Huskies try youth movement for a day

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SEATTLE — The decision was part choice and part necessity for Steve Sarkisian.

The Huskies coach had his team scrimmage for the entirety of Tuesday afternoon’s sun-soaked practice. In total, there were 12 series run plus a few more during an overtime period. And nearly three-fourths of those featured a combination of the No. 2 and No. 3 offenses and defenses.

Sarkisian said he wanted to get a look at some of his younger players, but the reality was a vast amount of his veterans were injured.

“We held a couple guys out and limited some guys today,” Sarkisian said. “This was a bit more about the younger guys and how they’d respond to that setting, just gathering information. Some guys that we had good information on were either held out or limited so they’ll get back going again.”

It was evident with the first-team offense. With James Johnson limited by a foot sprain, speedy true freshmen Kendyl Taylor and Jaydon Mickens saw first-team repetitions along with their normal turns with the second team.

Taylor caught a 35-yard touchdown from Keith Price early in the scrimmage; Mickens caught a 24-yard touchdown from Derrick Brown while playing with the second team.

“They are explosive guys,” Sarkisian said. “They are different from what we’ve had in our program the first three years with their acceleration out of their cuts, their route running, their high football IQs. They give us an explosive dimension to our offense that we haven’t had. They can create big plays.”

As with most first-year players, there were times when Mickens and Taylor lined up wrong and had to be reminded of motion calls and checks.

“They are going to have a handful of plays they want back from today as well,” Sarkisian said. “But that’s all part of putting them in this situation and making a play.”

The first-team defense featured redshirt freshman Travis Feeney at a starting outside linebacker spot despite having just been moved to the position from safety Monday.

“Travis was around the ball again,” Sarkisian said. “This is two days in a row now. … I’ll have to look at the film to see exactly where he was right and where he was wrong, but what I do know is that he’s around the ball and he gets to the ball.”

The coaches called in plays from the sideline during the scrimmage, and tried to simulate live-game situations more than they have all camp.

“This is the first time we let them go out on the field and have to play without a coach in their ear telling them what to do; without being able to look at a script to see what might be coming,” Sarkisian said. “They had to go play and get a call and line up and communicate and execute.

“I think there were some guys that we thought were maybe further along that struggled at that a bit today, so we need to keep pushing them in those types of settings so they can feel more comfortable doing it.”

It certainly affected the overall tempo. Simple tasks like getting out of the huddle and getting quickly lined up, substitutions on both sides of the ball, and adjusting personnel groups were also sluggish at times.

“Those are fixable things,” Sarkisian said. “I didn’t see something glaring like, ‘Jeez, we’re playing the wrong guy at the wrong spot.’ ”

The No. 1 defense had the best day. The unit was never scored upon. Three times it went up against Price and the No. 1 offense, and allowed three first downs total.

Price did throw a pair of touchdowns against the No. 2 defense. After the one to Taylor, he later hit former Gig Harbor standout Austin Seferian-Jenkins on a deep route up the seam. Seferian-Jenkins made a leaping catch over cornerback Darien Washington and fell backward into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown.

The No. 2 offense rotated series among redshirt freshman Brown and true freshmen Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist, who are all vying for the backup job to Price. In addition to the TD pass to Mickens, Brown also hit tight end Josh Perkins on an 8-yard scoring pass during the overtime period. Miles connected with Marvin Hall on a pretty 45-yard completion that set up a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Hudson.

EXTRA POINTS

Special teams coach Johnny Nansen confirmed that junior college transfer Travis Coons has won the placekicking job, and true freshman Korey Durkee out of Gig Harbor will be the punter. The competition for both spots was between only those two players. ... Safeties Shaq Thompson and Justin Glenn missed practice for the second consecutive day because of concussions. ... Besides Johnson, linebacker Princeton Fuimaono, cornerbacks Tre Watson and Marcus Peters dressed but did not participate in the scrimmage.

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