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April 3, 2013

Back and ready to go

Tuesday, the Washington football team was back out on the field bright and early after a two-week hiatus from spring practice.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian wanted to switch things up this spring, and the break was just one of the many new things he was ready to try.

"Felt reenergized in a sense, not that we were fatigued by any means after six practices, but you take a couple weeks off, the first few days off you wish you were still out here, and then you kind of get used to being off, and then the last couple days you can't wait to get back on the field, so it felt great," head coach Steve Sarkisian said.

There were many reasons behind having a break, the overarching one being Sarkisian wanting to further control the environment of spring practice.

After practice Tuesday, he said there were two things that have always bothered him about spring ball: sidelining injuries and inevitable monotony.

Sarkisian said a broken finger, a rolled ankle and a pulled muscle are all injuries that will put a guy out for all of spring because it takes about two weeks to heal during a span of five straight weeks of spring practice.

This time around, guys that got a little beat up in the first half of spring practice were back and ready after having the opportunity to rehab during the two-week break.

The other concern was monotony. Sarkisian wasn't shy in stating that going four or five weeks in a row can get old.

"I don't care how many little tricks and things you try to give these guys to motivate them, at the end of the day, it can get monotonous just going against the same guys over and over and over again," Sarkisian said. "By breaking it up, doing two weeks, and then coming back for these next three, I thought the energy was good, the competitive spirit was really good in practice for the third week of spring ball, and that's what I was hoping would happen."

Wide receiver Kasen Williams appreciated the break.

The timing helped him refocus, and just like Sarkisian said, he was ready to get back.

"I believe it was definitely necessary, but now that we're back, it's like tunnel vision now," Williams said. "The only thing I'm thinking about is football, and that's definitely the focus because this is when you need to get your technique down and build that momentum going into the season."

Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Eric Kiesau wasn't sure what to think about the break in the middle of spring practice.

Now that it's happened, he can safely say he liked the two weeks off.

"That was the big thing we got was really evaluating ourselves," Kiesau said. "I didn't really know what to expect, but now that I've done it I really like it a lot."

And it wasn't difficult to get back at it, either.

"Once you got on the field and running around, it's a pretty easy transition," Kiesau said.

Like Kiesau said, during the two-week break, the coaches were able to get a chance to evaluate the program.

Sarkisian said they wanted to be able to look at the new up-tempo offense they had been running, digest it, and see what it felt like after six practices - and they were able to do just that.

"We saw some things from the first six practices that we felt like with the tempo, one of the keys is you have to continue to push it so we can minimize the errors in the sense that if we keep pushing it, we can critique the errors even more," Sarkisian said. "The natural thing for the players is to try and slow everything down and try to be right. We got to keep pushing the tempo and then with the tempo, we can really critique the errors and then minimize those errors on both sides of the ball."

Now that the second half has begun, they're getting back to day one installation and trying to really stress the fast tempo and overall speed of practice.

After Tuesday's practice, Sarkisian seemed happy with the players.

He knows they're not quite where they need to be yet, but they'll continue to push toward the goal of running a successful up-tempo offense.

"All in all, I was proud of the guys," Sarkisian said. "They had kept themselves in relatively good shape over the break. We're going to be a little sore after this one, just when you come out and do this much running, but I really thought the energy was good, their attitude was good, I thought they competed at a high level (Tuesday). We weren't perfect, there's plenty of stuff for us to clean up on both sides, but I liked their willingness to come out and battle."

Seven practices down, seven more to go before the spring game on April 20 at Memorial Stadium.


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