4/18 Scrimmage report - the offense

Six days after their first scrimmage of the spring, the Husky offense kept with the strategy to focus on the running game more on Friday. They threw the ball 37 times and ran it 47, much the same as last Saturday, but this time the results were a bit different.

While the running backs stole the show in the first go-around, it was the quarterbacks and walk-on kickers who had the better day offensively today.

The kickers, Evan Knudson and Ricardo DeValle, were especially impressive. It's important to take into consideration the fact that there were only about 400 people at Husky Stadium and the pressure wasn't what it'd be in a game-situation, but neither kicker missed. Knudson cleanly booted in a 41-yarder and later banged home a 49-yarder with room to spare. DeValle added a 47 yarder.

Both kickers look capable, with an edge going to Knudson. It'll be interesting to see how the competition pans out once incoming punter Sean Douglas arrives from Bellevue, Nebraska in the fall.

At quarterback, Cody Pickett continued what has been an impressive spring, especially given the fact that he's had only two scholarship receivers to throw to for the duration of spring ball.

He had a 10-14 showing that included a 19-yard touchdown to Reggie Williams on a touch-pass in the corner of the endzone. Pickett put the ball where only Williams could catch it, and there was nothing freshman cornerback Matt Fountaine could do.

The fifth-year senior was on target early on, and never seemed to lose his feel. He distributed the ball quite well, hitting Chris Singleton out of the backfield and Ben Bandel down field on the second drive of the day.

Then, facing a third-and-long, he hit found Singleton again, this time on a screen pass, and the speedster a 4.39 40-time to his credit did the rest. Strong safety used the advantage of a slight angle to trip him up at the 7-yard-line.

Pickett's lone miscue came at the goal line, when a pass intended for backup fullback Adam Seery over the middle of the field was intercepted by linebacker Scott White. Pickett appeared to sense the pocket collapsing around him and rushed the decision to throw.

Both backup quarterbacks, Casey Paus and Isaiah Stanback, who only completed one pass in the first scrimmage, faired much better today.

Paus, who ran exclusively with the second-team, finished 5-10 for 50 yards. Stanback, who was behind Paus in the rotation and spent most of his time with the threes, was 4-10 for 36 yards.

But the finals stats didn't tell the whole story. Two of Stanback's best throws of the day slipped through the hands of the targets - first on a bullet pass to tight end Andy Heater, then on a 30-yard touch pass to Clayton Ramsey. Paus, meanwhile, sidestepped a pursuing defender to get away a side-armed pass to Scott Ballew only to see it go right through the hands of No. 37.

At this stage in the game, improvement is more important than anything. Based on the performances of each quarterback a week ago, the battle for the backup spot appears to be getting more competitive. That's an encouraging sign.

At tailback neither Singleton or Shelton Sampson, the two healthy bodies left standing at the position, had the stand-out kind of performance that Sampson did a week ago. That's not to say that neither impressed.

Singleton took advantage of a couple big plays early in the scrimmage to find confidence seldom seen over the past two years. He finished with 11 carries for 67 yards, the longest run going 21 yards on a run around the right side of the line. He added a touchdown run later.

It wasn't all rosy for the junior Californian, however. After practice, Husky head coach Rick Neuheisel singled out one of Singleton's plays as an example of how the running game isn't yet where it needs to be.

The play came in the middle of the scrimmage, the Huskies facing third-and-one. Singleton took the handoff and hesitated, then went to his right, getting tackled short of the first down when that there was enough room to simply dive forward behind a block for that one yard.

Sampson quietly carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards. His longest carry went for 12 yards on a day without any stand-out plays for the redshirt freshman tailback from Clover Park High in Lakewood.

The good news is that his only fumble of the day came on a muffed exchange with Stanback, rather than a hit by a defensive player. More than anything, Sampson has to prove that he can hang on to the ball in order to get the confidence of the coaching staff, and through two scrimmages he's done just that.

The fullback and tight end positions each saw a lot of bodies rotating on and off the field.

Ty Eriks ran with the first-team and saw some time back at tailback as well, just as he didlast Saturday. He took advantage of it by scoring two touchdowns in goal line situations. He also caught the one pass thrown his way.

Zach Tuiasosopo also got plenty of snaps, and in doing so found the endzone on, without a doubt, the craziest run of the day. The bulky fullback bulled his way up the middle on a dive play, and once his momentum stopped at the one-yard line, he bounced back outside and outran the defenders to the goal line. Tuiasosopo didn't have a pass thrown his way.

At tight end, Ben Bandel and Jon Lyon combined for three catches. Bandel's came early on a 13-yard pass from Pickett. Lyon reeled in passes from seven and four yards. Andy Heater also got in the act with two catches, but failed to fully take advantage of the amount of time he saw on the field.

Heater had two passes slip through his hands, and added a fumble on top of that. Jason Benn dropped the one pass thrown his way, and could be headed for a position change in the future unless he shows he can hold on to the ball.

Dash Crutchley, who was just moved over to tight end from REB linebacker, didn't make an impact.

Reggie Williams led all receivers in receptions (4), receiving yards (52) and touchdowns (2). Charles Frederick added three receptions for 44 yards. Jordan Slye, who moved over to receiver from safety last practice, had one catch for 10 yards.

Slye wore No. 12, and at 6-foot-5 was surprisingly a tough target for the quarterbacks to get the ball to. Paus and Stanback especially had a hard time, overthrowing the tall body of Slye. The redshirt-freshman's first reception came over the middle in traffic.

Whether he has the speed and can create the separation to excel as a receiver, time will tell. Today he showed promise that the coaches will likely be happy with.

On the offensive line, the Huskies suffered their lone injury of the day, a sprained ankle to weak guard Tusi Sa'au.

Sa'au had to be helped off the field and had a hard time putting much weight the ankle. Neuheisel says it's unknown whether hell be available to return for remainder of spring ball.

Francisco Tipoti started at strong tackle in the place of Nick Newton, who has been fighting an illness and is being tested for strep throat.

Neuheisel said that though he couldn't comment on much of the scrimmage without watching the tape first, he did say that he was pleased with the push of the line. That can't be anything but a good thing for the future of the Huskies and the running game.

In the crowd: Marques Tuiasosopo, Jafar Williams, Paul Arnold, Ryan Fleming and Jim Skurski joined Jim Lambright as former Huskies we spotted at the scrimmage today. Arnold had a nice moment exchanging hugs and high-fives with Reggie Williams and Charles Frederick.

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