An oft-maligned defense got the better of an undermanned offense in the second University of Washington football scrimmage of the fall training camp Saturday afternoon.
The Huskies’ first defense, facing UW’s No. 1 offense for the first time in scrimmage play, had its way with Jake Locker and Co. for most of the time the two first units were on the field. It took Locker four drives to get the Huskies into the end zone, and that came after the previous three drives resulted in just five first downs.
“I thought the defense today came out with the right energy and passion,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said early Saturday evening. “I thought they were really focused in early on, and they played physical, enthusiastic football. I felt like early on, we were kind of lackluster offensively, like we were in slow motion.”
The session was played without starting left tackle Senio Kelemete (sprained ankle) and go-to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse (sore foot), which played a part in the lack of gushing praise defensive coordinator Nick Holt placed upon his unit.
Holt seemed more frustrated with the lack of crisp play from the second and third units, and from the freshman class in particular, during Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
“All the freshmen, they need to get a little rest,” Holt said. “All of them are a little shaky right now. They’re a little bleary-eyed. Mentally, they’re not as sharp right now because they’ve had so much put upon them.”
Among the freshmen, wide receiver Kevin Smith was one of the few bright spots. He caught four passes for 21 yards and had a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD.
But during plays that started from the line of scrimmage, touchdowns were hard to come by. The scrimmage included 15 possessions and only two touchdowns.
The play of the No. 1 offense was particularly perplexing.
“They (the defense) came ready to play, and I thought we were a little lackadaisical at the beginning,” Locker said. “And it showed, I guess.”
Playing without Kelemete, the Huskies shuffled things up front. Center Drew Schaefer moved to left tackle, while senior Greg Christine stepped in at center. The offense started with a three-and-out, and after two scoreless possessions, the coaches called Christine out and moved Schaeffer back inside while true freshman Erik Kohler took Kelemete’s spot at left tackle.
But the next drive stalled out at midfield before — on its fourth possession of the game — the No. 1 offense finally got a touchdown. Locker went 4 for 4 on his final drive, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Cody Bruns.
Locker completed 9 of 13 passes for 70 yards and the touchdown.
All in all, the offense gave way to the defense throughout Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage.
But Holt said his unit still has a long way to go before the opener at Brigham Young University in 13 days.
“I need the (second unit) to be more tenacious, like our ones, and I think they can be,” he said. “We have some good backups. I don’t know if they’re happy being backups or if they’re struggling mentally, but I’m not happy. Hopefully, we’ll clear this thing up and get better before BYU.”