UW Notebook: More chances for Callier
Add kickoff returns to freshmans growing list of duties
He made a splash on the field when he was used sparingly as the primary backup to Chris Polk.
And when the Huskies featured a fly-sweep play that allowed Callier to make multiple big runs after lining up wide against USC on Saturday, it served as another way the freshman tailback could shine.
Now, upon getting word that freshman Kevin Smith will miss multiple weeks with a fractured thumb, the Huskies are ready to let Callier expand his repertoire again. Callier will fill in for Smith as UWs primary kickoff return man, beginning Saturday.
I love Jesse, head coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. I love Jesse in all aspects.
Through the first four games of his collegiate career, Callier is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, has caught five passes out of the backfield and has returned one kickoff for 16 yards.
Smith, a wide receiver from outside of Los Angeles, was averaging 20.5 yards per kickoff return before breaking his thumb in the 32-31 win over the Trojans on Saturday. Sarkisian said he would probably miss a couple weeks.
That was the only significant injury to come out of Saturdays game. Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara missed most of the game, and Mondays practice, because of a shoulder stinger, but Sarkisian said he would be OK. Quarterback Jake Locker came out of Saturdays game for one play after getting knocked woozy and losing his breath, but he returned to action and has shown no signs of lingering effects.
Price is right
Even after completing the most important pass of his college career, redshirt freshman Keith Price still has to carry a co- before his title.
Price and true freshman Nick Montana are still listed as co-No. 2 quarterbacks behind Locker, even though the question about who the primary backup would be was answered in Saturdays game.
Price came on in relief of Locker and completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Izbicki on his only official snap Saturday.
I love that kid, Sarkisian said of Price. Every time he goes in, he keeps doing good things in practice.
Sarkisian admitted that there were a few raised eyebrows among his assistant coaches when he called for a pass play on Prices first official snap.
I just didnt want to put him under center, Sarkisian said in explaining the reasoning for the call. He hadnt gotten a real snap yet, I wanted to put him in the (shot)gun, and felt like it was a good call for him. He made a good play; it was a nice throw.
Calling for a better replay
Even after game officials looked at an instant replay of one of the most important calls in Saturdays win over USC, Sarkisian still isnt buying their conclusion.
UWs coach said Monday that the play that saw Locker fumble the football out of bounds at the end of a long run should have resulted in the Huskies retaining possession. Officials ruled that Lockers fumble went into and out of the end zone, but Sarkisian said that he could clearly see from the opposite sideline that the ball crossed the plane of the sideline before it got to the end zone.
And then looking at the coaches copy of the film, its clear, he said Monday. Big turning point in the game, really. That puts us up 24-14 (if Locker had scored). In turn, they go down and score and we fall behind.
While Sarkisian challenged the call on the field, the television angle was inconclusive and therefore the original call was upheld.
Sun Devils a title contender?
Six days after USC coach Lane Kiffin was accusing his friend and former co-assistant coach of pulling a Lou Holtz, Sarkisian was at it again Monday.
The Huskies coach, who last week called the Trojans the most talented football team in our conference from top to bottom, said this weeks opponent was quite a handful. In fact, he made it sound like the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the Pac-10) were a national contender.
Theyre a scary football team, Sarkisian said. The quarterback is throwing it all over the field, the running backs are running, the defense is opportunistic. Theyre physical; they create turnovers.
They could easily be 2-0 in our conference. They could be undefeated on the year they (lost) in a tight one to Wisconsin as well.
ASU beat the Huskies on a last-minute hail-mary pass last season. But other than their games against UW, the Sun Devils are 9-18 since the beginning of the 2008 season.
Not playing not to lose
UWs bye week was spent working on fundamentals and, just as important, rebuilding the teams psyche after a bad loss to Nebraska. Sarkisian used a play without fear motto to help regain the confidence of a broken team.
And using the win over USC as evidence, the plan seems to have worked.
We werent worried about losing; we werent worried about making a mistake, Sarkisian said Monday. I just thought we played football. Thats the best mentality for us to be in right now.
Asked Monday whether the Huskies played with a worried mindset in losses to BYU and Nebraska earlier this season, Sarkisian said: Yeah, in all three of them. I felt we played that way (in the win over) Syracuse as well.
Sarkisian and USC coach Lane Kiffin shared only a few words after Saturdays game. But the good friends caught up in an hour-long phone conversation Sunday night, Sarkisian said. Now that that hurdles over, that we played each other, now we can really share with each other thoughts about each others teams and upcoming opponents, Sarkisian said Monday. After going two consecutive games without a dropped pass, the Huskies dropped four Saturday. Physical errors are physical errors, Sarkisian said without any audible concern in his voice. Thats going to happen sometimes. What I was pleased with that it didnt affect our psyche. The guys kept battling.
The Huskies, who lost primary punter Will Mahan to a season-ending knee injury last month, have added depth behind Kiel Rasp at the position.
Evan Steinruck, a walk-on from Lake Stevens, practiced with the Huskies on Monday afternoon. Steinruck played football, basketball and soccer at Lake Stevens High School and was a second-team all-Western Conference punter as a senior in the fall of 2006.
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.