A jolt of name-that-inquiry adrenaline ran through Steve Sarkisian on Friday, mostly in good nature, as he anticipated the start of the University of Washington’s football training camp.
The first-year coach surveyed a full room of reporters at the Founders Club for the Huskies’ precamp press conference before making his first bold declaration – he can read minds.
“I’m going to do my best to see if I can answer every question before you guys ask one,” said Sarkisian, his eyes wide and smile even broader. “Let’s see how we do.”
He didn’t, of course. But what wasn’t lost in his half-hour presentation was unbridled excitement for the weeks ahead. The UW’s 18-day, 24-practice camp starts Monday afternoon at Husky Stadium.
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“Just anxious for Monday to roll around and to get out there for the first time and watch our guys fly around and make plays,” Sarkisian said.
The last time this new coaching staff got to be on the field was April 25 for the annual spring game.
In those 15 practices, Sarkisian, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and defensive coordinator Nick Holt gave an introductory course on the playbooks and laid the groundwork for the team’s tireless, snap-to-whistle work rate.
Does the second phase happen now?
“It’s now time to excel at what we introduced,” Sarkisian said. “I thought Nick and Doug did a great job of introducing our schemes. I thought they did a nice job emphasizing the effort we need to play with, how physical we need to play.
And as we grew in spring ball, we started to get close to where we wanted to be. And then unfortunately the NCAA gave us 15 practices, and we had to stop.
“The natural thought is we’re going to take a little bit of a step back here at the start of fall camp. But the goal is to maximize that time, and speed up the way we play, the style in which we play the effort we play with and how physical we play.”
Unlike spring camp, true freshmen and late-arriving junior-college transfers report Monday. Sarkisian said key jobs are there for the taking and could be taken by “a fifth-year senior or true freshman.”
“It’s open. The competition is on,” Sarkisian said. “In my opinion, I think the cream is going to rise to the top of this football team, and our leaders are going to come out of this. I’m anxious to watch to see who’s changed. If I just go in close-minded (about position battles), say, ‘This is who we are, the same team at the end of spring,’ I might miss somebody.”
Three junior college players from the 2009 recruiting class – safety David Batts, cornerback Dominique Gaisie and punter Will Mahan – were accepted into school and will join the Huskies on Monday. Offensive lineman Daniel Mafoe and defensive lineman Johnny Tivao likely won’t make it in. ... Coming off knee injuries, safety Vince Taylor and running back Brandon Yakaboski will miss all of fall camp and some of the regular season. ... A couple of true freshmen will start training camp at new positions. Federal Way High product Andru Pulu moves from linebacker to defensive end, and Jordan Wallace goes from safety to outside linebacker to give the unit a little more speed. ... Former safety Curtis Williams, who died in 2002 after a violent collision with Stanford’s Kerry Williams two years before, won’t be honored this season with his No. 25 put on the field. Instead, the No. 25 jersey will be worn by Batts. “Hopefully that puts him back out on the field because that is where he always wanted to be,” Sarkisian said. ... Team captains will be revealed at the “Raise the Woof” dinner Aug. 28.
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442