Defense Takes The Day: 8/25 Scrimmage

This afternoon's scrimmage was held in sunny Husky Stadium after the team moved camp from Olympia this morning. Even though legs were heavy, the team went through a very extensive scrimmage, with all the scholarship quarterbacks seeing action and both the offense and defense getting in their shots.

The first series pitted the starting units against each other and it belonged to the offense. Quarterback Cody Pickett moved them from their own 30 all the way into the endzone, as tailback Willie Hurst took a Pickett pitch wide and coasted in for 6. The offensive line, much maligned going into camp for their youth and inexperience looked like veterans. The drive covered 70 yards in six plays and featured four nifty runs by Willie Hurst.

When the second units faced each other the defense came back strong. Tackle Jerome Stevens and cornerback Lenny Haynes factored big to shut down the first team offense to one first down on a great grab by tight end Kevin Ware as three defenders came crashing in on him.

However, the Reggie Williams show was just about to begin. On the first play from scrimmage on the next series, Williams hauled down a Cody Pickett pass for 14 to their own 44-yard line. Cornerback Sam Cunningham was spot on the play but was helpless because of the height of the throw. Then Reggie went wide to make a nice grap from Pickett for a 30-yard reception over Haynes and safety Wondame Davis.

Linebacker Tim Galloway shut down the drive, blowing through the line to stifle Pickett for a 4-yard tackle for loss that put the offense back at the defense's 18-yard line. Eventually, John Anderson was brought on for a 34-yard field goal attempt, which he converted with ease.

The kicking game was VERY solid today, with Anderson going 3-3 on field goal attempts. The attempts were from 34, 49 and 36 yards. The 49 yarder would've been good from 60. Both punters, Jim Skurski and Derek McLaughlin had great statistical days but the hang time could've been much better. The true freshman from Mesa, Arizona had a 51.3-yard average with a long of 60 yards, while the senior from O'Dea High School in Seattle went for a whopping 58.3-yard average. His long was a 68-yarder that Charles Frederick failed to field. Letting it bounce at the 22-yard line turned out to be a terrible decision as the ball wound up rolling all the way down to the 1-yard line.

The return game wasn't too shabby either. Tailback Paul Arnold took a kickoff to the house, bobbing and weaving his way down the north sideline. His return went for 99 yards. Tailback Willie Hurst was solid on punt returns, going for 80 yards on the two kicks he fielded. He took McLaughlin's first effort, a booming 60-yarder, and went 34 yards on the return, ultimately being tackled by quarterback Adam Seery. The next kick he took, a 49-yarder from McLaughlin, he went 46 yards before the punter brought him down.

Willie Hurst led the ground attack with 30 yards on 4 carries. Rich Alexis was next with 29 net yards, while Matthias Wilson has 16 net yards on two rushes, including a great 16-yard run on a belly dive. Head Coach Rick Neuheisel had good things to say about the Ferndale running back.

"I'm excited about what Matthias Wilson did today. He's not there yet but if he keeps playing like he is, he's going to be able to help us a great deal."

Williams had 4 catches for 70 yards, while Paul Arnold had 49 yards on three grabs, including a sweet 30-yard fly pattern for a touchdown from Taylor Barton. Arnold showed his wheels, outrunning another fast corner, RayShon Dukes, to get position. Barton threw a rainbow that couldn't have been prettier.

Barton made a couple of poor throws to offset what was on balance a pretty good day, going 9 for 20 for 132 yards and one touchdown. He was victimized by linebacker Marquis Cooper after Wondame Davis crashed in from the right side and got to Barton's throwing hand. True freshman safety Evan Benjamin also got into the action, making an athletic diving pick on a Barton ball intended for Matthias Wilson. Benjamin has been making steady progress and has done everything the coaches have asked the youngster from Redmond to do so far. Will he play this fall? Don't bet against it.

The third pick was made on an outstanding play by DT Jerome Stevens, who was alert enough to snag a ball that had been batted down at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Matt Lingley. He then rumbled down the field for 10 yards before being caught by guard Aaron Butler.

Pickett had a steadier day, going 6-12 for 62 yards and 1 touchdown. Walk-on Joel Deis had the pass of the game, however, when he found a streaking Matt DeBord for a 58-yard touchdown reception to end the scrimmage.

Defensively, true freshman linebacker Joseph Lobendahn led all players with 8 total tackles and one tackle for loss. The young man from Honolulu is getting very comfortable with his role in the Huskies defense and will play this year. Larry Tripplett commented of Lobendahn, "I'm digging what he's doing, man. He's going to be a great linebacker."

Cornerback Sam Cunningham had an excellent scrimmage and ended up with 7 total tackles and one tackle for loss. Linebacker Tim Galloway showed that he is going be a force in the interior, racking up 6 total stops and two tackles for loss.

Coach Neuheisel singled out linebacker Marquis Cooper for his play inside, where he 4 tackles, one interception and one pass deflection. True freshman REB Manase Hopoi also had a great day, notching two tackles, one for loss, and one forced fumble which he recovered. Hopoi is a partial qualifier and is not eligible to play during the 2001 season, but just like Terry Johnson last year, Husky fans saw a glimpse of someone who could be a great one down the road.


The last laugh: Safety Nick Olszewski levelled receiver Matt DeBord on a sideline route that had the tall lanky WR from Olympia a bit dazed and confused. Later, he got even with Nick O. as he got by him on the last play from scrimmage to haul down a 58-yard toss from Joel Deis for 6.

Rising to the occasion: Four players battling for starting positions earned the praise of Coach Rick Neuheisel. Will Linebacker Marquis Cooper, Fullback Matthias Wilson, Cornerback Sam Cunningham, and Wide Receiver Reggie Williams all were lauded for their work today by the Husky head coach.

D is for Depth: While the ones matched up pretty evenly, it was pretty obvious who had the upper hand when it came time to run with the twos. Except for Barton's great throw to Arnold for 6, the second-team defense completely shut down the second-team offense. DT's Jerome Stevens, Josh Miller and Tui Alailefaleula, REB Zach Tuiasosopo, SAM Houdini Jackson, linebackers Tim Galloway and Marquis Cooper, corner Sam Cunningham and safety Evan Benjamin all came up with big stops at one time or another for the twos. The lack of depth on the offensive line has to be a concern if there are any injuries on the first unit. Aaron Butler looks the most solid of the twos up front. Top Stories