From the Locker Room

Washington's defense was stout in the first scrimmage of the fall. After allowing the offense to march 70 yards in 7 plays with surgeon-like precision, the defense buckled down and shut down the offense for the most part when the ones and twos faced each other.

"We weren't too happy about that first series," said Defensive tackle Larry Tripplett in the locker room after the scrimmage. "I think we're going to come together though. We're going to be alright."

Tripplett and his defenders held the offense to 91 total rushing yards on 50 carries and pressured the quarterbacks into only completing 18 of 40 passes and sacked them six times. If it weren't for a 58-yard touchdown pass in garbage time from Joel Deis to Matt DeBord, the passing game was held in check.

A big reason for the offensive numbers being down is the depth on defense. There isn't a lot of drop off between the first and second team defenses. "We're pretty deep, man," Tripplett said. "We've got some freshmen playing well and some older guys that understand the defense better. We should have a nice little rotation going on."

The two guys fighting for the job next to him are Jerome Stevens and Terry Johnson, both of whom impress Tripplett. "It's going to be so nice. It's great to see those guys step up and take on that role of getting ready to play. We're going to need both of them and it will be a nice rotation for all three of us. Jerome can play out or in and so can I. That rotation is basically how we're going to do it."

The defense did have a lot of pressure packages in today but it was extremely vanilla since it was a public scrimmage. "We always want to get pressure on the quarterback and push that pocket as best we can no matter what," Larry said. "We'll have some blitzes to help us do that. We barely scratched the surface on what we can run as a defense today. We ran a lot of basic stuff, and that's OK for our young guys that are trying to get ready to play."

When asked which freshmen impress him the most right now, one number came to mind immediately.

"Joe …. I'm not sure of his last name but he's number 53 in white. He's a freshman linebacker and MY GOD, he's going to be an outstanding linebacker. I really like him. I'm really digging him, man," said Tripplett of Hawaiian freshman Joseph Lobendahn.

He then gave high marks to two others. "You've seen what Reggie (Williams) can do at receiver. Wow. And then there's (cornerback) Sam Cunningham from Westchester High School, my alma mater! He's my boy and he's playing really well for us. Those guys are stepping up and are ready to play."
DC Tim Hundley
 DC Tim Hundley
Defensive Coordinator Tim Hundley was pleasantly surprised that his defense was able to get as many plays in the scrimmage as they did this afternoon.

"What happened was (cornerback) Sam Cunningham was able to play a lot. That was a good thing for us. He has a burst, which is a huge thing for a corner. He has catch up speed and he finds the ball pretty well. We need Sam Cunningham to be ready to play, more so with Derrick Johnson being down," said Hundley.

"Having Sam out there that much was a good thing."

Cunningham had been battling a sore hamstring during fall camp but gutted it out and removed the redshirt during yesterday afternoon's scrimmage and kept if off today. He finished today with 7 tackles, one for loss, and defended Paul Arnold well on a pass to the endzone.

We asked Hundley about the play of Marquis Cooper today. The sophomore WILL linebacker had four tackles and an interception in making his case to become the starter. "I believe he played well. I saw him make a lot of plays. Marquis Cooper is a really good inside linebacker and it will be difficult for us to make some decisions. He's going to push for that starting spot and that's just the way it is," said Hundley.

"He bounces up very well and makes plays. He paces the ball very well and he's always behind the ball tackling inside out. He's really got a good feel for it, probably the closest we have to Derrell Daniels but he's faster than Derrell was. He's a fine football player."

The battle wages on for the spot opposite Larry Tripplett and for the fourth interior defensive lineman. Sophomores Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens are locked in the best battle of the camp while freshmen Josh Miller, Tui Alailefaleula, and Junior Coffin are fighting for the fourth spot. "It's difficult to tell from down on the sideline but tomorrow we'll grade it and figure out how to give us the best two deep up front."

"That's what this scrimmage was really all about. We have a good picture to work with, probably 100 plays from today."
RB Willie Hurst
 RB Willie Hurst
Senior running back Willie Hurst looked cat quick in gaining 30 yards on four carries, all on the first drive which culminated in a 6-yard Hurst touchdown around right end. Hurst is in the best shape of his life and ready to be the leader on offense.

"I think we really clicked on all cylinders on that first drive," Hurst said after the scrimmage was over. "Honestly it surprised me. Coach called the plays and we executed like we were supposed to. Everyone seems to have a big question mark over the offensive linemen's heads and I think they are taking that personal. They've been looking great all camp."

Hurst worked out twice daily this summer in preparation for a big final season at Washington. "The question mark on me has always been my speed and quickness so I really worked on that this summer. I did strength work but I did a lot of things to get my feet quicker."

Hurst's touchdown run was on an option where he beat the corner to the endzone around the end. He looks a step faster this fall and he looks more elusive. "It was a basic option play. Cody pitched it and I had one defender to beat. You have to get the ball into the endzone and that's what I tried to do," said Hurst.

Last season Hurst was the hot back for three games but went down with a broken collarbone and didn't return until the Rose Bowl. He is doing everything he can to make sure that injury doesn't put him on the shelf this season. "I hit the weights hard. I worked out at seven in the morning and then at four in the afternoon all summer. I went through two-a-days in the off season to make sure my body will handle the punishment."

The results are apparent so far this fall. He and fellow tailback Rich Alexis will make a fantastic duo on the ground in 2001 if both can stay healthy.
WR Reggie Williams
 WR Reggie Williams
Freshman Wide Receiver Reggie Williams looked composed in the locker room after his first collegiate scrimmage. He has shot up the depth chart and has made it obvious to those who have watched the Huskies practice that he is one of the top three receivers on this team.

It would be easy for a freshman to be tired after his first week of two-a-days but Williams appears to be still fresh.

Dawgman.com Top Stories