With injured starter Chris Polk and freshman reserve Jesse Callier watching from the sideline, Cooper dazzled about 1,000 fans who watched Saturday's scrimmage. He darted, dashed and dodged defenders for 114 yards on 12 carries, including a pair of touchdowns covering 52 and 29 yards.
The wind that swirled inside Husky Stadium made it nearly impossible to throw the football, providing less than ideal conditions for Jake Locker and Washington’s quarterbacks.
It certainly wasn’t an issue for running back Deontae Cooper.
On an overcast and blustery morning, the 6-foot, 191-pound freshman from Perris, Calif., took several strides in securing the backup spot at his position.
With injured starter Chris Polk and freshman reserve Jesse Callier watching from the sideline, Cooper dazzled about 1,000 fans who watched Saturday’s scrimmage.
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He darted, dashed and dodged defenders for 114 yards on 12 carries, including a pair of touchdowns covering 52 and 29 yards.
Coach Steve Sarkisian appreciated the big plays, but was equally enthralled by Cooper’s ability to perform the basic tasks, such as plowing over defenders for 4 yards on a fourth-and-one play.
“I think his game continues to grow, one in short-yardage situations in running the ball,” Sarkisian said. “His pass protection keeps getting better and better. That’s what’s exciting for us as a staff.
“His overall game continues to improve, and he’s not just a one-dimensional guy. Sometimes some of those things can go unnoticed. It’s the overall package that he’s bringing that makes it really, really exciting for us.”
Cooper started the scrimmage slowly.
Working with the offensive reserves, he was stonewalled for 3 yards on his first two carries before ripping through the middle of the No. 2 defense for a 29-yard score on the second drive of the scrimmage.
On the next possession, Locker tossed a pair of passes to receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar for 18 yards against the defensive starters.
Facing third-and-three at his 48, Cooper took a handoff in the backfield, cut to his left through a gaping hole and ran 52 yards untouched into the end zone.
“The terminology (for) running backs is speed through the hole, not to the hole,” running-backs coach Joel Thomas said. “Well, he was through that hole quicker than anyone could get on his heels, and he outran the secondary.”
Cooper was the big star, but Locker wasn’t half bad either.
He completed 11 of 22 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. More than half of his passes went to Kearse, who finished with six catches for 103 yards, including a 28-yard reception that capped the day for the No. 1 offense.
Kicker Nick Folk provided the only other score, converting a 45-yard field goal.
Washington’s defensive starters surrendered just 17 points and applied constant pressure on Locker. The No. 2 defense had three sacks and held the offense in check with the exception of Cooper’s first touchdown.
• There were no significant injuries during the 78-play scrimmage. S Nate Fellner sat out with a knee injury, and DT Alameda Ta’amu did not practice due to academic reasons.
• The Huskies return to practice Tuesday. The spring game is 6:30 p.m. Friday.