Football practice report: Sarkisian holding on to the leash, Hudson impresses on defensive line

On the top of every script for the Washington football team's practice head coach Steve Sarkisian writes and highlights his most important word for the fall: faster.

He doesn't, nor does his coaching staff, know how fast his offense can go at its peak, but no matter what it is, he wants to go faster. One day after an angry Sarkisian ended practice suddenly, the Huskies were back in Husky Stadium Thursday afternoon doing exactly that.

The Huskies again traveled at warp speed Thursday at practice. At times, it looked sloppy with passes bouncing off the fingertips of receivers and others sailing way over their intended targets, but it was a far cry from the Wednesday night practice that ended in the head coach storming off the field after defensive tackle Danny Shelton accidentally rolled into the knee of quarterback Keith Price.

Sarkisian didn’t have an extensive talk with his team about the situation Wednesday, but he said he thought his “message was pretty clear.”

“We’re just playing so hard right now that we’re falling on the ground and when it comes to a point where it starts dealing with your quarterback, that’s not OK,” he said. “I love that this is what I have to do. I love that I have to try to hold on to the leash of these dogs and hold on to them, because these guys, when you let go of the leash, they’re going to run and they’re going to play hard, be physical, which is a good problem to have. They understand. We talk about it daily and I thought the guys came out today and probably [had] our best practice in terms of staying off the ground, and we were still playing fast and flying around with good energy.”

With tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins still injured, Price continues to lean heavily on Kasen Williams. Williams was Price’s favorite target during Tuesday’s scrimmage and caught two touchdowns from the quarterback Thursday.  In Seferian-Jenkins’ tight end place, Michael Hartvigston and Joshua Perkins are splitting reps. Sarkisian called Thursday’s practice “probably [Hartvigston’s] best day at camp in the passing game.”

The Evan Hudson experiment at defensive end is still looking like a successful one as the converted tight end continues to take snaps with the No. 1 offense at defensive end. He even batted down a pass from Price, much to the delight of his defensive teammates.

“Evan is doing awesome,” Sarkisian said. “He’s starting for us; he’s exactly what we were looking for. To Evan’s credit, he is getting better and better and better every practice since we’ve been going.”

Along with Hudson shuffling into the defensive line, freshman defensive end Joe Mathis continues to impress the coaching staff and got some reps with the first string Thursday. At the rush end position, Josh Shirley and Hau’oli Kikaha (who recently legally changed his last name from Jamora) split reps with the starters.


— Seferian-Jenkins was absent from practice and Sarkisian confirmed that the Sports Illustrated Preseason All-American underwent surgery in his fractured pinkie finger. There is still no timetable for his return.

— After being carted off the field Wednesday with what looked like a pretty severe injury, sophomore Cory Littleton dressed in shells with the rest of the team for practice Thursday. He did not participate in team drills, but Sarkisian said after practice it was nothing serious and if the Huskies were playing today, Littleton would have been able to participate.

— Cornerback Marcus Peters split time with Cleveland Wallace with the No. 1 defense. Peters banged knees with wide receiver DiAndre Campbell on Aug. 10 and hadn’t seen significant time on the field since today.

— In the field goal battle, senior Travis Coons was 3-for-4, connecting from 27, 33, and 36 yards while missing from 47. Freshman Cameron Van Winkle was just 2-for-4, with makes from 33 and 47 yards.

— Freshman John Ross was limited in practice just to get some rest, but Sarkisian discussed the speedy freshman’s excellent punt return from Tuesday scrimmage, saying the cut Ross made during the return was “reminiscent of an old No. 5 I used to coach,” referring to Reggie Bush.

— Another full pads scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, which is closed to the media.

Reach Sports Editor Thuc Nhi Nguyen at sports@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thucnhi21

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