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Originally published Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 4:22 PM

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UW gets ready for spring football practices

The Holiday Bowl victory capped a four-game winning streak to end the season, giving UW its first winning record since 2002 at 7-6 and seem to indicate that the program is on the right track under Sarkisian.

Seattle Times staff reporter


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The University of Washington football team has wrapped up its winter conditioning program, players now home for spring break for one last respite before spring practice begins March 29.

When the Huskies hit the field that day at 4 p.m., it will be the first time since the revelatory Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska in San Diego on Dec. 30.

But as much as UW coach Steve Sarkisian wants the memory of that 19-7 win to linger, he also wants to keep fresh in mind all that came before it, as well.

"One of our challenges is not to forget where we came from and where we were two years ago when we got this thing started," he said. "It's not just about what we just did at the Holiday Bowl but what we have accomplished over a two-year span, that there is still so much work to be done and what it takes from a work ethic and toughness standpoint to get this accomplished.

"We will address the Holiday Bowl and address two years ago. We'll address a lot of things to keep ourselves motivated and working hard and knowing there are so many more things out there for us to achieve."

The Holiday Bowl victory capped a four-game winning streak to end the season, giving UW its first winning record since 2002 at 7-6 and seem to indicate that the program is on the right track under Sarkisian.

The coach was rewarded with a new five-year contract, securing him at Washington through 2015, supplying the program with a measure of stability it hasn't had since the early days of the Rick Neuheisel era.

On the field, however, the Huskies will have as much uncertainty at quarterback as any year since 2005 as Isaiah Stanback, and then Jake Locker, have been the acknowledged starters for every season since then.

Sophomore Keith Price and redshirt freshman Nick Montana (eligibility designations are for the 2011 season) will battle to replace Locker, though it's unlikely it will be decided in the spring. Sarkisian said each will get equal reps throughout the 15 spring practices and that the team is "not going to rush" to a decision.

UW, however, will have a lot of other key pieces returning. On offense, the Huskies return four linemen who started last season, two receivers and running back Chris Polk, whose 1,415 yards in 2010 were the second-most in school history.

The Huskies return eight of the starters off the defense that held Nebraska to seven points, losing linebackers Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa and strong safety Nate Williams.

The battle for those spots figures to last into the fall as some of the possible replacements will be out or limited for the spring.

Safety Taz Stevenson and linebackers Princeton Fuimaono and Cooper Pelluer all had offseason shoulder surgery and will be off-limits to contact in the spring.

The cornerback spot will also be hard to assess in the spring as Adam Long, a key reserve a year ago, suffered an ACL injury in the offseason and is out for the spring while Greg Ducre recently had shoulder surgery and is on a no-contact basis for the spring.

The defensive line will also be a little thin in the spring as tackle Chris Robinson and end Talia Crichton will each be limited while recovering from knee injuries suffered last season, and tackle Semisi Tokolahi remains out with a dislocated and broken ankle suffered against Washington State.

Offensively, UW will open spring drills without running back Johri Fogerson, who is suspended per school policy after being charged with resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.

Left tackle Senio Kelemete will also be limited after suffering a plantar fascia injury during offseason conditioning. Running back Deontae Cooper, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury last August, is on track to return this season, Sarkisian said, but will be limited to non-contact drills throughout the spring. Same is true for punter Will Mahan, who suffered an ACL injury after the first game.

Of the players who are healthy, however, Sarkisian anticipates seeing a stronger, sturdier group after an offseason conditioning program that emphasized strength and getting bigger up front.

Sarkisian said testing done at the end of the program showed the highest overall numbers in the bench, squat and power clean lifts since he arrived as coach.

"That tells you we got it accomplished in the weight room," he said. "Now we have to see how that will translate to how we play out on the field."


• Three incoming freshmen will enroll in time for spring practice — tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Gig Harbor and defensive end/linebacker Jarett Finau of Juanita, each of whom signed a letter of intent in February, and walk-on quarterback Thomas Vincent of King's High School.

• The two new graduate assistants are Jordan Paopao, who last year was offensive-line coach at Azusa Pacific and previously worked two years as a recruiting assistant at Stanford, and Donte Williams, who played at Syracuse and last year was a quality-control coach at Nevada. Paopao will work with the tight ends and Williams the linebackers.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or

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