April 23, 2011

Huskies' offense finds rhythm at new venue

Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian decided he wanted a change in scenery for Saturday's practice so the Huskies moved to downtown Seattle and practiced in Memorial Stadium directly beneath the Space Needle.

The change in venue may have been fun for the whole team, but the offense took advantage and for the first time all spring looked competent for more than just an occasional drive late in practice.

"I thought there was a little bit more rhythm to the offense today," Sarkisian said.

While Nick Montana began the day with the No. 1 offense, it was Keith Price who was able to move the offense in his first turn under center.

Starting at his own 40-yard line, Price led the No. 2 offense on a nine-play, 60-yard scoring drive. On the drive, Price was three of five passing for 55 yards, including tossing a touchdown pass after eluding pressure and finding running back Johri Fogerson for the 15-yard score.

Fogerson continued to impress all day, finishing with 75 yards on just eight carries, including a 30-yard run when the offense was backed up to its own 4-yard line.

"Fogerson had a couple runs today too," Sarkisian said. "He popped one in a backed up situation for a long one and then had another long one down the other sideline. It's good to get Johri back going again as well."

The final numbers for Price tell the story of the day as he finished 15 of 22 for 185 yards and threw two touchdown passes; also leading the offense to a field goal on one other drive.

While Price was the more impressive of the quarterbacks, Montana had a solid second half of the scrimmage.

During the first two drives, Montana did not complete a pass and the offense gained just 21 yards and one first down, which was on a 5-yard Chris Polk run up the middle.
After the rocky start, Montana settled down and showed why he is in the mix for the starting job at quarterback. The rest of the day he was 13 of 18 for 90 yards and led three drives that led to points, two field goals and a touchdown.

The most impressive pass of the day came on a third and long play from the 16. Montana evaded pressure and found receiver Jermaine Kearse at the sideline for a first down on the 1-yard line. Polk finished off the drive by running the next play up the middle for the touchdown.

Though the final stats aren't impressive, Polk had a strong day running the football for the Huskies. He ended with 43 yards on nine carries and a touchdown, but he gained tough yards in the middle. On several occasions he pushed the pile or carried defenders to gain a few extra yards on each carry.

Washington has depth at receiver, which oftentimes had led to no one emerging as a top receiver of the group. Saturday, Jermaine Kearse showed why he is still the Huskies top threat in the passing game.

He led all receivers with six catches for 76 yards. On one drive late in the scrimmage, he caught three balls for 48 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass on a deep post route where he beat the entire secondary to the end zone.

While Kearse was the top receiver of the day, a couple others had nice performances as well. Kevin Smith caught four balls for 40 yards and Cody Bruns had four receptions for 45 yards.

"We got a lot of good receivers and a lot of good playmakers," Price said.

Tight ends Michael Hartvigson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were quiet for the most part Saturday, both finished with two catches; though one of Seferian-Jenkins' catches was very impressive as he went high in the air to make the catch and took a big hit as he came down, but was able to hold onto the ball for a 17-yard gain.

The offense scored points on half of its drives, which included three field goals and three touchdowns over a total of 12 offensive possessions.

Notable plays and information

Desmond Trufant returned a kickoff for a touchdown on the second play of the day. Then during the scrimmage, he had three pass deflections. He has been a playmaker all spring and after practice he talked about how he wants to become a player who shows up in all situations not just certain games.

The field goal unit has been problematic at times this spring, but Saturday the group was perfect. Erik Folk connected on three of three field goals from 49, 38, and 41 yards. The group also made all three of its PATs.

The defense had several sacks on the day, including a couple by defensive end Josh Shirley. He came around the end for one of his sacks, but on another, he was on the inside for the sack. It may be the first sack he has had that was not from a pure speed rush around the outside.

The No. 1 offensive line for the majority of the day was Erik Kohler, Colin Tanigawa, Drew Schaefer, Colin Porter and Skyler Fancher.

There were no turnovers during the entire scrimmage, nor were there any fumbles.
There also were no new injuries to note. Ben Riva, Quinton Richardson, and Zach Fogerson all sat out due to recent injuries.

Following practice fans were allowed on to the field to ask for autographs and meet the players. When asked about the atmosphere, Sarkisian said he really enjoyed it and said he expects the team to go to Memorial Stadium again next year during spring football.


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