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Originally published Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 8:06 PM

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Defense leads the way in Washington's Spring Game

Keith Price, Kasen Williams, Bishop Sankey and many of Washington's offensive stars sat out half of the Spring Game, which wasn't much of...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Keith Price, Kasen Williams, Bishop Sankey and many of Washington's offensive stars sat out half of the Spring Game, which wasn't much of a game.

Injuries and the suspension of star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins thinned the roster, which forced the Huskies to turn the annual football game into a showcase featuring four scrimmages and passing and kicking competitions.

No one kept score, but the defense dominated Saturday due to the absence of the offensive stars, a vanilla game plan on both sides of the ball and cold, damp conditions at Memorial Stadium.

"When you're the head coach, you're rooting for both sides," coach Steve Sarkisian said. "More than anything, I wanted to see a game played the right way. I was a little disappointed that we had some issues with the snap towards the end of the scrimmage and I was a little disappointed we didn't catch the ball as well as we had this spring.

"But that being said, we didn't have breakdowns in coverages where guys were allowed to run wide open. It was a bit of a simplistic game plan on both sides of the ball and that's what should happen. If everybody does their job, the defense should have the upper hand and I thought that's the way the day went for the most part."

Many of the 7,000 spectators who came out to get a glimpse of Washington's ballyhooed fast-pace, no-huddle offense instead witnessed an attack that was purposely slower than advertised.

"The QBs, starting with myself, could have pushed the tempo a little more," said Price, who was 5 of 14 passing for 56 yards. "But, of course, spring games are a little vanilla. We didn't have a lot of our best (plays) dialed up. That's no excuse. I feel that the quarterbacks should lead the tempo and I don't think we did a good job of that today."

Price, who engineered one scoring drive, said he felt "a little jittery" being in front of the crowd.

"You get a little adrenaline rush," he said. "Then you have to settle down and do what you do."

For the most part, the offense never got in sync Saturday and the afternoon consisted of many botched exchanges between the quarterbacks and centers and passes that misconnected.

The defense didn't allow a touchdown when the offense started more than 25 yards away from the end zone.

"That's what you'd hope to expect," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said. "I thought there was some good series. There were some busts that showed up and too many missed tackles. We're going to always work on that. Our coverage matchups, we had a couple of issues more with the (backups) than probably the (starters)."

During one stretch, the defense didn't allow a score for seven possessions.

"The seven stops in a row, that's a great thing for our D-linemen," defensive tackle Danny Shelton said. "We've been really working on that. Keep everything consistent."

Wilcox praised the performances from linebackers John Timu and Shaq Thompson, who both didn't play much in the final scrimmages. Defensive end Josh Shirley, and linebackers Jamaal Kearse and Thomas Tutogi, each had four tackles to lead the defense. Shirley had the only sack and defensive end Conner Cree had two tackles for loss.

Meanwhile Sarkisian noted backups Cyler Miles (8 for 11 passing, 74 yards), Antavious Sims (5 receptions for 53 yards) and Kendyl Taylor (12 carries for 38 yards) stood out.

Despite the offensive troubles, Price is encouraged.

"We're going to be a scary offense, especially when we get all of the pieces together," he said. "When we get Austin, No. 88, back, it's a scary offense."


• Kickers Travis Coons and Cameron Van Winkle were 5 of 6 during a field-goal competition and they connected from 25, 30, 30, 40 and 45 yards and they missed a 45-yarder.

• Freshman Jeff Lindquist, Miles and Sarkisian were the winners in a quarterback competition that included former UW stars Warren Moon, Hugh Millen and Marques Tuiasosopo.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or

On Twitter @percyallen

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