One of the more intriguing Washington Huskies football seasons in recent memory got underway Monday with the first practice of spring. Head coach Chris Petersen enters the second year of his tenure with an open competition for the starting quarterback job as well as an offensive line and defensive front-seven with just one returning starter (guard Dexter Charles and linebacker Travis Feeney).
Jobs are up for grabs. With that as an overtone, the Huskies ran onto the field at Husky Stadium bright and early at 8:15 a.m. with a large quantity of smiles. Here is a detailed overview of what took place Monday, with highlights, lowlights, notes and a few quotes:
WHAT: Day 1 of spring practice for the Washington Huskies. Positional drills, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 scrimmages with players in helmets and shorts.
WHO: Redshirt freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. The only incoming freshmen at camp were the previously enrolled QB Jake Browning and S Ezekiel Turner. Not at practice or not participating were: Deontae Cooper, Keishawn Bierria, Elijah Qualls, Trevor Walker, Kevin King, Jermaine Kelly and Naijiel Hale. Other than Cooper and Hale, the players were on the sideline watching practice. Petersen noted Cooper will be at practice soon and Hale will miss the first week, is questionable for second week due to an undisclosed reason. Also, Feeney, Brandon Beaver and Brandon Lewis wore yellow non-contact jerseys.
WHERE: Husky Stadium
WHEN: 8:15 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.
HIGHLIGHTS: The quarterbacks looked good. Yes, it’s just the first practice of spring and players weren’t even in full pads. That said, the trio of junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J Carta-Samuels and freshman Jake Browning all showed an understanding of the offense and looked sharp. A year ago, this was not the case. With just the now-departed Troy Williams and Lindquist sharing reps in what was a new system to everyone, the play was much more sporadic.
Lindquist and Carta-Samuels really stood out. Each displayed their strong arm and mobility in the 11-on-11 session. Lindquist threw a touchdown to Jaydon Mickens on a nice wheel route from about mid-field and then connected with Mickens for another score up the seam when the senior receiver slipped inside of S Budda Baker. Carta-Samuels connected on out routes, slants, posts and even showed touch with a 30-yard fade to tight end David Ajamu in tight coverage (so tight it drew a flag from an official over-seeing practice Monday).
Speaking of Ajamu, the 6-foot-5 sophomore tight end looked fantastic in the 2.5 hour practice. He was a popular target for all three quarterbacks and didn’t drop a single ball. He was thrown to a half-dozen times, catching a myriad of balls over the middle and in traffic.
Another player that stood out Monday was Baker. After a solid season in which the sophomore started every game as a true freshman, Baker came out and looked a little bigger and certainly more confident as a veteran guy. He was the lone defender to break up a pass intended for Ajamu while flying around all day likewise. Baker also came up with one of three turnovers for the defense, an interception off Browning.