Over 2000 fans turned out for what is scheduled to be the final full scrimmage of the year last night at Husky Stadium. Those that made it saw a team playing with lots of enthusiasm and a QB who had a good night who hopes it carries over to the season.
The big move of the night was changes in the pecking order at WR. James Johnson, Jordan Polk, and Devin Aguilar were the starters and the coaches said it was because they had been the most consistent at practice. Last years leading recievers DeAndre Goodwin and Jermaine Kearse saw plenty of action but it was with the second team. Learse ended up being the leading receiver despite the minor demotion. i say it is minor because all of these guys are going to get a lot of playing time no matter who the first three are out on the field to start a game.
Goodwin has been off to a slower start than the coaches like this fall while recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered last spring. The coaches are looking for him to take his game to where it was before he was injured last spring. Word is he has been playing a little tentative so far. Last nights pecking order serves as more of a mental reminder that players who shine in practice will see the most time this fall. Don't worry about Goddwin either. He will be there for opening night. competition for playing time will continue up to till gametime against LSU.
The star of the night on offense was TB Curtis Shaw who led the team in rushing. Shaw had four carries for 89 yards on the ground and a 45 yard reception proving the theory that speed kills. All the TB's looked good in limited action but it was Shaw that picked up the big gainers to pad his stats.
Jake Locker and Ronnie Fouch both had solid nights. Jake wasn't perfect but you can tell with two weeks left until the LSU game he is making steady progress. Once he can flash his wheels in a game you are going to see a player that has taken it up a notch. Fouch also is improving and remains a solid backup.
On defense the play of the interior defensive line continues to show improvement. Cameron Elisara continues to make plays and Tyrone Duncan continues to be a solid backup. The LB's were soild as usual cleaning up what was left for them. They are going to have a much better year in 2009 with the addition of Savannah and much better play up front.
DE Everette Thompson returned to full action last night and looked good making some key tackles. Thompson has been nursing an ankle injury from last spring and is just now rounding into playing shape.
Desmond Trufant wasn't in full pads but participated. It looks more and more like the coaches are going to use him this year as a key backup at corner. Like WR James Johnson he is a very quick study which means he can convert his potential into early playing time.
Quinton Richardson had a 95 yard kickoff return that he took back to the house. It was his second big return in the last two days and it looks like he will be one of the starting return men this season.
FB Paul Homer (hammie), C Ryan Tolar (toe), S Victor Aiyewa )concussion), CB Matt Mosley (knee), and OG Morgan Rosborough (shoulder), Jason Wells (achilles strain) all sat out but could have played if needed.
OT Skyler Fancher rolled his ankle pretty good last week so while he is a good bet to return by the LSU game the coaches think it will take up to a week to recover. Terence Thomas is still having problems with his foot and we don't have any word on how long he will be out.
Quotes from the Beat
Steve Sarkisian thinks the team is getting better every time they hit the field. Most observers who are watching the practices feel the same way too. Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times focuses quite a bit today on the new lineup at wide receiver and does his usually stellar job covering the practice.
"What I like about them is they keep getting better," Sarkisian told reporters after the scrimmage at Husky Stadium. "That’s what you hope for. You never want them to take a step back."
Jake Locker wasn't perfect but he had solid day to build on.
"I just thought Jake was really good all day. I thought the receivers and tight ends had to get kind of settled in and just playing ball, and I thought they did that in the second half."
The Willingham hangover effect where the team comes out flat to start the game is something the new coaching staff is trying to overcome. The on the field coaching has been intense and the coaches over the next two weeks will begin to take the team off the training wheels.
"I thought it went relatively well for a scrimmage atmosphere," Sarkisian said. "Offensively, we started slow. We really started to execute in the second half. The defense played physical early on.
"In general, it took the guys as a team awhile to get adjusted to being out there on their own, not out there with the coaches yelling and screaming. Fortunately, we’ve got two weeks to get used to that environment."
Todd Milles of the The New Tribune focuses on how Washington put together a couple of excellent drives with Locker in command and kept moving the chains.
"Yeah, I thought we put ourselves in some tough downs and distances, so we have some things we need to clean up offensively. But I thought that when we needed to make plays on third down and convert, we stepped up and made some plays and kept the chains moving," Locker said. "We didn't always do it but we had a few drives where we stepped up and made plays and gave ourselves a chance to score some points, so I thought we did a good job in that aspect."
Scott Johnston of the Everett Herald writes that the local recruits on the roster want to return Washington to the glory of the past.
"For all the local guys, we want to represent as the top school in our state," said junior safety Nate Williams, a graduate of Seattle's Kennedy High School. "We want to work harder to get us back to where this program was in the '90s. To be from this state just makes us play with more pride."