UW Huskies Insider

Notes, quotes and observations from UW’s first spring practice

Post by Christian Caple on March 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm with No Comments »
March 4, 2014 2:10 pm
New Washington head football coach Chris Petersen, left, stands near redshirt quarterback Jeff Lindquist, right, as Lindquist passes on the first day of spring NCAA college football practice, Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
New Washington head football coach Chris Petersen, left, stands near redshirt quarterback Jeff Lindquist, right, as Lindquist passes on the first day of spring practice Tuesday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

With the first day of UW’s spring practices in the books, here are some notes and observations as the Chris Petersen era churns forward on Montlake.

— UW practiced for about two hours and 15 minutes inside the Dempsey Indoor facility, though most of the defense went outside for a portion of practice.

— Rap music still blares from speakers during the early and stretching portions of practice, though once the warmups were over, the speakers were turned off and replaced by the sound of coaches instructing and players practicing.

— With this being the first day of spring, players were in helmets, jerseys and shorts. No pads yet.

— The injury list looks about how Petersen said it would: WR Kasen Williams, WR Taelon Parson, RB Ryan McDaniel and OL Dexter Charles were in uniform but spent the day on the sidelines doing conditioning drills. The stationary bike was involved.

OL Micah Hatchie, S Kevin King, DE Cory Littleton and LB Scott Lawyer wore yellow, no-contact jerseys and were limited participants. DE Jarret Finau also spent some time on the bike. Aside from that, there didn’t appear to be any new injuries. WR Marvin Hall had his left ankle/foot looked at by trainers during practice, but he returned and seemed fine.

Williams seemed to be walking around fine. He’s no longer using the peg-leg, one-legged crutch contraption he was sporting toward the end of last season. The goal is for him to return to full speed by summer.

— With John Timu suspended for the first two weeks of spring practices, redshirt freshman Azeem Victor was at linebacker when the defense took the field for the first time as an 11-man group. Not sure if you want to call that the “first team” defense, since everything is so fluid in the spring, especially with a new coaching staff. I’m not sure you can really break down the “ones” or the “twos” quite yet.

Anyway, Victor was with Shaq Thompson and Travis Feeney at linebacker; Andrew Hudson, Evan Hudson, Danny Shelton (wearing No. 55) and Hau’oli Kikaha were together on the defensive line; Travell Dixon and Marcus Peters were at cornerback; and Trevor Walker and Brandon Beaver were at safety.

Again, that’s just the first group that took the field together. There was, and will be, plenty of liberal substitutions on both sides of the ball, so I’d caution against reading too much into why certain guys are in and certain guys are out. Plenty of time for all that to get settled.

Josh Shirley, Elijah Qualls and Marcus Farria were notable parts of the action on the defensive line during team sessions. Just about every healthy offensive and defensive player was involved in some way.

— The offensive line group that first took the field featured, from left to right: Jake Eldrenkamp, Colin Tanigawa, Mike Criste, James Atoe and Ben Riva (and keep in mind that two returning starters, Charles and Hatchie, are out at the moment).

Later on, we saw a group that featured, from left to right: Andrew Kirkland, Michael Kneip, Siosifa Tufunga, Shane Brostek and Ross Dolbec. Cory Fuavai, Dane Crane, Taylor Hindy and Coleman Shelton mixed in, too.

— One drill that drew a lot of attention from observers was a 1-on-1, tug-of-war battle between offensive and defensive players. They were fighting over control of a sort of disk with handles on each end — one offensive player with control of one side, a defensive player holding the other. Then they tugged it around until one of them let go. That person was the loser. In a best two-out-of-three competition, the defensive player won twice — cornerback Travell Dixon and defensive lineman Elijah Qualls claimed victories — and so the defense was named the winner.

(It was similar, in a lot of ways, to some of the off-the-wall competitions Mike Leach and his staff come up with at Washington State.)

“Competition, we’ll always have some sort of competition. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing checkers, tiddly-winks, tug-of-war,” Petersen said afterward. “We want guys to compete at all times. Have a little fun with it. We’ll always do something like that.”

— As far as the quarterbacks, Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams both looked how you might expect they would look on the first day of spring practice. There were a few bright spots, though there is obviously plenty for both guys to work on. Lindquist threw a pair of interceptions — one that Shaq Thompson stepped in front of and returned for what would have been a touchdown, and one that walk-on linebacker Devon Phillips (Wilson High School) snagged and ran back a decent distance — but also made a couple of nice throws in the 1-on-1 drill.

Lindquist is the only quarterback available to speak to reporters this spring.

Of the interceptions, he said: “It happens, I guess. I like to think the defense just made great plays, but I probably could have thrown better balls.”

When asked for his initial impression, Petersen said it’s “way too early to really evaluate” either quarterback.

“I thought they threw some good passes and threw some bad passes,” Petersen said. “But that’s why we’re out here working. We said from the start, we need a really good decision maker and an accurate thrower. And so I think you guys can see some of that. Some of it was really good, and some of it was … that’s why we practice.”

Jonathan Smith, the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, is very hands-on with his instruction. When Lindquist and Williams were going through individual drills, Smith walked through it with them and paid close attention to each detail. That’s something players said the new staff is emphasizing — small details and fundamentals.

“The general feeling I got was just a lot more focused on tiny, tiny, tiny details, instead of the big picture,” senior center Mike Criste said. “Just focused on us individually and not the whole big scheme.”

Smith said he plans to split reps 50-50 between Lindquist and Williams for now, and if one player rises above the other, the repetitions will reflect that.

— Deontae Cooper looks as healthy as he has since his third ACL tear. He got a few carries during team session, and looked like he was moving pretty well.

Christian Caple can be reached at christian.caple@thenewstribune.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

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