The first spring practice of the year was held at Husky Stadium today on a windy, cold spring day. It was fun walking up to the stadium; the baseball team was starting a game, the softball team was practicing (I only hope Danielle Lawrie saw me and fell in love at first sight) and there were a couple hundred people watching practice. There was a good amount of energy in the air and the players seemed happy to be on the field. The team wasn’t in pads yet and won’t be until next week.
I remember coming to the first spring practice last year and being blown away by the amount of energy the coaches brought. Today was no different. On numerous occasions I watched coaches sprint 20 or 30 yards to a player to either tell them what they did wrong or to give them praise for a good play. I was also impressed by the amount of time the staff puts into one-on-one coaching. From Jake Locker to Clarence Trent, the coaches give a good amount of effort to get their point across to each player in one way or another.
I was watching the quarterbacks for a good share of the time today and it was about what I expected. Jake Locker looked good, Keith Price and Nick Montana had some good moments but also had some shaky moments. The wind gusts blowing off the lake often affected their deep passes. My first impression of Nick Montana is that he has a good arm but is very skinny. He threw some very good balls and will improve as he becomes more comfortable with the speed of practice. Keith Price is an amazing athlete and if he ever develops into a good passer he could become quite the threat at quarterback. Right now he reminds me of Dennis Dixon in his first few years at Oregon.
Alvin Logan was the starting strongside linebacker, as expected. He rushed off the edge many times and looked very quick doing it. The news of the day was Clarence Trent (UW basketball player) walking on to the football team as a defensive end. Nick Holt coached him up numerous times and although Trent looked lost at times, he seems to have some raw talent. For whatever it’s worth, he’s the tallest player on the defense and probably the team.
Greg Christine appears to be the backup center behind Drew Shaeffer. I thought this was interesting at first because he was a starting guard last year but the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Who else do the Huskies have to put there? Christine seems like the best option as a backup and it’s good to have him understand both spots.
A few more notes after the jump on players who had a good day.
It’s always hard to get a read on practices in which the players aren’t wearing pads but I’ll give you my opinion on the best and worst things of the day. I’ll start with the positives:
- Anthony Boyles. I’d seen him in practice as a receiver a few times but never as a cornerback. He really impressed me today. At receiver he always seemed to be thinking and didn’t have much confidence. Today he looked like he was just having fun and looked very loose on the field. He had two interceptions in passing drills today and had a couple of pass breakups. He was the loudest player on the field and was fun to watch. Another cornerback who had a good day was Vonzell McDowell. Watching those two celebrate after making stop after stop in drills was one of the highlights of the day.
- Deontae Cooper. It’s hard to get a read on running backs when the team practices without pads because the defense isn’t allowed to hit as hard but Cooper definitely seemed like the best running back on the field (Polk can’t participate in contact drills). The other three freshmen don’t quite look like college football players yet but Cooper looks the part. He has some really explosive speed in space. I will be anxious to see him when the team gets in pads.
- Locker to Kearse. This pass-catch combination looked exactly like they did at the end of last year, amazing. We will be hearing Locker to Kearse a lot this year I think.
- The linebackers. Foster, Dennison, and Logan all looked in the 7 on 7 passing drill. This was somewhat of a weakness for the Huskies last year so it was nice to be able to see those guys play some decent coverage.
- The tight ends. They each had a few drops each and were somewhat frustrating to watch. The coaches got after each of them a few times.
- Offensive Tackles. The offense was beaten off the end a quite a few times. To be fair, the defense did seem to be sending five guys quite often and Skyler Fancher is coming off surgery, but when our defensive ends are getting in the backfield it’s a little concerning to think of what other teams could do.
- Lots of drops. This is to be expected on the first day and a cold day.
- The veteran running backs. Fogerson had two fumbles (although one appeared to be Nick Montana’s fault) and Bronson had one. This was a problem last year with these two and it wasn’t great to see them fumbling the first day when they weren’t even getting tackled.
After practice I was standing with a group of reporters who were interviewing Jake. Unfortunately, I don’t get to bring a recording device to the practices like they do. I’m sure you can find the interview on KJR’s website or on Condotta’s blog. I thought the most interesting part of the interview was how Jake mentioned how much more comfortable he feels this year as opposed to last year. This is to be expected, but he mentioned this 3 or 4 times. He was clearly excited to be playing football and you can see his extra effort to be a senior leader today. He would go out of his way to tell guys they were doing a good job on both offense and defense. He’s impressive to watch.
Well that’ll do it for today. Thanks for reading!