Spring Game a Success

Keith Price (Kim Grinolds/Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - The good news is that the Dawgs beat the Huskies in Washington's Spring Game, 31-14. The bad news is that the Dawgs beat the Huskies in Washington's Spring Game, 31-14. As it always is, playing yourself can reveal strengths, as well as weaknesses, in equal measure.

But the best thing to happen to Washington this April is that they came out of it relatively unscathed, although they did have their scares.

Tackle Erik Kohler and walk-on LB Alec Kimble were both hurt in the fourth quarter of the spring game, diagnosed afterwards with MCL sprains, which Steve Sarkisian said should set them back roughly 2-4 weeks. It looked a lot worse at the time for Kohler, who was finally able to stand up and walk to the sidelines under his own power after staying down on the ground a couple of minutes.

Sarkisian also added that in terms of good injury news, 'all signs are pointing' toward getting defensive tackle Semisi Tokolahi back for fall camp. Tokolahi hurt his leg and ankle during the 2010 Apple Cup. He did say that he's very concerned about the health of DT Chris Robinson's knee, and they will have to talk more about and eventually make a decision about his footballing future at UW. Robinson re-aggravated the knee about 10 days ago. At the time, it didn't appear to be serious, but it has apparently deteriorated since then.

The UW Head Coach also added that all of the players who wore red throughout camp due to various injuries - Princeton Fuimaono, Cooper Pelluer, Taz Stevenson, Sean Parker, Greg Ducre, Deontae Cooper, and Zach Fogerson - are all well on their way toward being fully fit for the fall. And offensive linemen Senio Kelemete and Ben Riva will need some more time to take care of their assorted foot injuries, but both are expected to be raring to go in the summer.

The Spring Game started out as the 'Dawgs', meaning the No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense against the 'Huskies', the No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense. At halftime, the quarterbacks and running backs switched sides to give the game a little different feel. Jerseys were being thrown around like laundry, and the special teams were semi-live - meaning the teams went through the mechanics of the punt and kicking teams, but they didn't include live tackling.

"Just to recap today, I thought it went the way we were hoping to," Sarkisian said. "We got some game-like atmosphere. It was difficult to follow with the jerseys and the special teams situations. All in all it was a good day, I saw some positives in both ways."

Through it all, Keith Price had an outstanding game playing for both teams, combining for 212 yards passing and three touchdowns, two of them to James Johnson. The other throwing touchdown was a 13-yard strike to redshirt freshman DiAndre Campbell.

"I would think so," Sarkisian said when asked if Price was the leader over Nick Montana in Washington's quarterback competition. Montana, a redshirt freshman, went 9-20 for 146 yards and one touchdown, a beautiful throw a catch to Cody Bruns that covered 70 yards in the fourth quarter. "I thought he played well today. I thought he made good decisions. Keith's a very bright young guy. I think he's a 3.3, 3.4 GPA kid on campus. He's an engaging kid. He's very competitive. Bright-eyed, lot of energy - and he loves the game of football - which is what you want."

But Sarkisian was also quick to point out that a good spring game performance wasn't enough to give Price the job altogether.

"Today wasn't going to define who is going to be our starting quarterback," he said. "It's a body of work, and it'll give myself and our offensive staff and coach Nussmeier a chance to really evaluate the entire body of work of 15 practices - where we performed well and where we struggled and what that means and where we're headed as a program…if it fits the personality of what this football team has. We'll assess it all, and when the time is right, I'll make a decision."

Johri Fogerson led the Huskies running the ball with 12 combined carries for 72 yards. It's an interesting fact, when you note that there was a possibility Fogerson wasn't going to be practicing during spring at all after he was arrested in early March for investigation of possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. "If you watch him now, he's still not 100 percent," Sarkisian said of Fogerson. "You can see when he gets into the open field he still doesn't have that outright burst, and so the quad it's been a bit of a nagging injury here still. So that factor of it I think is kind of holding him back some. But I'd like to think he has been motivated. He's had an opportunity to try to earn his way back on this football team and he's taking advantage of it.''

It's still unclear whether or not Fogerson's legal situation will have any impact - if at all - on his eligibility this coming fall.

As Sarkisian said Friday, the game was going to be pretty vanilla offensively, but that doesn't mean there weren't a few fireworks. The second time Montana led the No. 2 offense, he sparked them to a 10-play, 73-yard drive that finished with a 15-yard touchdown pass to James Johnson.

Three series later, it was Price's time to find paydirt, as he directed a 12-play, 63-yard effort that finished with a five-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. And after the Dawgs punted, Price had the Huskies on the march again. At the Dawgs' 37-yard line, he connected with Michael Hartvigson on a pretty 29-yard pass play. But Nate Fellner had other ideas, and he was able to pry the ball loose from Hartvigson. Quinton Richardson picked up the loose ball and scampered 38 yards on the return.

The second half - with running clocks except for timeouts and inside of two minutes - started much like the first, but Price then started to really heat up. On his first drive of the third quarter - now with the No. 2 offense, he concocted a 14-play, 76-yard drive, capped off with his 13-yard pass to Campbell. He followed that up with a quick four play, 57-yard drive, highlighted with a 37-yard pass that found walk-on receiver William Chandler. After cornerback Anthony Gobern was called for pass interference against James Johnson in the end zone, that allowed Price to find Johnson again, this time open in the end zone for a two-yard score.

Just when it looked like Montana was done, he pulled out a big of magic in the form of a 70-yard bomb to Bruns, a throw that had to have carried at least 40 to 45 yards in the air. It was a great big-change play. But they couldn't capitalize on the momentum created when an onside kick went begging, so Price's team was able to start their next drive at the Huskies' 37.

After two runs from walk-on RB Willis Wilson, it set up a third-and-2 from the Huskies' 29. Price faked a handoff and bootlegged around the left side of the Dawgs' offensive line, finding nothing but green field turf in front of him. He waltzed in from 29 yards as the 10,000 fans inside Husky Stadium cheered their approval. It capped off a great day for Price.

"It always feels good when spring ball ends that way," Sarkisian said when asked how important it was to end the five weeks in April on such an upbeat note. "But that wasn't going to define our spring either. These games…when you get into a spring game and you're pretty vanilla on both sides of the ball, and you try not to show everything and do too much, and allow guys to have fun and play with one another - you'd like it to go well, but if it hadn't gone well, I wouldn't have felt like the spring was a disappointment. I thought we had a very effective spring. We accomplished a lot of the things we set out to accomplish that hopefully can springboard us through the summer into fall camp."

Sarkisian also noted a slight wrinkle that could have a sizable impact on summer conditioning, as the Huskies get ready for another stretch of off-season work. The team voted on their team captains Friday night, instead of right before the season - so when it comes to accountability and having seniors in place to lead from the front, Sarkisian wanted to be sure there was no ambiguity about who was in charge when the coaches are away. Those captains are Senio Kelemete, Jermaine Kearse, Alameda Ta'amu, and Cort Dennison. Expect those four to be kicking some butts and taking down some names as the team works their way into the all-important summer conditioning sessions.

"Although we have quite a bit of experience - guys have played a lot, 16 true freshmen last year - we're still very young," Sarkisian said. "We're still learning what it takes - not only on the field, but off the field - to be a championship-caliber football team. And I think those four guys are perfect from a leadership standpoint of showing these guys the way."


Spring Game Combined Statistics:
Rushing: Fogerson 12-72, Callier 12-39, Wilson 10-33, Polk 7-22, Montana 6-26, Price 5-53-1, Chandler 1-5, Sager 1-3

Passing: Price 20-28-212 yards, 3 TD's, long of 37; Montana 9-20-146 yards, one TD, long of 70

Receiving: Johnson 6-52-2, Chandler 5-72, Kearse 5-38-1, Bruns 4-102-1, Fogerson 2-26, Aguilar 2-11, Hartvigson 1-29, Campbell 1-13-1, Leonard 1-8, Hudson 1-5, Polk 1-2

Tackles: Gobern 8, Walker 8, Tucker 8, Timu 7, Gilliland 6, Wallace 6, Glenn 5, Tutogi 5, Kearse 4, Fellner 4, Shirley 3, Burnett 3

Tackles for Loss: Wallace 2, Shirley 1, Potoae 1, Walker 1, Galbraith 1, Hudson 1

Sacks: Potoae 1, Walker 1, Wallace 1, Galbraith 1

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