The Huskies held a night practice that was again up tempo as has become a normality. Senior wide receiver, James Johnson and sophomore linebacker, Jamal Kearse were both at practice, but not suited up after their respective surgeries. Johnson’s surgery was to repair a dislocated wrist; he has his arm in a soft cast that extends to the middle of his upper arm. Kearse had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg and was on the sidelines in crutches, although he did appear to be able to put some weight on his leg. After normal warm up drills, special teams came out to work on punt coverage. Freshman punter Korey Durkee showed off his tremendous leg strength booming punts from his own 25 yard line to well inside the 15.
The big news of the day was the return of junior offensive lineman, Eric Kohler who suffered a knee injury on the first day of practice. Head coach Steve Sarkisian said it felt great to have Kohler back, that he looked great and that most impressively Kohler participated in both practices. Sarkisian said that as bad as the injuries were early on, they feel they are working their way back. Sarkisian said that although people are getting healthy, it might not be possible to just play 5 guys on the offensive line and that they have been working with up to 8 guys getting work on the O-line. He said they will prepare to have 5-8 guys ready and representative of that was the fact that Eric Kohler saw work at center today. Sarkisian hopes that Kohler could be used at tackle, guard and center if needed. As far as a game plan for San Diego State goes, the coaching staff has begun to implement plays into practice, although the players aren’t aware yet. Sarkisian said the players will receive the game plan on Saturday although everything the Huskies will run is already in the mix in practice.
The defense looked good in early drills, blanketing the receivers on deep coverage. At one point junior quarterback, Keith Price let a pass go for Kasen Williams in double coverage, and Williams just about came down with it before the defense knocked it away. The team then practiced some passes to the outside, and freshman wide receiver, Jaydon Mickens had an outstanding catch from Price, just barely staying inbounds. When the team kept the ball on the ground, freshman running back Erich Wilson II looked promising showing speed and an ability to get to the outside. Junior running back Jesse Callier and sophomore Bishop Sankey both showed their speed as well.
Callier spoke after practice saying that while he and Sankey have been splitting reps during practice, neither is thinking about who will replace Chris Polk. He says there is a healthy competition between him and Sankey, and they are just trying to compete as individuals and as a team and offense as a whole. He says he thinks the young wide receivers (Mickens & Taylor) have really stood out in camp and they have been studying their playbooks which gives the older guys confidence in them.
Callier says he is on the depth chart returning kicks, behind Shaq Thompson and he would like to be able to return kicks again this year, but is most concerned in helping out the team in whatever ways he can.
Practice ended with a beautiful pass from freshman quarterback Cyler Miles to senior wide receiver, Cody Bruns, 35 yards down field in the corner of the endzone. Bruns is considered the old guy on the team, and says he too has been impressed by the freshmen in practice, Mickens and Kendyl Taylor. Bruns has said from day one that the sky is the limit for the young guys and that he is trying to help them out in any way he can. He said is trying to prepare them mentally for things they wouldn’t necessarily think of prior to being in a game. In terms of where Bruns sees him himself fitting in, he says he is just trying to do his best day in and day out and will do his best with whatever role they put him in. He feels comfortable in the slot and thinks that given his lack of size, it allows him to utilize his speed and get through holes. Bruns hasn’t been healthy for much of his career, and says he is feeling great and is hoping he will be able to surprise people this year. When asked who on the defense has been giving him the most trouble thus far, Bruns said he can’t pick just one person; that the defense as a whole has been doing a great job, giving the offense different looks.
Sophomore linebacker, Alec Kimble has been moved to tight end and is wearing #89.
The team had a walk on kicker at practice today who did a decent job getting a couple of punts off. He was not included on the roster, but wore #94.
A scout from the Falcons was at the majority of practice.
Other injury notes: Sophomore defensive end Hau’oli Jamora (knee) and junior fullback Cooper Pelluer (shoulder) have still not had their surgeries yet, though Sarkisian did say they should be coming up soon. Junior wide receiver Kevin Smith and freshman linebacker Travis Feeney both wore yellow no-contact jersey’s. Feeney did participate in both practices today, as did junior linebacker Thomas Tutogi recovering from a knee injury. Senior linebacker, Nate Fellner (foot) was not suited up and was walking around in a boot. Sophomore running back Deontae Cooper was at practice, but not suited up dealing with a torn ACL.
Here are Head Coach Steve Sarkisian's full post practice comments: