By Tony Castricone (photo credit: Scott Eklund)
August 19, 2018

Two weeks before the season-opening game against Auburn, the Washington Huskies hosted a closed scrimmage at Husky Stadium on Saturday afternoon in front of only staff and season ticket holders. The offense scored a 39-31 win over the defense.

Because this scrimmage was closed to the media and the general public, I’ve been asked not to give away any details of what occurred or any statistics that were kept (other than the final score, which was on the scoreboard for all to see.)

What I can tell you is that the scrimmage featured a lot of work from a lot of the backups, and while the 2018 graduating class will leave some huge holes to be filled, there are several talented youngsters waiting in the wings to fill their shoes.

Several running backs looked good, including transfer Malik Braxton from Western Oregon. He, Kamari Pleasant and Sean McGrew all had their stretches like they looked like they could be very competent in the absence of Myles Gaskin or Salvon Ahmed. I continue to be impressed with McGrew’s speed, which has earned him in-game reps on kick return duty in the past.

On the defensive side, while Washington didn’t boast anyone with huge sack numbers a year ago (Ryan Bowman led the team with 5.5 in 2017), the “sack by committee” mindset still earned UW the 2nd most sacks in the Pac-12 and the 17th most in the nation: an average of 2.92 per game. Several players showed the ability to get after the quarterback, including some true freshmen.

Finally, that defensive backfield continues to display its prowess. As the Seattle Times wrote in an article earlier this week, Dominique Hampton, Julius Irvin and Kyler Gordon may all be true freshmen, but they are the waves of the future in the Husky secondary. All three showed that again on Saturday, especially Dominique Hampton.

While Van Soderberg continues to get reps, I would continue to guess that Peyton Henry has the inside track on the starting job at place kicker. He hit a 51-yarder in practice earlier in the week, and he showed more range on Saturday. As is always the case with kickers, consistency is the biggest key. What can Henry, Soderberg, or anybody else reliably and consistently do in the kicking game? We’ll ask coach about it on the first Coach Petersen Show this Thursday at 6 pm.

Here’s what else is going on this Sunday morning:

  • This article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution is a couple days old, but it does a great job of outlining how the Huskies and Tigers came together to open 2018 in Atlanta. The game was announced less than 24 months ago, and required some juggling of the schedule. The Huskies’ home opener against North Dakota on September 8 of this season was originally scheduled for September 1.
  • One of the cooler stories about this team is the fact that senior tight end Drew Sample and one of his mentors, tight ends coach Jordan Paopao, both got hitched within eight days of each other this summer. The Seattle Times did a feature on the nuptials this morning.
  • The men’s basketball schedule is not finalized yet, but it’s shaping up quite nicely to include some real RPI builders and strength of schedule opportunities. The Vancouver Showcase gives UW the chance to add a high-major opponent to the gauntlet. The Huskies will play at Gonzaga this season, and also look to avenge a 103-79 loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies last season when they meet in mid-December in Atlantic City. Multiple published reports this week alluded to UW and Auburn meeting at Auburn Arena this year, too, and those I’ve talked to hope to make it official soon. All these games will take place away from home. The women’s basketball schedule is also absolutely loaded.