The Huskies took the field today for the first time since spring practice. Sometimes I think these days are bigger for fans than they are for players because the players have been working out all Summer. In fact, the individual Huskies have probably taken the field many times since spring. But, today they took the field all together, coaches included, which tells us fans that the games will begin sooner rather than later.
These days seem bigger for fans than for the players but then I think back to my sports playing days. I think of the training I put in during the off-season (granted, it wasn’t as much as these players). I remember walking from the snow into a 50 degree hop-factory-turned-batting-cage to hit a little bit and throw a bullpen. Those days were done out of necessity. I needed to stay in shape and I needed my skills sharpened. But, the first day of practice was always significant. The coaches were actually there and the team was finally working all together to communal goal. That goal was to win. Thinking back on those days make me realize that the players are probably a little more jazzed for their first practice than I am. As much as fans love settling into a stadium with 70,000 other people for a game, the players still love it more. If they don’t, there’s a problem.
The opening press conference was today at noon and there were a few noteworthy things addressed:
- Two incoming freshmen have not yet been cleared to play – TB Kyle Lewis and WR Marvin Hall. They are both being held up by the NCAA Clearinghouse. These things always happen and it’s anyone’s guess when they will be cleared. I don’t see the Kyle Lewis one being a big deal. I expect him to redshirt, although with the lack of running back depth you never know. Marvin Hall may be in a different boat. The receiver depth is very good but Hall is known for his speed and if you asked me yesterday I would have guessed that he’d be a returner at some point this year. Every day of camp that they miss will inch them closer to a redshirt year so it’s something to keep an eye on.
- The other player who is not yet able to get on the practice field is JC transfer Antavius Sims. Sims has to finish his classwork and then hope he gets in. You never know if JC players will get in at UW. Sark seemed confident, but you never know. Sims is another speedster who will play cornerback. He also played quarterback at Ventura Community College.
- While Price is the starter heading into Fall Camp, Sark said Montana will still get about a third of the reps with the first team. The competition is still open a little bit, but I wouldn’t expect a change.
- LB Scott Lawyer was set to grayshirt this year, due to an off-season surgery, but he is now with the team. He recovered from the surgery quickly and now will compete through camp.
- This is was known before the press conference, but Adam Long will be out this year with his ACL injury. Deontae Cooper is in the same boat for the second year in a row. Zach Fogerson was forced to retire due to injury. Semisi Tokolahi, Sione Potoa’e, Taz Stevenson, and Justin Glenn will be limited at the start of camp but should be fully healthy soon.
The team then practiced this afternoon. The first couple of practices in camp aren’t much to write home about. The guys aren’t in full pads yet and everyone’s a bit nervous and/or rusty. Here’s just a few notes:
- The team was running 3’s. Which basically means they had 3 teams worth of players. Sark said this was the first time he’s been able to this while coaching here. Depth is a good thing and our coaching staff is finally getting it. This program is being built right.
- Kasen Williams was impressive, which was what everyone was expecting. Condotta had a few quotes from players on him.
- The starting DL was Jamora and Crichton at the ends with Thompson and Ta’amu inside. With Potoa’e and Tokolahi banged up, expect to see Thompson switching back and forth.
- The starting linebackers were Gilliland, Fuimaono, and Dennison. If I had to guess, these are the three I’d expect to see start the first game.