UW's offensive line looks strong in spring scrimmage
The Huskies No. 1 offense rushes for 174 yards on 37 carries including 43 yards on eight carries from Chris Polk
Seattle Times staff reporter
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With each passing day, the disaster that was the 2008 season gets a little more distant for the Washington Huskies.
Few units on the team are more thankful for that than the offensive line, which might have been the most underachieving unit on a team whose 0-12 record ranked as the worst in school history.
"You look at last year, whatever could go wrong did go wrong," guard/center Ryan Tolar said. "It was just one thing after another. So it's just good to get into spring ball."
Especially on a sunny day like Saturday, when the offensive line began to show signs of life after what had been a lot of struggle the first two weeks against the defensive front seven.
In a 71-play scrimmage that was highlighted by some nice passing from Jake Locker and some big plays from linebacker Mason Foster, the most heartening sign might have been a running game that accounted for 174 yards on 37 carries — a total that might have been higher had Locker not been off-limits to contact and only had to be touched to be considered down.
That included 148 yards on 28 carries from the tailback position. A week ago, the tailbacks managed just 88 yards on 32 carries.
"As a whole, there was an emphasis to run the ball a little bit, and we were able to establish a pretty good running game," Locker said. "We were able to gain positive yards on first downs, especially, and put us in manageable down and distance, and that helped our offense really flow today."
Most telling might have been a drive in the third quarter when the ball was placed at the 2-yard-line and the No. 1 offense pitted against the No. 1 defense. Nine runs that accounted for 53 yards moved the ball to the 35 before the drive stalled (though it might have continued had Locker not been generously whistled dead on a third-down run on which he realistically might have scored).
"We were trying to get some [running backs] going, and they all did their things today," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "I thought there were some [good] things there, and that helped the passing game."
Chris Polk, in his first scrimmage of the spring after battling a leg injury, led the way with 43 yards on eight carries, including a 24-yard run in an overtime period that concluded the day and led to his own 1-yard scoring run on the next play. Freshman Demitrius Bronson, continuing his strong spring, had 25 yards on five carries, including a 7-yard TD. And of the other tailbacks, Willie Griffin had 35 yards on four carries, Curtis Shaw 18 yards on three carries and David Freeman 14 on two.
• Locker was 10 for 16 for 133 yards and a 26-yard TD to Devin Aguilar. Sarkisian said it might have been his best day, saying that "he was much more comfortable today than he has been the entire spring. He's really maturing in the system."
• Foster, a junior outside linebacker, had seven tackles, two sacks, a blocked punt and an interception on a Locker pass that Sarkisian said was the result of miscommunication. Sarkisian later said Foster and defensive end Darrion Jones have been the two most improved players.
• In the only significant injury, LB E.J. Savannah hurt his shoulder on the opening series and sat out the rest of the way. But Sarkisian said it wasn't serious, and Savannah should be back next week.
• UW's spring will conclude with the annual Spring Game this Saturday at 1 p.m.
Information in this article, originally published April 18, 2009, was corrected April 19, 2009. A previous version of this story identified Craig Noble as Ben Ossai, and Ben Ossai as Craig Noble. We regret the error.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies