‘Total domination’ is the goal for UW defense after strong spring practice
The Huskies wrapped up what they say was a productive month of spring practices during Saturday’s spring preview event. The modified scrimmage was the one chance for the public to see the team before their Sept. 3 season opener against Rutgers.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Throughout the spring, the Huskies have stuck to the prescribed script.
They don’t want to let heightened outside expectations creep into their thoughts. They don’t want to look ahead at what could be a breakthrough 2016 season. They don’t want to look past today, past this drill, past this play.
That’s the mandate from the top, and quarterback Jake Browning knows the script like he knows how to beat man-to-man coverage. The is-this-team-on-the-verge-of-something-special bait isn’t for him.
“I don’t know,” he said Saturday. “We had a good spring. We had a good spring preview. I’m not an expectations guy. I just take it day by day.”
He paused briefly.
“That’s pretty much the answer you’re going to get from everybody, huh?” he added, smiling.
The Huskies wrapped up what they say was a productive month of spring practices during Saturday’s spring preview event. The modified scrimmage was the one chance for the public to see the team before its Sept. 3 season opener against Rutgers, and several thousand showed up for the showcase to see the Purple team edge the White team, 17-13.
Whether the Huskies are good enough to contend in the Pac-12 Conference this fall, as some are predicting, depends on your point of view. The defense, we know, was great last season, giving up the fewest points and the fewest yards in the Pac-12. The still-young offense remains a work in progress.
UW coach Chris Petersen was asked if he feels “really good” at the end of spring ball.
“I don’t think I feel really good, no,” he said. “I feel like we’ve made progress. I think we’re pointed in the right direction. I just know how much work has to go in and how good we have to be to compete in this conference and do what we want to do.
“So I’m encouraged, and I like these guys a lot. But we have so much work to do to get to where we’re going to be — need to be. So do I feel really good? No. I’ll feel really good if we get through this Pac-12 schedule down the road and we’re doing some things we’re proud of. It’s a long way away.”
The last half hour of Saturday’s scrimmage featured “live” 11-on-11 periods, and it ended, appropriately, with the Purple team defense on fourth down stopping backup quarterback K.J. Carta-Samuels just short of the first-down marker. That meant the Purple team got to enjoy Ezell’s Famous Chicken for dinner; the White team settled for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Browning, as the established starter, didn’t get many snaps during the live periods, but he did throw a 10-yard TD pass to John Ross III, a tandem the Huskies hope to see much more of in the fall.
Even so, the Huskies figure to again rely heavily on a defense that returns eight regular starters and rarely had a misstep this month. The self-described “Death Row” defense doesn’t want to be content with what it achieved last season.
The goal for 2016?
“Pure domination,” linebacker Keishawn Bierria said. “I want that jewelry, you know what I’m saying? I want to make sure whatever we do, it lasts forever.”
What a script that would be.
• The Huskies picked up commitments Saturday from two recruits, both of whom were in attendance at Husky Stadium.
Hunter Bryant, a four-star tight end from Eastside Catholic High in Sammamish, announced his oral commitment in the morning. A few hours later, Alex Cook, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound wide receiver at Sacramento’s Sheldon High, also gave an oral commitment.
Scout.com ranks the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Bryant as the nation’s No. 6 tight-end recruit for 2017 and No. 2 on the West Coast. He chose UW over offers from UCLA, Washington State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Auburn, Nebraska and others.
Cook, rated a three-star recruit, has offers from several other Pac-12 schools, including Washington State, Arizona, Utah and Oregon State, and he recently picked up an offer from Michigan.