By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
SEATTLE — It was part choice and part necessity for Steve Sarkisian.
The Husky head coach had his team scrimmage for all of Tuesday afternoon’s sun-soaked practice. The majority of the work featured the second- and third-string teams.
Sarkisian wanted to play his younger players and injuries forced him to rest his veterans.
“We held a couple guys out and limited some guys today,” Sarkisian said. “This was a bit more about the younger guys and how they’d respond to that setting, just gathering information. Some guys that we had good information on were either held out or limited so they’ll get back going again.”
It was evident with the first-team offense. With receiver James Johnson limited by a foot sprain, true freshmen Kendyl Taylor and Jaydon Mickens saw first-team repetitions along with their normal reps on the second-team unit.
Taylor caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Keith Price early in the scrimmage, while Mickens caught a 24-yard TD pass from Derrick Brown with the second-team.
“They are explosive guys,” Sarkisian said. “They are different from what we’ve had in our program the first 3 years with their acceleration out of their cuts, their route running, their high football IQs. They give us an explosive dimension to our offense that we haven’t had, they can create big plays.”
Of course, there were times where Mickens and Taylor lined up wrong and had to be reminded of motion calls and checks.
“They are going to have a handful of plays they want back from today as well,” Sarkisian said. “But that’s all part of putting them in this situation and making a play.”
The first-team defense featured redshirt freshman Travis Feeney at the starting outside linebacker spot. Feeney was moved to the position on Monday.
“Travis was around the ball again,” Sarkisian said. “This is two days in a row now where I don’t know how much he was right. I’ll have to look at the film to see exactly where he was right and where he was wrong. But what I do know is that he’s around the ball and he gets to the ball.”
Really, the scrimmage was a way to test the younger players to see how they would react to their first live situation. The coaches called in plays from the sideline and tried to simulate game situations more than they have all camp.
” This is the first time we let them go out on the field and have to play without a coach in their ear telling them what to do without being able to look at a script to see what might be coming,” Sarkisian said. “They had to go play and get a call and line up and communicate and execute. I think there were some guys that we thought were maybe further along that struggled at that a bit today so we need to keep pushing them in those types of settings so they can feel more comfortable doing it.”
It certainly affected the overall tempo. Simple tasks like getting out of the huddle and getting lined up quickly, substitutions on both sides of the ball and adjusting personnel groups were also sluggish at times.
“Those are fixable things,” Sarkisian said. “I didn’t see something glaring like, ‘Jeez, we’re playing the wrong guy at the wrong spot’ and things of that nature. It’s about being confident, it’s about doing what you’ve been prepared to do throughout camp and so, we got to go look at this thing and point out those errors.”
The No. 1 defense had the best day. The unit was never scored upon. And three occasions it went up against Price and the No. 1 offense, they allowed just three first downs total.
But Price did throw a pair of touchdowns against the No. 2 defense. After the pass to Taylor, he hit tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a deep pass. Seferian-Jenkins made a leaping catch over cornerback Darien Washington and fell backward into the end zone for a 47-yard score.
The No. 2 offense rotated series between redshirt freshman quarterback Brown and true freshmen Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist, who are all vying for the back-up job to Price. Besides the touchdown pass to Mickens, Brown also hit tight end Josh Perkins on a short 8-yard pass during the overtime period. Miles connected with Marvin Hall on a 45-yard completion that set-up a 9-yard touchdown pass on a rollout to tight end Evan Hudson.
Special teams coach Johnny Nansen confirmed that junior college transfer Travis Coons has won the place-kicking job, and true freshman Korey Durkee out of Gig Harbor has claimed the punting job. … Safeties Shaq Thompson and Justin Glenn, who played at Kamiak High School, both missed practice for the second straight day with concussions. … Besides Johnson, linebacker Princeton Fuiamaono, cornerbacks Tre Watson and Marcus Peters dressed but did not participate in the scrimmage.