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Sarkisian pleased with UW’s diversified offense

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By Scott M. Johnson
Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Just 11 months ago, the University of Washington offense was so devoid of weapons that it often looked like a rubber band at a gang fight.
This year? It’s been a much different story for the Huskies.
Not only is quarterback Jake Locker back from a thumb injury that cost him most of 2008, but he’s also surrounded by plenty of capable playmakers.
The latest example has been backup running back Johri Fogerson, who played safety last season and has lined up at tailback, H-back and wide receiver this year. The former O’Dea High School star gained 51 yards on his first play in the Sept. 5 opener, and he scored two touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Idaho.
“What Johri Fogerson has brought us has been so unexpected,” UW head coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “… The first day of training camp, we moved him to running back, and the guy is a playmaker for us.”
The Huskies also have gotten big contributions from starting tailback Chris Polk, who missed most of 2008 with a shoulder injury, and wide receiver James Johnson, a true freshman from San Diego.
In addition, UW has found a pair of valuable red-zone targets in tight ends Kavario Middleton and Chris Izbicki, two high-profile recruits who were non-factors by the end of the 2008 season. Both tight ends already have caught a touchdown pass this season.
“I like ... that we are a diverse offense,” Sarkisian said, “and a lot of guys are making plays for us.”
The Huskies’ most important weapon continues to be Locker. The junior from Ferndale is leading the Pac-10 in passing yards per game (287.0) and is tied for the conference lead in touchdown passes (five).
Locker, a big-time recruit from the Class of 2006 who counted USC among his potential suitors, has been opening eyes with his performances this season.
“I’ve said this before: I think Jake is one of the best players I’ve ever seen in this conference, in all the years we’ve been here,” said USC coach Pete Carroll, who has been with the Trojans since 2001. “He’s the most extraordinary athlete at the position we’ve seen, and I saw that as a freshman.”
Batts dismissed from team
Due to what Sarkisian called a “violation of team rules,” junior defensive back David Batts has been kicked off the team.
Batts, a junior-college transfer from the Los Angeles area, had yet to play in a game for the Huskies. He was in uniform for the Sept. 5 opener but did not play, and on Saturday afternoon Batts watched from the sidelines while wearing a jersey without pads.
Batts was a late signee who was expected to add immediate depth to the safety position, but the coaches moved him to cornerback last week.
Batts had been hand-selected to wear the No. 25 jersey, which had become noteworthy at UW because it was the same number worn by ex-Husky Curtis Williams before he was paralyzed in an on-field collision that eventually led to his 2002 death.
Glenn the man
Sarkisian reiterated that redshirt freshman Justin Glenn will continue to start at free safety.
Glenn, a converted cornerback who played at Kamiak High School, made his debut as a safety in Saturday’s win over Idaho.
“It was his first game, so there were some natural mistakes,” Sarkisian said, “but he got better as the game went on.”
Glenn replaced Greg Walker, who missed two key tackles in the Sept. 5 opener.
Walker is listed as Glenn’s backup at free safety on the official depth chart. It’s just as likely that, should Glenn come out of a game, strong safety Nate Williams would move to free safety while Victor Aiyewa moved into the lineup.
Locker pleads the Fifth
Given a chance to promise he’ll be back in 2010, Locker fell a bit short of totally committed Monday.
When a reporter from the Orange County (Calif.) Register asked Locker whether he planned to play for the Los Angeles Angels anytime soon, the UW quarterback didn’t quite vow to lead the Huskies as a senior.
“It’s football season right now, and that’s what I’m focused on,” Locker said. “I’ve said it from the time camp has begun: My focus is to play football right now, and we will deal with everything else after.”
Short yardage
Defensive linemen Darrion Jones (bruised knee/ankle) and De’Shon Matthews (bruised knee) sat out Monday’s practice and are being monitored on a day-to-day basis. ... Starting left guard Gregory Christine was limited in Monday’s practice, but Sarkisian said he was just being given a routine rest day. Redshirt freshman Mykenna Ikehara saw most of the snaps at left guard, while left tackle Ben Ossai moved inside for a period of time to let Drew Schaefer get some snaps with the No. 1 offense. ... Safety Jason Wells (Achilles) and linebacker Matt Houston (biceps) returned to practice Monday.
Story tags » FootballCollege FootballHuskies Football

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