Washington coach Steve Sarkisian joined Brock & Salk on Monday to help answer some of the questions facing the Huskies as they begin spring practice this week.
The most notable storyline is the battle between freshman Nick Montana and redshirt sophomore Keith Price to replace Jake Locker as the Huskies’ starting quarterback.
Sarkisian reiterated that whichever quarterback isn’t named the starter should still be prepared to see meaningful playing time.
“I thought they both have improved immensely in the short amount time that we’ve had them,” Sarkisian said. “And so, through it all, as much as we want to say it’s a competition against each other, we’re gonna need both of these guys, and I’ve been saying that for a few months now. In this day and age in college football, to expect one quarterback to go through (the entire season uninjured) is almost an anomaly now.
“So we’re gonna need both of them, and we’re gonna prepare both of them to play, and when the time is right to name a starter we will. But I’m in no rush to do that.”
Jermaine Kearse was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection after leading the Huskies with 63 catches for 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
Sarkisian expects Kearse, a senior, to take on a leadership role to help Montana and Price through the inevitable growing pains.
“There is going to be some spring practices where we struggle offensively — that’s just the matter of fact. Our defense is going to have their days. These young quarterbacks — we’re gonna fight for consistency — but they’re gonna have a couple days where they struggle,” Sarkisian said. “Jermaine (needs) to really assume this leadership role, and not to let the frustration set in, to understand we’re at the very beginning stages of this new 2011 football team, and to be the leader, to have the ability to put his arm around those guys and to keep bringing them along until we get them to a point to where we can really count on that consistency factor.
“So I think from a maturity level for Jermaine and where he’s at going into his senior year as an all Pac-10 performer, (he must) really assume a leadership role with these two young guys as well as the entire offense.”
James Johnson burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2009, catching 39 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns. But an offseason ankle injury contributed to a disappointing sophomore season. He caught just one pass in seven games.
When asked where Johnson fits into the offense this season, Sarkisian noted the depth in UW’s receiving corp. He said Johnson is healthy after a “very good” offseason and insisted that Johnson hasn’t fallen out of favor.
“I think the world of James. He’s a great kid, he’s got tremendous work ethic,” Sarkisian said. “And so we’ll see where he goes. But by no means is he in a doghouse, by any means.
“He’s a great kid, he gives us everything he’s got, so we’ll see where it all plays out here through spring and then into fall camp.”