet, but Sarkisian likes what he sees.
“I see the suddenness, the cutting on both legs,” Sarkisian said. “He’s catching the ball really well. The one thing we don’t get to see is the physicality; I’m not concerned about that.”
Another player who is getting more looks is fullback Jonathan Amosa, a converted linebacker who is stepping in for Zach Fogerson (concussion). Amosa blocks with the force of a linebacker plugging a gap, which led Sarkisian to say that he plays with “a heavy head.”
“I’ve been extremely impressed. He’s just improved at a very good rate,” Sarkisian said.