Injuries at several key positions left the first units on both sides of the ball in flux as the Huskies took part in their first game-week practice of the regular season.
Cornerback, tight end, wide receiver and tailback were among the positions that were expected to be more clear at Saturdays practice, but a lack of able bodies kept the waters murky.
Redshirt freshman cornerback Justin Glenn, a Kamiak High School product, watched the session while wearing a brace on his left knee. Glenn entered camp as the first-team cornerback, but he was relegated to second-team duty most of last week while true freshman Desmond Trufant worked with the No. 1s. On Saturday, sophomore Vonzell McDonald Jr. ran with the first team while Trufant worked with the second unit.
At tailback, redshirt freshman Chris Polk continues to be the front-runner, but no clear-cut starter was announced. His chief competition, sophomore Johri Fogerson, sat out Saturdays practice while nursing a sore ankle.
Wide receiver James Johnson, who joins Trufant as one of two true freshmen battling for a starting job on this years team, also was sidelined by an ankle injury. Johnson is competing with returning players DAndre Goodwin, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar for a starting spot.
Tight end Kavario Middleton sat out practice because of a hamstring injury, and its unclear whether he is still the odds-on favorite to start. Chris Izbicki was with the first team Saturday, but junior college transfer Dorson Boyce also got plenty of work with that unit.
In all, 13 Huskies sat out Saturdays practice for health reasons, including five who are competing for starting jobs. Defensive end Darrion Jones (flu) did not practice but is likely to regain his starting job.
Head coach Steve Sarkisian said he expects all of his ailing players to be back for Saturdays game against 11th-ranked LSU.
An estimated 13 of the Huskies 22 starting jobs are expected to go to returning starters, a few of whom changed positions. That includes quarterback Jake Locker, who started only four games last season before getting sidelined by a thumb injury.
The other returning starters are Goodwin, left tackle Cody Habben, left guard Ben Ossai, center Ryan Tolar, defensive end Daniel Teo-Nesheim, defensive tackle Cameron Elisara, Jones, linebacker Mason Foster, linebacker Donald Butler, safety Nate Williams and cornerback Quinton Richardson.
The Huskies are likely to release an official depth chart on Monday morning. Sarkisian said after Saturdays practice that the coaches are still discussing some of the possible starting positions.
Tucker still sits
Freshman linebacker Tim Tucker continues to watch practice in street clothes while awaiting clearance from the NCAA.
Tucker practiced with the Huskies during the first week of camp but was one of three freshmen to be sidelined while the NCAA reviewed their academic status. Quarterback Keith Price and defensive end Talia Crichton have since been cleared and are back on the practice field.
The Huskies announced their team captains during a Friday night dinner for boosters. Junior quarterback Jake Locker, junior center Ryan Tolar, senior defensive end Daniel Teo-Nesheim and senior linebacker Donald Butler received the honors. The school announced that 4,500 tickets still remain for Saturdays opener, which begins at 7:30 p.m. The Huskies will take today off, then return to the practice field Monday for a typical game-week schedule. During the regular season, practices are only open to media, season-ticket holders and Tyee Club boosters.
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