TUESDAY: 8/28 AM Practice report

The Husky football team came out with much more purpose this morning, evidently trying not to repeat the mistakes that plagued them yesterday morning.

While the offensive line did a little better job of pass protection, the active defensive line tests them to the limit as the two front lines prepare for their September 8 matchup with perennial powerhouse Michigan.

Matthias Wilson looks ready to blossom as the starting fullback. Coach Tony Alford made sure he received a lot of reps during a blocking one-on-one drill. Wilson is big enough and certainly strong and fast enough for the rigors of the job. Now he needs to prove that he can lay the crucial blocks when it's game time.

Linebacker Marquis Cooper is really showing his stuff, picking up right where he left off after a stellar performance in the first scrimmage. "He's a lot like Derrell Daniels was for us last year," said linebacker coach Tom Williams. "Except that he's faster. We liked him outside last year but he's right at home inside. There's no chance that he's going to move back," added Williams with a smile.

As Wilson was working hard on the offensive side, defensive end Spencer Marona was getting himself re-aquainted with his buddies on the defensive line. Last year, Marona was asked to play defensive tackle, a position that required him to bulk up to 275 pounds. At his new position, defensive end, he can stay pretty close to his current weight (250 pounds), and still compete for playing time.

"I'm much more comfortable at defensive end," Spencer said after practice. "I can be lighter on my body and don't face as many double teams. There's a little more freedom to do what you can on the pass rush. It's a lot easier on my body, and if I had stayed there all along as a defensive end...my knees and hamstrings couldnt' handle the weight when I was at defensive tackle. As far as weight, down at Evergreen I didn't sweat much of the weight off. So the transfer over here has been OK."

Playing on offense taught Marona to use his hands more, a technique he plans on taking more advantage of on defense. "That was one of my faux pas," he said. "I didn't use them that much on defense before. Now I realize just how much more I'm using my hands and arms."

"Coach Hart said that they'll give me every opportunity (to compete)," Marona said. "If can get in for fifteen plus plays against Michigan, I'll be happy. We'll go from there."

You'd think Spencer would be disappointed in his move, but the junior from Lake Oswego, Oregon has handled it with maturity and class. "Michigan is less than two weeks away, so I don't have time to hang my head and mope," said Marona.

I kind of feel like I'm back home. It's kinda fun."

Both punters, Jim Skurski and Derek McLaughlin, had some monster punts this morning, while cornerback RayShon Dukes took care of the punt return duties. Skurski had one 75-yarder that flew 60 yards in the air, while McLaughlin had a 60-yarder that Dukes caught. They also started working on their coffin-corner coverages, and Derek did extremely well there, as Will Hooks tipped a McLaughlin effort out-of-bounds inside the 5.

REB Kai Ellis still holds down the fort on the defensive line, going sideline to sideline on every play and causing havoc in the backfield. The battle between defensive tackles Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens is still ongoing, with both making big plays on the offensive line.

Quarterbacks Cody Pickett and Taylor Barton were not given any quarter this morning, so they didn't look as good as they did yesterday afternoon. Pressure came from all sides.

Of all the receivers, Reggie Williams and Will Hooks looked the sharpest.

Todd Elstrom was held out of the morning session, as was Rich Alexis. Both were suited up, and Todd had a redshirt on. Both were for precautionary reasons and not serious. Cornerback Roc Alexander still had his red shirt on, but played quite a bit and looks to being ever so close to taking it off.

Notes:

No ET in sight: Everyone was looking around for number 10 in purple this morning, but receiver Charles Frederick was not present. Since UW policy is for coaches to not address the media until the afternoon practice, there is no update on his status for now. Expect word to come when Neuheisel addresses the media tonight.

Unlucky 7: Receiver Will Hooks was having one of his best practices to date when he came down awkwardly on his shoulder while catching a pass on the sidelines. He later returned to practice with his shoulder in ice.

All in the Family: Will Conwell followed in his uncle Ernie's footsteps when he deep-snapped a ball completely out of the end zone during punting drills this morning. Ernie pulled the same gaffe during the 1995 Sun Bowl against Iowa. It was a strange sight to behold, however, as the true freshman linebacker from Kent has been absolutely rock solid up to that point. There hadn't been a botched snap all camp.

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