Kasen Williams shows his skills in scrimmage

August 17, 2011

By Bob Condotta

NEW — 3 p.m. Aug. 17, 2011

It was a play that officially didn’t count that might have spoke the loudest Tuesday as the Washington Huskies held their first significant scrimmage of fall camp.

Late into the 93-play affair, quarterback Nick Montana scrambled away from a rush and threw high into the back of the end zone — yes, a play that somewhat resembled one made famous three decades ago by his father, Joe.

And in reprising the role of Dwight Clark, UW freshman receiver Kasen Williams leapt high into the air to steal the ball away from 6-foot-4 safety Travis Feeney for an apparent touchdown.

Alas, UW coaches had called Montana down when he was touched by a defender.

But as UW coach Steve Sarkisian said later, “whether or not it was a sack, it was a heck of a play.”

One of several made by Williams as he tied for the lead among receivers with four catches for 53 yards, continuing a training camp in which he appears on track to being just about what the Huskies thought he’d be.

“We’re finding more and more about what he does really well and what he’s comfortable doing, and we’re trying to put him in those settings,” Sarkisian said.

When the No. 1 offense took the field for the first time Tuesday, Williams took the field as well, working alongside Jermaine Kearse and Kevin Smith in a role that has been filled by senior Devin Aguilar, who worked primarily with the second team.

Sarkisian said he wasn’t ready yet to proclaim Williams a starter.

Williams, however, has quickly become one of key members of the receiver rotation, sure to be on the field a lot this season.

“We are pushing him to see what it looks like and how he responds, and he has done nothing but respond every chance we have given him,” Sarkisian said. “There is still the big learning curve and the mistakes that are made. He has not been perfect by any means. But I love his resiliency. I love the fact that when he makes mistakes he wants to learn and get better from them. He takes tremendous notes. He’s a very serious guy when it comes to competing.”

The emergence of Williams and freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, UW coaches say, is giving the offense more options than a year ago.

“It’s a pretty dynamic group of playmakers, and it’s fun for us as a staff because now that ball can be spread to five different guys,” Sarkisian said. “It’s not ‘we’ve got to get the ball to Jermaine or Devin.’ Everybody can make their plays and it’s allowing the system to work for the quarterback, and I think that’s why we are seeing a little bit more efficiency overall in the offense when we are doing things the right way.”

Said quarterback Keith Price: “It makes my job a lot easier.”

Sarkisian said the scrimmage was similar to an early NFL exhibition game for the veterans, many of whom played the first series or two and then took a seat. Chris Polk rushed nine times for 36 yards in the first two series, including a touchdown, and then sat out the rest of the way.

Starting quarterback Keith Price was 7-of-9 passing for 80 yards, saying he was “just trying to be efficient today.”

Backup Nick Montana, whom Sarkisian continues to say is having a good camp, was 14 of 20 for 113 yards and threw the only official touchdown pass, a 2-yarder to walk-on running back Travon Brooks.

Other touchdowns were scored by linebacker Jamaal Kearse on a 25-yard return of a fumbled snap (the only turnover of the day), a 13-yard run by freshman fullback Dezden Petty, and a 2-yard run by Jesse Callier. Erik Folk also kicked a 51-yard field goal and backup Eric Guttorp had a 36-yarder.

Freshman running back Bishop Sankey led all rushers with 53 yards on seven carries. Junior receiver James Johnson, vying to stay in the receiver rotation, tied Williams for the lead among receivers with four catches for 69 yards, most on the team.

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