Monday morning practice

Camp site on Lake Crescent

Ahhhhhh. Now, this is what I call great weather!

The sun shining, not a cloud in the sky and — the best part — not a hint of humidity! Thank you, Pacific Northwest.

I spent the weekend camping on Lake Crescent with Stacy and four friends. We kayaked on the lake, basked in the sun, played poker on a picnic table, cooked oysters on the grill, consumed lots of beer — and got a visit from the sheriff/ranger because our “fake hippie” (aka yuppies pretending to be “green”) site neighbors thought we were keeping them up at night and letting our dogs run amok. CLARIFICATION: We were in our tents passed out by 11 and 10 o’clock. Just because our site was closest to the boat-launch/dock and there were people partying down there, we caught the the blame. And Michelle Boline’s dogs were off-leash but for about 10 minutes. P.S.: The sheriff loved us, believed us, and laughed at the “fake hippies” with us.

Now . . . on to the football . . .

This morning Stacy and I rolled out of bed early to hit the 8:45 a.m. Huskies practice session so I could play “sports reporter.” (That’s only half true. Yes, I played “sports reporter,” but I was also there to interview Jake Locker for my thesis.)

The weekend lent itself to some bad news for coach Steve Sarkisian and the team when freshman running back Deontae Cooper tore his ACL in what the News-Tribune’s Todd Milles told me, “Looked like nothing.”

You only hope things like this turn out to be a blessing in disguise. There was quite the logjam at tailback and Cooper was shaping up to be a fierce one-two punch with starter Chris Polk (who was limited again Monday.) Maybe this injury just gives Jesse Callier, Johri Fogerson and Demetrius Bronson some more time, puts a year of separation between the returners and Cooper and simply builds a stronger future. Very tough to see, and good luck to Cooper in his rehab.

While the newspaper and online reporters will give you the nuts and bolts in their blogs and articles, I am afforded the freedom here to give you some opinions based on observations. Here are some of those:

Folk

1.) Erik Folk will go into the season highly-underrated and, if he stays healthy (which is really a caveat to all predictions), he will come out of 2010 an all-conference performer.

Sarkisian had his team doing a lot of special teams work early in practice. Folk went 3-for-3 in field-goal attempts in this session with a long of 43 yards. (In the two-minute drill at the end of practice, he hit a 39-yarder, but hit the left upright on another 39-yard attempt.)

But where Folk really impressed me was on kickoffs. On three kickoffs, Folk hit the end zone all three times. One went deep into the end zone, too — almost through it.

Folk is a veteran now, a junior who went 18-for-21 in his first full season as the No. 1 kicker in 2009. He performed in the clutch kicking the game-winner against USC with three seconds left, and a 37-yarder at Notre Dame to send the game into overtime. He was perfect (35 of 35) on point-after attempts and handled all the kickoff duties, as well.

So, he has the experience, the heritage (his brother Nick was an all-Pac-10 kicker at Arizona before playing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 and ’09), and the coaches’ confidence.

A steady kicker is a good, good thing and I expect Folk to be that for UW this season.

Montana

2.) Keith Price is ahead of Nick Montana in the fight to be Locker’s backup. And he should be. Price is a year into Sarkisian’s offense, even though Montana graduated from high school early to come to enroll at UW and participate in spring ball.

Montana throws a beautiful deep ball, but in his only 11-on-11, 2-minute drill series (Price had two), Montana underthrew an open receiver, overthrew an open receiver, and went 1-for-5. (To be fair, two of his incompletions were forced throws where he was trying to make something happen and his receivers weren’t completely open.) His lone completion, though, was a 10-yard touchdown strike. It was another low throw, but scooped up nicely by a receiver whose number I didn’t catch. So, give “The Son” credit for putting it in there when it counted most.

Price is not as polished with the deep throw, but he is more athletic than Montana, moves better outside the pocket, understands his options better. Like I said though, he should at this point.

I mentioned in a post last week that I thought Price was in an unenviable position between Locker and Montana. I suspect the coaches would like to never use a backup this season, but will travel both Price and Montana with the hopes of using only Price. This would make sense.

But I wonder if Montana is OK with this.

Why do I bring this up? Because, as a complete outsider, it concerns me a little bit. We are in an age where high school quarterbacks hire personal QB coaches and trainers, and they come in expecting to play right away. In many cases, they do, too. See Matt Barkley, Tate Forcier, Terrelle Pryor, Robert Griffin, maybe even Jake Heaps.

Montana knew he wouldn’t be the starter this year with Locker at the helm. But it’s a safe bet he figures he will beat out Price. But what happens if he doesn’t? Is he OK with redshirting?And what happens in ’11 if Price continues to have the upper hand?

Remember, Montana transferred from the storied De La Salle High program  to Oaks Christian before his junior year after he failed to beat out DLS’s Blake Wayne. (See ESPN.com’s story.) It’s just something to think about.

For better or worse, Sark is fired up. (Photo by Rod Mar for SI)

3.) Steve Sarkisian has a temper on him.

Of course, I’m used to the head coach only getting testy with reporters, but this guy Sark is a fireball.

Did anyone else catch Sark shove his running backs coach Joel Thomas on the sidelines during a televised game last season? I don’t remember which game it was, but I do remember seeing it and thinking, “Whoa, that seemed a little much.”

This morning, the young coach ripped off a string of expletives directed at players that would make — well — made me blush!

This isn’t so much a criticism as it is a revelation. This program needed a shot of adrenaline to the heart. Sark has been that shot. He runs around like a kid, hoots and hollers like a teenager, and apparently swears like a sailor.

I sure wouldn’t want to make him angry.

4.) Austin Seferian-Jenkins will announce where he will attend college at a press conference at 6:30 tonight at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club.  The talented tight end has narrowed his choices down to Washington and Texas.

He is supposed to join Chris Fetters and Kim Grinolds of Dawgman.com on 950 KJR-AM between 7-10 p.m., as well. Is that a good sign? I don’t know.

Scout.com lists Seferian-Jenkins as the No. 2 tight end in the country and a good-old fashioned recruiting showdown between Washington and, well, any out-of-conference school is a great thing to see.

I’ll be at Tuesday’s practice, so check back tomorrow evening for more. Thanks for reading.

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One response to “Monday morning practice

  1. Didn’t know that press conference was going to be at the yacht club – I’ll be changing my drive home to miss that hoopla. Thanks for the unfettered opinion, free from corporate edits and adjacent car ads.

    Looking forward to hearing more about Locker and your thesis. Welcome back to the NW!

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