Tuesday Practice Spotlight

SEATTLE - Chris Petersen has taken a liking to the phrase ‘taking two steps forward and one step back', and that was certainly the case Tuesday. In fact, while Petersen certainly appeared eager to the thought that practice had started up again, he was not pleased with the idea that the Washington Huskies are lagging behind the competition.

"Time's ticking; we only get so many days out here with these guys," he said Tuesday. The Huskies resumed their spring practice schedule after taking two weeks off for academics and spring break. "We will get it eventually. Eventually it just needs to be sooner eventual than late eventual.

"Got a lot of work to do. Good to be out here, beautiful day. Good to have ‘em back, but two weeks is a long time off, so we're working hard but we have a lot of details to clean up. That's what spring ball is all about and hopefully we'll make progress every day."

It was good to see senior linebacker John Timu back on the field and practicing after being suspended for a violation of team rules.

It was also a great sign that Jaimie Bryant finally made his purple and gold debut. Originally committed to the Huskies back nearly two years ago, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive lineman from Tumwater was asked to forego signing a letter of intent for 2013 and instead greyshirt, or delay, his enrollment until 2014.

Bryant went ahead and delayed enrolling at Washington but was then one of many blindsided by the news in December that Steve Sarkisian would become the new USC Head Coach. Bryant had no idea if Chris Petersen would honor Sarkisian's end of the bargain, but the new coaching staff reached out to him and he went ahead and signed his letter of intent on February 5th.

Bryant, wearing No. 91, has been asked to lose about 20 pounds, and there's no doubt Tim Socha will get him squared away. Any time guys can come in early I think it helps them tremendously," Petersen said about Bryant's arrival in time for spring quarter and the second half of spring football. "This will be a hard three weeks on him. It's like speaking a completely foreign language. Truly. He doesn't know anything…I think he knows where the 40-yard line is but other than that - when we start calling defenses at him he doesn't know anything. But it'll be great. By the end of the three weeks he'll know something, he'll be a little further ahead and it'll help him for the fall."

Not to necessarily be overshadowed, Washington also welcomed two walk-ons in for spring football; defensive back Aaron Chapman, and kicker Mitch Johnson. A BroncoCountry.com story about Chapman's initial move to Boise State gives some great background on the 5-foot-11, 178-pounder's travels to get to college. When Petersen moved to Seattle, Chapman was compelled to wait and then enroll spring quarter at Washington to follow Petersen to Montlake.

Johnson is a redshirt sophomore from Bellevue that initially walked on to kick at UCLA for his first two years of college, and then moved back in time to start spring quarter at Washington and walk on to the football team.

"All of our guys are Huskies, that is what they are," Petersen said when asked about the newcomers. "We're happy they are here. Whether they are scholarship guys, walk-ons…none of that matters."

While the return of Timu and arrival of new players to Washington's spring roster were in the plus column, they were balanced out by a number of other players - Danny Shelton, Hauoli Kikaha, Marcus Peters, and Ben Riva among them - having schedule conflicts with some of their classes. Petersen confirmed the conflicts as the reason why the Huskies are practicing on Thursday nights.

"There's things called academics around here, and they come first," Petersen said. "So they've got class."

Petersen was very quick to deaden thoughts that maybe a player or two had really surprised him after going back and reviewing the first two weeks' worth of practice tape. In fact, after six spring practices he would not name one player that really jumped out at him in terms of improvement or just based on overall play.

I'll tell you if I see a guy, and there wasn't one out there where I went ‘Wow, that's pretty special'," Petersen said, matter-of-factly. "Work in progress."

In fact, Petersen was loathe to lavish praise on his new team, other than say that the effort is there. "We're just not where we need to be," he said. "That's how we look at everything out here. Are we playing at the level we need to? It doesn't matter if a receiver runs a wrong route, if an o-lineman busts; they've got to make the right decision off that. That might be throwing the ball in the stands. That might be taking a sack. It really doesn't matter what anyone else is doing at any position…are you doing your job correctly? That's what we're working towards."

With so much on their plate in terms of getting the team up to scratch, Petersen rubbished any thoughts that they've had time to scout opponents or begin to formulate game plans. Even during the break it was all about what the staff could do to hit the ground running this second half of spring and get the most out of the eight practices they have before Spring Game April 19th.

"We are very much worried about ourselves right now," said Petersen. "We're not in any position to worry about our opponent. It's all about us. We just don't have enough hours in the day, really. Everything we did out there was filmed. We only get so much time with these guys. They come in on their own and watch some of it on their own as well. But it'll be good to have a nice library at the end of spring that we can continually refer back to."
Chris Petersen, on getting past the learning phase in spring - "We've hurt our kids as coaches by being a new coaching staff. We set them back, and we tell them that every day. Because we're new and we're giving you new things, other people are ahead of us. So we're trying to play catch up as fast as we can."

Jeff Lindquist, on the focus of Tuesday's practice - "Coach Socha had told us yesterday that typically the first practice back from a split spring ball was kind of a rough one for most teams because you have to kind of get refocused and all that, so I think one thing the team tried to do well today was just operate and not waste a practice. I think we did a pretty good job of seeing what needed to get fixed but also performing decently well."

Darrell Daniels, on fighting the ball when he catches it - "That's been a big emphasis this off-season. I've been on the Jugs machine, staying after throwing with Troy (Williams) and working on getting my hands softer, making more catches."

Jake Eldrenkamp, on how much of a change is it going from Wing-T to a pro-style offense - "Wing-T is a lot of shoulder blocking, really no pass blocking. Going from that to a more pro-style or college-style offense is completely night and day."
Tuesday's Practice Links:
Quick Tuesday Practice Report
Photo Gallery - Second Half of Spring
DawgmanRadio: Second Half of Spring Ball
Tuesday Practice Videos
Chris Petersen Video/Quotes
Jeff Lindquist Video/Quotes
Darrell Daniels Video/Quotes
Jake Eldrenkamp Video/Quotes

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