It is hard to believe how quickly summer is drifting away from us. Out here in the Midwest, we had very below average weather in June and July. August, on the other hand, has rewarded us with the nice, hot, and balmy days we look forward to all year. As far as the football calendar goes, the Huskies have finished week one of practice and face another week of intense practice to sort things out before the staff coaching starts meaningful game-planning for LSU.
The big story of the weekend had Jake Locker signing with the Los Angeles Angels, meaning he will have a bit extra spending money for his final two years of college. While no details have been released, figure his signing bonus is likely in the $150,000-range. Locker's focus remains on playing quarterback at UW for two more years, parlaying that into an NFL contract upon graduation.
A side-benefit of the Jake's signing is it provides the coaches with another scholarship to award in 2010, as the Angels will be paying for Jake's tuition from now on. Interesting how issues develop in the scholarship arena; last spring it was difficult to foresee UW signing more than 12 players in 2010, while now it appears there will be room to take a full class of 25. While good news, it leaves the roster on the short side in 2009. In particular, examining the offensive line, there are only twelve scholarship players on the roster, plus Nick Scott, a walk-on who earned a scholarship last year. Ideally, a team wants 15-18 offensive lineman on its roster, so Washington has some serious rebuilding to do.
Washington currently has commitments from Ben Riva and Colin Porter for the 2010 class, leaving availability for at least four more commits in coming months. Erik Kohler is potentially number three, with the Huskies holding a slim lead for his services, though UCLA is making a serious push at him as well. One seldom sees a true freshman offensive lineman step into the lineup and have success; however, If you are Erik Kohler and choosing between UW and UCLA, the lure of starting as a true frosh may be hard to resist.
Sarkisian has stated repeatedly that in the future, his staff will likely not frequently recruit junior college athletes. Obviously, it is very challenging for JC transfers to gain admission into Washington and it isn't the effective means of building the team for the long term. However, if Washington can find several prospects this fall who qualify for winter admission and potentially start on the OL in 2010, they just may roll the dice again.
Wide receiver Anthony Boyles finally got himself noticed with a strong practice session on Saturday. Boyles who progressed well late in 2008 and followed that up with solid 2009 spring practice, had fallen to the third unit after being displaced by freshman phenom James Johnson. Johnson missed some weekend practice time with a minor injury; Boyles seized the opportunity and was named one of the offensive players of the day. Boyles has plenty of talent, but is taking longer to adjust to the new offensive scheme.
On defense, Victor Aiyewa had strong weekend, stepping in for Nate Williams who is nursing a groin pull. Aiyewa is a big time hitter who still has some work to do in picking up coverages. At this point the top three safeties seem to be Williams, Jason Wells, and Michael Batts. Batts has been very impressive thus far and has worked himself into the starting nickel back position. He has great size and instincts and by the end of the year may end up being one of the top safeties on the west coast. Wells rested his knee Saturday, something the coaches do for players returning from injuries. Wells is having a solid camp and projects to be a solid contributor this fall.
At running back, we haven't really seen anyone emerge to the front of the pack. All appear fairly equal at this point, though the full scrimmages should begin to sort out the pecking order in the next week or so.
The Huskies will have another double practice session today. The first practice will be at 8:45 AM, while the second is at 6:45 PM, and ought to be well attended.
Todd Miles of the News Tribune wrote an excellent piece on cut blocking, a technique the Huskies will utilize extensively in 2009.
Nobody questions the effectiveness of cut-blocking – chopping down defensive players below the waist. Some of the best offenses in the NFL or college football utilize it, knowing the backlash it creates when somebody gets injured.
It’s a scheme the Washington Huskies will use this season.