The Huskies defense didn't allow a rush of longer than 11 yards and had five QB sacks.
It was the first time any of the Washington Huskies had put on a uniform and played in front of a crowd since December, when the nightmare that was 2008 finally crawled to an end in Berkeley.
So as the team conducted its first major scrimmage of the spring Saturday in front of an estimated 1,800 at Husky Stadium, the new coaching staff was as interested in the process as the result.
“They want to be good,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “Last year was hard on these kids, man. That’s tough on an 18- to 22-year-old to have all that bad stuff happen, with all the negative stuff around them. We’ve got to get their heads up. So it’s important that we come out here and be positive with them and make some nice plays on both sides of the ball.”
Said head coach Steve Sarkisian: “We weren’t keeping score. We were just playing football. Just letting our guys play.”
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For those who did keep a tally, however, there were four touchdowns, three by the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense as it finally came alive late. Jake Locker threw a 10-yard pass to Jermaine Kearse for one touchdown and freshman running back Demitrius Bronson continued his impressive play by scoring twice from 1 yard out.
The special teams also got in the act as Jordan Polk scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and Erik Folk kicked field goals from 46, 35 and 47 yards, a rebound from some spottier performances earlier this spring.
If there was one area that seemed to stand out most, however, it might have been the starting defensive line of ends Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Darrion Jones and tackles Alameda Ta’amu and Cameron Elisara. When last seen in action, the UW defense allowed 431 rushing yards in the 48-7 loss at Cal that capped the 0-12 2008 season.
But Saturday the Huskies never allowed a rush of longer than 11 yards and had five QB sacks. UW’s running backs had 88 yards on 32 carries.
“Quite honestly, you watch on film and I really thought that this defensive group, a lot of them, they played hard last year,” Holt said. “It was just something would happen here, something would happen there. And they didn’t tackle very well at times, so we really addressed that. That’s what I’m most happy about today and the last couple of days is we are starting to understand the fun of tackling.”
Locker was unofficially 10 of 18 for 142 yards and the TD to Kearse, which came on the last play of the first half and was the first TD of the game.
It was the first extended gamelike action for Locker since he broke his thumb last September against Stanford and he admitted that “you’ve got to get back into it and get used to it. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but these things will help make that transition a little easier.”
The 215-pound Bronson had 28 yards on 13 carries and, as the team’s biggest back, seems to be carving out a role as a short-yardage runner at the least, though possibly a lot more than that. He scored once on a fourth-and-goal, and another after a short drive set up by an interception.
“He just continues to impress,” said Sarkisian of the Kentwood High grad who signed in February 2008 but sat out last fall for academic reasons. “The pass protection is an area he needs to continue to work on, but he can run the football, that’s for sure.”
• RB Curtis Shaw took a helmet to the knee early and sat out the rest of the way but said he should be back when the team returns to practice Monday.
• Skyline High QB Jake Heaps attended the scrimmage and talked with Sarkisian afterward. He is still undecided on a college.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com