Practice report - 4/10 PM

Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel said on Monday that the defense typically is ahead during this time of the year, and if Thursday's practice was any indication the coach's words ring truer than ever for this year's team.

Led by a front line of Manase Hopoi, the emerging Junior Coffin, Terry Johnson, and Graham Lasee, the defense dominated the guys on the offensive side of the ball for long stretches today.

In the nine-on-nine drills, none of the runningbacks could find any room to run. The defensive-front gave them no space, smothering each of the three Husky ball-carriers in the backfield one play after another.

Coffin saw a lot of action with the first team, a move that Neuheisel said will hopefully add competition with returning starter, Jerome Stevens. Quietly, Coffin has begun to make plays and break out of his shell in this, his fourth season out of Olympic High in Bremerton.

At linebacker Cory Jones, No. 30, and Scott White, No. 5, both redshirted in 2002, are now are competing for the backup spot at the WIL position. Marquis Cooper, the starting WILL a year ago, is out all spring so each of the youngsters know their opportunity is now.

White had a nice day today, showing solid coverage skills and the ability to come up and lay a lick on a runningback. It'll be interesting to see how the competition unfolds. Right now it's too close to call.

Mike Mapu, the junior college transfer who already has the size to play in 2003, had a rough start to practice but made up for it with a strong second half.

After being overpowered early, the defensive lineman batted down a Casey Paus pass and came up with a big tackle in the backfield. If he can find the consistency that defensive line coach Randy Hart demands, Mapu could be a guy to watch come fall.

Tyler Krambrink, the fifth-year senior from Eatonville who has made a name for himself on special teams in recent years, had a great day as he competes with Greg Carothers for the starting spot at SAM linebacker. In one play, Krambrink overpowered tailback Shelton Sampson in the backfield, pushing the blocker on his back to blow up a passing play. On the following play, he positioned himself at the right place to come down with an interception on a one-handed catch.

Krambrink is one of the few remaining scholarship players from former Husky head coach Jim Lambright's final recruiting class. It's good to see him making a difference again after an injury-plagued career at Montlake.

Offensively the day wasn't as promising. None of the quarterbacks had the kind of practice that they'd want any scout to witness. Isaiah Stanback saw a lot of time with the two's, but had probably his worst throwing day of the spring thus far. He appeared to be uncomfortable in the pocket, still learning the footwork necessary to be a Pac-10 caliber quarterback, and as a result many of his passes fluttered or floated high. It was a forgettable day for him.

Paus wasn't especially impressive either. He spent most of the day leading the third-team offense, and had an up-and-down day throwing the ball.

Pickett, like the others, battled inconstancy. He had a few nice passes - the best of which went to Reggie Williams on play near the goal line - but a couple others that were stinkers.

In a drill where he was to throw to a receiver running an out-pattern, Pickett rifled the ball low only to watch it skid off the turf and nearly pick-off a hurdler who was running on the track.

All three quarterbacks took snaps practicing the option, though not as much as previous days. Even Paus, who isn't known for his mobility, spent time running the drill.

None of the three runningbacks had a standout day. Neuheisel says that the competition for running back right now - with senior Rich Alexis out this spring - is 1a, 1b, and 1c. So far that's been precisely the case. Each of the Singleton, James, Sampson trio saw time with the first-team today.

Sampson and Singleton each had runs of about 10 yards, but those were as big as the highlights got on this defense-dominated day. On a goal line drill, Singleton fumbled the ball at the two-yard-line, something no coach wants to see. Later, it was James who fumbled.

In blocking drills, both Sampson and James appear to be a ways away. Sampson got overpowered by whichever defender went at him, and James still isn't taking the right angles to the defenders and can be easily juked. Singleton, with two years under his belt, probably has the edge there, but not by any large margin.

Zach Tuiasosopo returned to full-contact after several practices in a red jersey. His ankle is healed, and it showed today as Tuiasosopo did a nice job in blocking drills and caught a hard-thrown pass in the front corner of the endzone.

Ty Eriks also had a solid practice, continuing to impress. He rotated with Tuiasosopo playing with the ones and twos, and caught the ball well on the few occasions passes came his way. Of all things, it's Eriks' hands that have been most impressive thus far this spring.

The receiving corps, consisting of Reggie Williams, Charles Frederick, and eight walk-ons looked a lot like they have all spring. Throw to Reggie or ET and the ball will most likely be caught. Anywhere else, it's anybody's guess. Matt Griffith is probably the most sure-handed of the walk-ons, and the addition of Scott Ballew helps bolster the thin position somewhat.

Ban Bandel and Jon Lyon ran with the first and second teams, switching off throughout the practice. Bandel had the catch of the day on a short route over the middle, holding on in traffic and dragging two defenders. Jason Benn had a difficult day. On one play he stumbled just as Pickett threw a pass intended for him. On another, he dropped a pass right in his hands. Andy Heater also got time playing with the second and third teams.

Practice Notes:
What's Ahead?: The Huskies will hold the first scrimmage of the spring at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Neuheisel said it will be anywhere from 60-100 plays long.

Feeling Blue: Offensive guard Dan Dicks missed practice due to an illness. Neuheisel said he's hopeful the Bellevue High product will be back and ready to go by Saturday for the scrimmage.

QB Central: Two future Husky signal-callers, Carl Bonnell and Ben Huebschman, attended practice today to get a look of the way the team conducts practice. Bonnell, who led Kentwood to the 4A Washington State Championship in 2001, originally committed to Washington State but was able to get out of his scholarship there due to the fact that he greyshirted.

Huebschman, who will walk-on in the fall, is currently a senior at Mountain View High in Vancouver, where he led the aerial-attack of the Thunder deep into the state playoffs this past season. He went on an official visit to Oregon before deciding to walk-on at the UW.

Lambo Sighting: Former Washington head coach and defensive coordinator Jim Lambright attended practice to get a look at the Dawgs of 2003. Lambo looked great, and ready for fall camp to start.

Calling all Football Crazies: The UW will play host to a two-day Football Clinic on Friday and Saturday. Former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey will be the keynote speaker, and Husky coaches Dan Cozzetto and Phil Snow will speak as well. The clinic starts Friday at noon, and will feature everything from X's and O's to strength and conditioning training. Top Stories