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July 1, 2013

Spring Rewind: Washington

With summer now in full swing, Kaelyn Sayles over at UDUBNation.com sat down with all of the Pac-12 publishers to recap Spring. So far we've seen her tackle the Bears with yours truly, plus Stanford, and Washington State.

Well today we flipped the script and got Sayles to answer her own questions.

Q: What was a major theme of spring practice?

Sayles: Overall, a major theme for Washington spring ball was consistency. This was especially true for the defense. Coaches and players stressed the importance of consistency every practice, and the most visibly frustrating practices were the ones where plays weren't made on a consistent basis. On the offensive side of the ball, head coach Steve Sarkisian decided to start trying out an up-tempo, no-huddle offense. Learning how to run this offense and defend against this offense - one that the Huskies will inevitably see from a majority of Pac-12 teams this season - was huge this spring.

Q: Who were some standouts on offense? Any breakout performers?

Sayles: Quarterback Keith Price - For the most part, Price threw accurate balls, showing an increased trust in his offense. His legs were back, he was a leader for the team and overall looked like he was getting back to his old self, putting last season in the past.

Wide receiver Kasen Williams - Williams is a big playmaker at wide receiver and looked better than ever. He's a big player and is athletic enough to move his large frame successfully across the field.

Wide receiver DiAndre Campbell - Also a big playmaker at wide receiver. Campbell came out of the woodworks this spring, making plays consistently and impressing coaches and teammates.

Tailback Bishop Sankey - Sankey has big running ability, and his hands have proven to be pretty reliable. He showed that he has the potential to come out and match or even top last year's performance.

Quarterback Cyler Miles - He showed that he's more comfortable with the offense. Miles threw accurately and proved that he is the viable choice for backup quarterback.

Q: Who were some standouts on defense? Any breakout performers?

Sayles: Linebacker John Timu - This is a big standout on the defense. He's getting better as a linebacker as he grows more comfortable in his role and leads his teammates by example.

Linebacker Shaq Thompson - He's continuing to improve and show leadership and maturity. The fact that he's a dual-sport athlete, sharing his Washington football spring practice with professional baseball training camp, hasn't hindered his ability to be one of the most dangerous players on the Husky defense.

Nose tackle Danny Shelton - He's a big presence on the defense, tackling well and making plays. He's learning to handle himself on the field, which will only make him a better athlete and teammate.

Defensive end Connor Cree - He's an outstanding pass rusher, and is showing command of his position. He's learning the defense, showing confidence and, already holding a large frame, has the ability to hold even more weight.

Safety Sean Parker - He's the leader of the Husky defense, and the guys rally behind him. He's a good tackler, making big plays in open space, and shows control and patience.

Q: What areas still need work before the season starts? Some weaknesses?

Sayles: Consistency was a big theme of spring practice, but it still needs work. With the up-tempo offense, players need to manage their fatigue and continue to make plays late in the game. This area was improved upon throughout the duration of spring, but it's not quite where it needs to be for the regular season.

Q: What are some strengths for this team as a whole?

Sayles: The energy and cohesiveness of this team are huge. The defense carried the team last season, and will continue to be a strength of Husky football. However, the offensive weapons of Kasen Williams, Bishop Sankey and Keith Price (if he can continue to get back to where he was) should prove to be dangerous.

Q: Any injuries or personnel news that can be talked about?

Sayles: There's a long list of injured guys that had been out and will be making their way back this fall, and will continue to be monitored once they get back on the field.. As he assessed his injured players, Sarkisian said he expects all of them to be back in the fall because none of them have had a setback, enabling them to stay on track during rehab.

Sarkisian imagined all the injured guys that should be coming back, and said there are a lot of good players that didn't play for them this spring, including Pio Vatuvei, Hau'oli Jamora, Jesse Callier, Colin Tanigawa, Travis Feeney, Deontae Cooper and Lawrence Lagafuaina.

Wide receiver James Johnson was out last season with a broken wrist that included torn ligaments. He came back this spring, not quite looking like himself. A few weeks ago, Washington released a statement that Johnson had decided to retire from Husky football because of his lingering wrist injury.

Obviously, one of the biggest personnel issues and news items of the spring was star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins legal issues. Back in March, Seferian-Jenkins was arrested and charged with a DUI, and subsequently suspended from the UW football program. His pretrial hearing is set for July, and Sarkisian is waiting to make a final decision on his punishment until the trial is over.

Kaelyn Sayles is the senior writer of UDUBNation.com. Having worked for the site since 2011, Kaelyn covers Washington football and men's basketball. Follow on Twitter @KaelynSayles and @UDUBNation.

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