Practice news and notes - 8/7

For those true freshmen from Southern California, Thursday's afternoon practice at Washington must have felt like home. With scorching temps beating down on the Husky Stadium field turf, the Husky coaches picked up the pace from yesterday, giving no quarter to those out of shape. And paying close attention to the proceedings was former UW head coach Jim Lambright.

Redshirt sophomore Evan Benjamin and true frosh Charles Smith wore red today, the first red of camp. Smith had 8 stitches put in his hand Wednesday after trying to catch a hotly-thrown ball, while Benjamin was held out after passing his conditioning tests.

The change in tempo was noticeable Thursday, both in the individual drills and also when the offense and defense got together. The offensive line got a taste of things to come, courtesy of OL coach Dan Cozzetto. Cozzetto had drills going left and right in series, creating a quick flow and a sense of urgency. And whether the team was doing skeleton drills or full line drills the coaches were quick to get on players to make sure they were ready to go immediately after a play was over.

In the past it seemed as if there was a conscious effort to get it right, even if it took a few seconds to sort it out. Now, there appears to be an attempt to organize well before the play and then make the decisions on the fly with on-the-field communication.

Another noticeable change was in conditioning. Keith Gilbertson and crew had the team do some conditioning at the end of practice tonight, running the length of the field multiple times, something not seen in a few years.

The defense usually looks sharper during the early fall practices, and this one was no different. SAM Greg Carothers and cornerback Roc Alexander both got picks this afternoon.

Carothers appears to be on his game early. The senior from Helena, Montana, has not missed a step in moving up from his normal strong safety position.

Reggie Williams, Corey Williams, Sonny Shackelford and Bobby Whithorne all had nice catches at one point or another during the day.

Williams, Shackelford, Charles Frederick, Scott Ballew, Anthony Russo and Clarence Simpson were all tried their hand at returning punts. Sean Douglas, expected to be the starting punter at Ohio State August 30th, can really boot the ball but has a very low trajectory to his kicks. He's a one-step kicker, much like Derek McLaughlin.

Evan Knudson and Michael Braunstein looked very similar today, giving the appearance that the placekicking job may not be a shoe-in for the true frosh from Gilbert, Arizona. Having two strong placekickers will be a comfort to Gilbertson, but one will have to step up with a flawless result to wrestle the job away for good.

Jason Benn, Tim Galloway, Andy Heater and Owen Biddle worked at long-snapping, with Benn and Galloway leading the way.

Again, since the practice was in shirts and shorts, the linemen work more on technique and are chomping at the bit to get some hitting in. One could glimpse into the future when watching Stanley Daniels and Clay Walker had at it. Brandon Ala also had a couple of nice rushes around end, but little can be surmised about the trench work until some pads get popped.


Notes:
Cherry Garcia: Juan Garcia was at practice today, wearing civilian clothes and taking in the action. His appearance today could signal that the Clearinghouse is close to a decision in his case, but that's just a hunch.

Recruits in the house: A bunch of Washington commits and other recruits showed up today to bask in the sunshine and see some college football. Those in attendance included Casey Bulyca (Woodinville), Tyler Ashby (Ballard), Ryan Bush (Rogers), Jordan White-Frisbee (Inglemoor), Keauntea Bankhead (Ballard), Darin Harris (Decatur), Mitch Reffett (Moses Lake), Alan Darlin (Laguna Creek), Phil Hayes (O'Dea) and Kyle Eriks (O'Dea).

Tyler switches lines: Casey Tyler a true freshman from Edmonds, Washington, moved from tight end to defensive end Thursday. That was the only position switch of the day.

Snow Blind: Husky DB's coach Phil Snow is already giving his frosh a taste of how things are done at Washington. Derrick Bradley and Cody Ellis were seen after practice doing extra 'up-downs' after their normal conditioning was over.

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