Practice report - 4/21 PM

Under gloomy grey skies, the Washington football team returned to the Husky Stadium turf on Monday for the first of three practices this week leading up to Saturday's Spring Game. Contact was limited with the Huskies only partially in pads, so the memorable plays and highlight hits were hard to come by. But that didn't stop the team from getting some work done.

In the secondary, cornerbacks Chris Massey, Matt Fountaine and Kim Taylor got a lot of action today as Roc Alexander (shoulder) and Derrick Johnson (ankle) each got some extra time to rest nagging injuries.

Massey did a good job staying with the receivers in coverage, his top play coming when he stripped Reggie Williams of the ball on a Cody Pickett pass. Williams looked stunned as the ball hit the ground. Massey got high-fives from his fellow cornerbacks.

Fountaine had a fine day, just another in a string of impressive practices this spring for the redshirt freshman. He has the ability to close on the ball so well, and that was evident today on several occasions.

On one in particular, he closed on a pass from Casey Paus to bat down a ball intended for Charles Frederick. When Paus threw the ball, it appeared that Frederick was wide-open, but by the time it reached the junior receiver Fountaine was right in his mug to send it to the turf.

On another, Fountaine snatched a ball intended for Jordan Slye for the I-N-T.

Taylor's fortunes were not as kind. After an impressive week of practice, he came out today and showed difficulty covering the scout team receivers. Malcolm Baber burned Taylor on consecutive plays, both resulting in touchdowns. Afterwards, Taylor, a redshirt sophomore, got a talking to from cornerbacks coach Phil Snow.

At linebacker Joe Lobendahn had a terrific day. He turned in the defensive play of the day when he stepped in front of a Pickett pass intended for Ben Bandel and raced the other way. The physical abilities of J-Lo are unquestioned, and the junior from Hawaii appears to be on the right track in the instinct-department as well. He says he feels more mature this year than in previous seasons.

Also, at WIL linebacker, redshirt freshman Scott White appears to have a handle on the job ahead of Cory Jones. The winner of the job this spring will almost certainly be second on the depth chart in the fall behind Marquis Cooper once the senior returns to full health.

Up front, many of the youngsters had a bit of a breakout day. While Tui Alailefaleula had to miss much of the practice with a hand injury (x-rays turned out negative), the foursome of Jordan Reffett, Dan Milsten, Mike Mapu and Stanley Daniels all played well.

Reffett and Milsten were two of the more under-publicized recruits in 2002, but both have the size and athleticism that coaches look for. Milsten broke through the line today and nearly tackled Shelton Sampson in the backfield on play, and Reffett routinely got a good push on the line while running with the second-string.

Stanley Daniels is the kind of guy that seems to be able to turn it on when he wants to. On one-on-one drills, he used a swim move and went right around Clay Walker to get to the tackling dummy. Mapu recorded a sack in the 11 on 11s when he beat Francisco Tipoti around the edge to get to the quarterback. Each of the four appear to have the potential to be standout players.

Offensively, the quarterbacks and receivers had a very hard time hooking up. Unfortunately, neither can place the blame on the weather conditions - the wind was virtually non-existent and it never rained at all. For whatever reason, maybe the two-day layoff from practicing, there was never that chemistry that coaches would like to see between the quarterbacks and receivers today.

Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots. Two catches in particular stood out. The first came via the right arm of Paus, the third-year gun-slinger from Illinois. Paus slung the ball to the right sideline and connected with a sliding Clayton Ramsey for the catch in front of Fountaine. The fact that Paus threw the ball low, where only Ramsey could catch it, was a positive sign.

The other connection of the day came from the familiar pair of Pickett and Williams, AKA Cody and Reggie. Pickett dropped back, scanned the field, and lobbed a high pass to Williams in the right corner of the endzone. Reggie came down with the catch despite being swarmed by the shorter Roc Alexander.

On a day with the team in shells, the running game didn't get as much attention as it normally would with full pads. Therefore, neither tailback had an especially noticeable practice. Both Sampson and Chris Singleton did have runs of over 10 yards, but in a full-contact practice that might not have been the case.

At fullback Ty Eriks continued to get more time running with the first team. He caught both passes thrown his way. Both Eriks and Zach Tuiasosopo, whose only pass thrown his way was batted down, spent most of the day practicing blocking and knowing their assignments rather than carrying the football.

The receivers, as noted previously, didnt fair very well  partially due to themselves and partially due to the inability of the quarterbacks to deliver the ball accurately. On a high note, Jordan Slye looked more comfortable in his second practice/scrimmage at the receiver position. He still needs to learn to catch the ball with his hands instead of his body, but has looked impressive by combining size and speed with reliable hands.

Up front, the offensive linemen continued to learn blocking techniques from coaches Dan Cozzetto and Keith Gilbertson. Without full-pads, assessing their progress today would be nothing but a guess so I'll leave that for later in the week. One thing that did surprise, though, was the ability of Manase Hopoi to get around weak tackle Khalif Barnes with relative regularity.

The Week Ahead: The Huskies continue practice on Tuesday and Thursday, then will hold the annual Spring Game at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. (It's always the day of the NFL Draft isn't it!) Top Stories