Fellow senior WR Todd Elstrom was wearing red today, resting a sore hamstring.
Quarterback Cody Pickett was very sharp this afternoon, throwing several completions that went for long gains or touchdowns. He was finding Jerramy Stevens a good target and threw his prettiest ball of the day for Pat Reddick, who corralled the ball over his shoulder just ahead of cornerback Sam Cunningham for a touchdown.
Stevens made two lovely catches in the flat where he went up high over linebackers. He and Pickett were definitely on the same page today.
Taylor Barton's shining moment came on a heavy rush. He stood in, stepped up and delivered a strike to Paul Arnold who had found some space in all the commotion. It was a third-down situation that moved the sticks.
With Elstrom taking the day off, Paul Arnold and Reggie Williams ran with Pickett on the ones but Pat Reddick had a solid day of practice. "Pat Reddick looked great today," said Neuheisel. "I'm glad he's back, and I hope to get Elstrom and Justin Robbins back very soon. Hopefully they can get back for the scrimmage on Thursday."
Williams and Arnold will be a very difficult one-two combination as Williams has the size and soft hands while Arnold has the sprinter's speed and is elusive in the open field. When Elstrom returns, which should be tomorrow, you're adding a sure handed senior that runs precise routes and can get open. The return of Reddick makes the sea of red jerseys a little more tolerable.
Sophomore Justin Robbins was able to return to the practice field, although he's still wearing red. Neuheisel is hopeful that he'll return very soon, and may even work him some in the scrimmage on Thursday.
Freshman receiver Charles Frederick was a no-show this afternoon, missing his second straight practice. Coach Neuheisel was still hopeful that ET would soon return to the team.
"There's no change. Hopefully I'll get the chance to speak to him this evening," said Neuheisel after practice today. "Obviously I'd hoped that he would return to the team and come back with the idea that ‘I've got a long road ahead of me and it won't accomplish anything by turning back now.' I have my fingers crossed that it will still be the case."
Neuheisel believes that Frederick is at John Anderson's apartment. Since Anderson has just recently moved back, he has no phone so Neuheisel would need to go visit Frederick personally. "I talked to his high school coach today and he told me that he had talked to him," said Neuheisel.
"I'm going to try to get over there tonight and get this cleared up. Eventually a guy has to decide whether he wants to do it or not. It is not an easy thing to do. It takes some fortitude to battle through a football camp when you are a long way from home. I'm hopeful that he'll chose to stay and rejoin his teammates."
On defense the competition is still going for WILL Linebacker, where Marquis Cooper and Ben Mahdavi are battling. It is also still a hot contest for the starting job next to Larry Tripplett with Terry Johnson and Jerome Stevens both playing well. Who starts up front probably won't be important, as Coach Hart will undoubtedly use all three frequently in a rotation.
At SAM linebacker Zach Tuiasosopo was very active, causing a fumble when he hit Cody Pickett on a scramble. Pickett was angered and responded by hitting Arnold with a 20-yard strike on the next play, earning praise from Coach Axman.
At fullback Matthias Wilson had a key block that sprung Willie Hurst for a 24-yard touchdown run. Wilson is still raw but he looks like he's going to get the opportunity to prove he's capable of being the starter. "He's doing some good things. He still has to concentrate on every snap and try to make each play a little bit better than the last one, but he's getting better. We need to accelerate his learning and his improvement, but he's really done some good things to this point. You can't ask for more than that, said running backs coach Tony Alford.
Alford also now has Ken Walker back at fullback. "He gives me another guy in the mix that we feel like we should be able to trust. He's been there in the heat of battle. I'm expecting him to provide some leadership and some knowledge of what's going on. "
Wilson is a faster back but Walker has more experience. Those two are going to get the first crack at Alford's rotation as the bruisers when Michigan comes to town. He also has Braxton Cleman available to play either tailback or fullback.
The first two tailback spots are obviously filled by Willie Hurst and Rich Alexis and the battle continues for the third job. Cleman is one answer but Alford will also give freshman Ty Eriks and Chris Singleton the opportunity to compete for it.
Alford was not ready to say that either freshmen would play for sure. "You never know. You have to understand that the freshmen have only been doing this a week and a half. We'll have to know something coming out of this scrimmage Thursday, and hopefully we'll solidify some things. Both will get good reps and we'll see if either one is ready to go.
"Braxton is a guy we can trust back there, but we'll keep looking at the freshmen. This will all play itself out by the time the first game rolls around. This next scrimmage is important."
Singleton had a nice run down at the goal line this afternoon. With the hole closing fast, the speedster from Etawanda cut back and made Junior Coffin miss. He cut up underneath the linebackers before being tackled just shy of the goal line for an 8-yard gain.
When the third teams faced each other, Defensive End Graham Lassee looked very active. He had a stretch of plays where he got good push and upset the offensive rhythm. MIKE LB Matt Lingley also gave the third team offense a lot of trouble. Of the third team offense, OL Robin Meadow is the one to watch. He's big, pretty mobile, and strong at offensive guard. Coach Brent Myers is very happy with his progress.
"He did such a wonderful job of rehabbing his knee. It was an absolute horrible injury he suffered last year and he's not only back, he's strong. He's doing a lot more than we thought he would do, considering," said Myers of his true freshman.
"Robin is a bull out there."
At 6-5 300 pounds, Meadow already has the Pac-10 body. With Aaron Butler's emergence at guard, perhaps the Huskies will have the luxury of redshirting Meadow along with classmates Brad Vanneman, Willie Kava, and Mike Savicky.
Ellis Dinged: Kai Ellis suffered what Coach Neuheisel called a "ding." He sat out for precautionary reasons. This is the second time that Ellis has had his bell rung and Neuheisel said that they were going to look at adjusting his helmet and keep an eye on him. "Hopefully it won't be something that will keep him from participating. He has no other gear but full speed." Neuheisel said that Ellis appeared fine after practice and didn't exhibit any of the symptoms of a concussion.
Hooks hurt: Junior wide receiver Wilbur Hooks fell awkwardly this morning while catching a pass and suffered a sublexation of his shoulder. "We think that he'll be fine in hopefully a week's time," said Neuheisel. "He's questionable for Michigan." Hooks was on the sidelines in a sling this afternoon.
Tripplett for Prez: Coach Neuheisel lined up his entire team on the north sideline in preparation to run "gassers". He pulled senior Larry Tripplett out of the line and placed him on the 20-yard line. Tripplett was given the opportunity to throw the ball from the 20 and hit the cross bar. If he hit it his teammates would not have to run. Tripplett threw a perfect strike, bouncing perfectly off the middle of the crossbar, sending his teammates into wild hysteria around him. It was a very fitting way to end two-a-days. "He's our emergency quarterback on the road now. Is there any doubt," quipped offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson.
Newell cleared for duty: Finally some good news for the defensive back coaches. Safety Jimmy Newell took of his redshirt and returned to full contact drills this afternoon. "He's been cleared. We didn't want to rush him in too quickly but he got in there to tackle Rich Alexis, which is probably rushing it," joked Neuheisel. "He did a nice job out there and I'm glad to have him back."
Getting His Kicks: PK John Anderson was perfect today, going three for three on field goals including a long of 46-yards. Cody Pickett was his holder, as he was all last year.
Easy Morning: Tomorrow's morning practice is just a walk-through and will only last an hour or so.
Headline: 8-28 PM Practice
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