8/30 Scrimmage Report

Zach Tuiasosopo's defensive line dominance, Cody Pickett's passing, and the return of receiver Charles 'ET' Frederick were today's highlights.

The true freshman from Lake Worth, Florida returned three punts for 44 yards and one kickoff for 29, also racking up one catch for 20 yards from true freshman quarterback Casey Paus. The highlight for Charles was a dazzling 38-yard punt return that he almost took the distance. Freshman punter Derek McLaughlin boomed a 58-yarder and Frederick put a scare into the coverage team.

"It's great to see him back out here," said kicker John Anderson, a former teammate of Frederick at Pope John Paul II High School and current Husky teammate.

"I'm really glad and I think he made the right choice to come back out. The past two days, he's been telling me, 'John, I want to go out to practice,' and I was thinking 'Thank God!', so I got him in my truck and took him out to practice. I was really glad to see him out there. He played well. He has to learn the offense a little more, but it was good to see him back."

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel echoed Anderson's sentiments. "We're excited Charles is back," he said. "Obviously we spent a lot of time and investment trying to recruit him here. And young people go through ups and downs emotionally, especially when they are 3000 miles away from home. It's not unprecedented that someone has had this kind of homesickness, and it's a little unusual that it's getting this much attention. But the bottom line is, he handled it, he apologized to the team and the team welcomed him with open arms. We've got good kids that way. I'm encouraged that we're on the right path and we'll hopefully get him over the hump."

Neuheisel emphasized that Charles needed time to come to his decision, and it was important that he was given time to sort things out for himself. "Part of recruiting, and I guess you could call this a 'recruiting effort', is giving them your pitch, giving them the reasons why you think it's a good move, and then letting them think about it. If you bombard or smother them, you don't give them a chance to be with their own thoughts. This was a decision he made on his own. Obviously there were a lot of people that encouraged him. There was really nobody pushing him to go home. This is a faraway land for him right now, and I'm just thankful that he's made, what I think, is a great decision. It looked like the old attitude was back as far as his effort on the field today. I'm encouraged."

Another person encouraged with Frederick's decision was tailback Rich Alexis, Charles' best friend. Rich was one of the people Charles confided in when checking out his options.

"We talked about the easy way, the hard way and the right way," Alexis said after the scrimmage this evening. "We broke it down into categories. He listened to us, and he's really coming around right now. I'm happy, because he's showing me that he's growing up a little bit by making a mature decision and by apologizing to the team. I'm happy for him and I just hope that he stays on the right path."

Rich knows the hardest stretch for Charles lies just in front of him. He knows because he experienced it himself. "It's not going to be easy for him now, just because he came back," Alexis said. "He's still going to have times where he's going to feel like, 'Oh yeah, I don't want to be here. I want to go home.' That's when we all need to come together and pick him up. My teammates show him that they love him and care about him, and he should know that everyone here cares for him. If he needs somebody to talk to, he can talk to anybody on this team, not just John and me. So we're going to be there for him to help him work through whatever it is, if it's homesickness or whatever he's going through."

With Frederick's triumphant return and the reps that he received returning punts, Neuheisel wants to see just how much Charles can help them out this year. "It's a long season," he said. "He showed that he's capable of helping us today, and we'll figure out exactly how. We'll find roles. A year ago, we were doing the same thing with Rich Alexis. We started out just wanting him to get a little taste, and the next thing we knew he went 50 yards against Miami. People can burst onto the scene, it's not exactly an unprecedented feat."

When it came to discuss the scrimmage itself, Neuheisel was guardedly optimistic.

"Certainly there's a lot to be done. That's what you would expect when you are playing with a lot of inexperienced players. But we're growing every time we put ourselves in game-type situations, and we're going to view the tape and see that a lot of kids are improving. So I'm encouraged, and yet, as I count the days, there's a lot to be done if we are to play proficiently in our first game."

Neuheisel added, "It's difficult to assess without watching the tape, but I saw a lot of good things. We also had a couple of injuries, but those shouldn't keep our guys out of the game, which is encouraging. The early reports are that everyone's fine."

There were some definite highlight performances, led by the man from Seattle, junior receiver Paul Arnold. Not only did Paul top the receiving corps with 5 catches for 101 yards, but he also returned a kickoff 95 yards for another score.

"Paul has had a tremendous camp," Neuheisel said. "It's wonderful to see a young man take a new position and look at it as an opportunity and to grow as fast as he's grown. We're expecting big things from him. I can't say enough about Paul Arnold."

Defensively, LB Zach Tuiasosopo ripped through the UW front line for 7 total tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Neuheisel was very pleased with the freshman from Woodinville, acknowledging that he is just one of a handful of the younger, more inexperienced players who are benefiting from more repetitions.

"Zach played well," said Neuheisel. "When these kids come out that haven't played a lot, they are going to get better. Our mission in the preseason is to improve every week and get to that September 29th game (@ CAL) feeling good about ourselves."

Tuiasosopo was able to get those extra reps because the number one REB, junior Kai Ellis, was again held out for precautionary reasons due to headaches. "Kai saw the doctor and was given a clean bill of health. We held him out today because we know what he's capable of, and didn't feel like it was prudent to put him in with a lot of contact today, but he'll be ready to go one-hundred miles an hour on Sunday and we expect him to have a great season."

Neuheisel also alluded to the fact that the trainers are also looking at Kai's helmet situation to see if there's anything that can be done to alleviate Ellis' problems. "We're testing those things to see if we can stop it from happening, but there's no damage, and we went to specialists in the area to make sure that he wasn't in any danger."

One thing Neuheisel was willing to address was the quarterback situation and appears very confident with both Cody Pickett and Taylor Barton. "Cody Pickett will start the game, but I thought Taylor Barton played well today. I'm not one that likes to determine before a game how much someone is going to play and when a second will go in, but I feel very comfortable that both will lead us to victory."

The sophomore from Caldwell, Idaho continued to impress, going 10 of 16 for 170 yards and two touchdowns this afternoon. Pickett has gone all fall without an interception thrown. When the offensive line gave him ample protection, Pickett had his way, throwing for big gains to both Arnold and Justin Robbins. Robbins sold out and made a terrific catch while fully laid out despite tight coverage from RayShon Dukes.

Reggie Williams caught one ball, good for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Safety Wondame Davis has been healthy all fall and is making a very strong bid for the number one safety spot opposite Greg Carothers. His four tackles today helped his cause.

Sophomore Marquis Cooper continued his outstanding fall, racking up 6 tackles and one tackle for loss. The big presence on the defensive line today was sophomore DT Jerome Stevens. The big man from Oxnard, California tallied of five total tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack.

Notes:

M.A.S.H.: There were three injuries today, but none of them were serious. Cornerback Sam Cunningham had a minor hip injury, while safety Owen Biddle had a 'little ding to his head,' as described by Neuheisel. Linebacker Marquis Cooper suffered what was reported as a slightly sprained MCL. "If there's a good knee injury to have, this would be the one," said Neuheisel. Todd Elstom (hamstring), Kai Ellis (headaches), Will Hooks (shoulder), and cornerback Chris Massey (groin) held out for precautionary reasons. All but Hooks are expected to play against Michigan.

Perfect no more: Junior PK John Anderson had been perfect this fall going into this scrimmage, but went 3-5, with misses from 45 and 29 yards. In fact, the 45-yarder looked right on the money until it hit the right crossbar. His makes were from 20, 37 and 30 yards.

Flying pigskin: Both punters, Jim Skurski and Derek McLaughlin had very good days again, as McLaughlin punted 3 times for a 53.0 yard average, and Skurski kicked twice for a 46.0 yard average.

Runbacks Galore: Before Paul Arnold's 95-yard runback, cornerback Roc Alexander ran one back from 98 that was called back for a holding penalty.

Two days off: With picture day tomorrow evening and the Huskies taking Saturday off, the team will enjoy two non-contact days of rest before beginning their game week preparations for Michigan on Sunday.

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