UW stars shine in scrimmage
Unless, that is, teammate Chris Polk takes it from him.
Locker and Polk needed just a few snaps during Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage to remind the fans of just how potent they can be. On just two series -- a span of just eight plays -- Locker led the Huskies on touchdown drives that covered 153 total yards.
"It went really well," said Locker, who completed three of four passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. "I thought we were executing really well. We'll have to watch the film and see how well we actually did, but the results we got were the ones we were looking for."
Polk, a sophomore running back, got just three carries, but he maximized them to the tune of 44 yards and a touchdown. It marked Polk's first scrimmage action of the offseason after he sat out spring practices following shoulder surgery.
"He didn't look much different," Locker said, referring to Polk's 1,000-yard season as a freshman last fall. "I was pretty happy with how he did."
All in all, UW's first units carried the day -- on both sides of the football. In two series of work as a defense, the starters allowed 21 total yards and just one first down.
"We did really well," senior safety Nate Williams said. "We didn't give up a touchdown as a unit."
For Williams, the session was even more special because it was an opportunity to get back on the field. He's been resting minor injuries for much of camp, so the chance to practice as a full defensive unit was an important one for the Huskies.
"I know that those guys, most likely, I'll be with come Sept. 4," he said, referring to the season opener at BYU. "It was nice to get a feel for how they like to play, and how they like to move, and who likes to talk and who isn't the most talkative guy out there. This is probably the closest that we'll get to a mock game, so it was nice to be out there as a group today."
While the scrimmage was by no means a perfect session, head coach Steve Sarkisian could hang his hat on the performances of the starting units as the Huskies prepare for a season opener that is just 18 days away.
"That made me feel the best," Sarkisian said of the way his starters performed on both sides of the ball. "That, and staying healthy. If you ask any NFL coach, he doesn't want to see any of his starters get hurt; he wants to see them play efficient football. And I thought, both sides of the ball, our ones (starters) were extremely efficient today."
Sarkisian's starting offense was particularly effective Tuesday. After a rather pedestrian 3-yard pass completion on the first play, the Huskies broke off big play after big play. Polk's first carry went for 20 yards on a draw, then Locker hit a diving Devin Aguilar in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown to cap off the opening drive.
UW's starting offense started its next possession at the 6-yard line and marched all the way down the field for another score. Locker's 59-yard pass completion to Jermaine Kearse, who broke a tackle and ran the final 30 yards, set up Polk's 16-yard touchdown run on what would be the No. 1 offense's final snap of the day.
"There's so much continuity," Sarkisian said of the UW offense. "We're able to make adjustments on the fly. They've played so much together. The quarterback and wideouts are really working well together, the offensive line is working well together. So it's not about pounding them and giving them so many offensive looks. It's about making sure we're efficient and playing fast football."
The backup units had their positive plays, but there were also some shaky moments. The most obvious came about midway through the scrimmage, when an offense made up of reserves had two consecutive penalties to open a drive, then lost yardage on three successive snaps.
But freshman quarterback Nick Montana, who was behind center on that drive and also had a fumbled snap later in the day, did make some plays along the way. Both he and fellow backup Keith Price engineered touchdown drives in the first half, both of which culminated in scoring passes.
But after that, the defenses kept UW out of the end zone for six consecutive possessions. Freshman fullback Zach Fogerson broke the drought with a 3-yard scoring run at the end of Price's final drive behind center.
Price was 11-for-17 for 130 yards and a 70-yard, catch-and-run touchdown to Cody Bruns. Montana, who is battling Price for the right to be Locker's primary backup this season, completed 14 of 20 passes for 123 yards and an 8-yard touchdown to fellow freshman DiAndre Campbell.
Wide receiver Kevin Smith (five receptions) was among the other freshman stars of the day. Linebacker Cooper Pelluer made his presence known on defense, tight end Michael Hartvigson made a diving catch but was ruled out of bounds, and running back Jesse Callier had a team-high 66 rushing yards on five carries.
But the biggest plays were made by UW's biggest stars -- no matter how short their stint.
And when it comes to Husky stars, no one is bigger than Locker these days.
"No. 10 was great today," Sarkisian said early Tuesday evening. "For two series, he was on point all the way through."
Senior punter Will Mahan probably didn't have to worry about losing his role on the team, but Tuesday's scrimmage only underscored his ability. His first punt was a booming kick, while teammate Kiel Rasp saw his first punt get blocked. Wide receiver James Johnson and safeties Justin Glenn and Greg Walker sat out the session due to ankle injuries. Will Shamburger got the start at free safety, but Nate Fellner worked with the No. 1 defense on its second series. The Huskies will hold another scrimmage on Saturday.
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