This Friday, April 30, the Huskies will play the 2010 version of the Purple and Gold game. This game will pit head coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense and defense against each other for the second year.
During last year’s game, the playbook was somewhat limited, and the performance in the game reflected that. This year, however, the story should be significantly different.
As the team readies itself for the 2010 season, the following areas make the game worth watching.
1) Locker leading the offense
Ever since that day last fall when quarterback Jake Locker said those poetic three words—“I’m coming back”—everyone has been talking about how much he’ll grow in the second year in this pro-style offense.
During the draft, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy received criticism for coming from a spread offense, where the sidelines signal in the responses to the defensive coverages.
Locker—and his receivers—will be making those decisions and shifting based on what they see. This game will give him a chance to test those reads against a semi-friendly defense, but I'm sure that they'll have a few surprises ready for him.
2) Who will lead the defense?
With the graduation of linebacker Donald Butler and defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, there is now an opportunity for someone else to step up and lead this defense. Linebacker Mason Foster returns to the team, as do several other younger players.
The challenge for this year’s defense is to grow into the larger playbook that defensive coordinator Nick Holt will employ in year two. The terminology, coverages, and lessons they learned last year were only the beginning.
This year one of the players experienced within the system—and respected by his peers—will need to step up to be the field general.
3) Who will be the backup quarterback?
Both Keith Price and Nick Montana have had their ups and downs this spring, so it will be interesting to see who has the better day on Friday.
For the long-term success of the program, Montana would be better served to have this year be a redshirt. However, given both his bloodlines and his performance at Oaks Christian, he may earn the job and make the redshirt a moot point.
Price is in his second year in the offense and does have a leg up in terms of the playbook. They both need to show it on the field between now and the middle of August.
4) The Kicking Game
Erik Folk and Will Mahan both had great years last year for the Dawgs. Their challenge will be to repeat that.
Due to some departures, there will be a new snapper, Brendan Lopez, and holder, Cody Bruns. Bruns is also spending time at wide receiver, so his hands should be warm most days. Lopez was the backup to Danny Morovick last year and now steps up to the full-time role. They both need to be ready to answer the call whenever it comes.
5) The Surprises
Much like Deontae Cooper surprised fans and teammates at practice this week, the spring game will provide an opportunity for other players to stand out.
It could be a wide receiver on the second team breaking free in the secondary or a linebacker streaking through for a sack. The spotlight on Friday night will amplify any great plays, or any terrible ones. Each player needs to make sure he lands on the positive side of that equation.
These are only five of the things fans can look for during the 2010 spring game. For many college teams, the spring game is must see TV. It’s a chance to see the players try to put the past month’s practice into action. All of the battles for positions and playing time add a layer of intensity to the scrimmage as well.
With Husky Stadium being one of the best college football environments in the land, this week looks to be a great edition of “Purple and Gold Friday Night Lights!”