Practice news and notes - 8/11 PM

The rains at the end of practice Monday morning were indeed a foreshadowing of things to come. The heavens opened up a mini deluge on the purple and gold during their afternoon session, where things got a little testy. The biggest news of the day, however, revolved around Cory Jones.

Jones, the 6-1, 220-pound fullback from Kennedy High School, by way of Notre Dame, decided to walk out of practice Monday morning and has left the team.

"He's a good kid and we wish him well," was all head coach Keith Gilbertson would say about Jones' departure. Zach Tuiasosopo, Ty Eriks and Adam Seery remain the other three fullbacks on the team and Gilbertson said there would not be any moves to fill Cory's spot on the roster.

The offense, a big lethargic for the first half of the afternoon, got a gigantic lift from one of it's leaders, albeit in a roundabout way. Jimmy Newell was engaged with a receiver during a run play, and the whistle sounded. The two kept at it, and Reggie Williams came cruising from the far side and tried to take Newell out.

Chaos ensued. Bodies were piled everywhere, with the coaches, Pete Kaligis and Steve Emtman doing their best to sort things out. Whether Williams was trying to get his team going or not, they responded.

On the next play, Chris Singleton went right up the gut, fueled by the OL's intent on administering their collective will.

The next sequence of plays worth noting involved two of the younger players - Louis Rankin and C.J. Wallace. Wallace, who has a reputation for sticking his head in without hesitation, stuck it into Rankin's chest and put a big stick on the running back from Stockton, California, sending him reeling. The defense went nuts as C.J. jumped for joy. Over on the other side of the ball, a coach was heard saying, 'That's OK 9. You'll get 'em back.'

Get 'em back he did. Rankin rolled through the middle of the Husky defense and pancaked a defender, causing the entire offense to run toward him in celebration before the play was even over. Rankin was vindicated in a big way and his teammates let him know about it.

I don't know if it was the soggy conditions, but the team was on edge this afternoon. On the first takeaway of the 11-11 session, Tim Galloway stepped in front of a receiver to pick off Casey Paus, who did a lot of work with the twos. Center Brad Vanneman wrapped up Galloway and Tim must've taken exception to Vanneman's eagerness to take him down. The two engaged near the sidelines and starting throwing haymakers at each other.

It didn't take too long to get the two separated, but they were definitely not happy with each other. And in another skirmish, albeit a smaller one, Tahj Bomar threw Rankin down to the wet turf, where Rankin showed his apparent unhappiness with Bomar's wrestling move. The rest of the players moved in without much more than some gratuitous shoving.

Offensively, the connection between Cody Pickett and Williams is starting to warm up. They hooked up more than a few times and Williams had a freakish one-hand grab along the sideline that had Clarence Simpson shaking his head. 'Dre' got back at the vets, however, going stride for stride with Charles Frederick and knocking down a sure completion.

At running back, Shelton Sampson showed a lot of shake today, more than I've seen before. But the RB of the day had to be the sophomore, Chris Singleton. Singleton ran with a purpose and with speed, breaking down the secondary on more than one occasion, and making the corner a couple of times too. In fact, the running game showed a real resurgence in the afternoon session when the teams were allowed to get after it a little bit. Fumbles are still an issue with this group, and were exacerbated with the amount of water they had to contend with in the afternoon. If they can hold onto the ball, they'll make an impact.

The team won't truly be 'live' until the scrimmage on Saturday, but Gilbertson hinted that they may try to get some live reps at some point beforehand. He also said that it's still impossible to name a number one and two quarterback and running back and that he needs more work with them before the coaches can come to a determination.

Defensively, Phil Snow and Cornell Jackson are doing everything they can to light a fire under their troops, and it's still very much a work-in-progress for the secondary. They are young and they are working with new coaches, always a tough combination to work with, but the players are giving it 110 percent.

Brandon Ala and Manase Hopoi are going to have to be counted on to help with a pass rush that looks to be hit and miss at this point. Ala has moves inside of moves from his REB spot, while Hopoi is simply a man-child.

The linebacking corps looks very solid from a two-deep perspective. There are six quality guys in Joe Lobendahn, Tim Galloway, Marquis Cooper, Scott White, Greg Carothers and Tyler Krambrink. If they can all remain healthy and get all the reps they can as their respective units, the LB's will be the strength of the Washington defense.

The kicking game is still inconsistent and still anybody's ball-game. Evan Knudson and Michael Braunstein are dueling it out for the placekicking chores, while, Sean Douglas, Isaak Woldeit and Garth Erickson are mano-a-mano-a-mano battling for the starting punting chores come August 30th. As Gilbertson noted, leg strength is not in question. It's consistency.


Notes:
Injury update: Erik Berglund, a true frosh OT from Beaverton, Oregon, got a scare at the end of Monday morning's practice. He experienced shortness of breath, but an afternooon scan came back negative. He is fine and will be back Tuesday. RB Kenny James looked to have tweaked a hamstring, but doesn't appear to be serious at all. He was running fine, but got it wrapped as a precaution. Joe Toledo sat out the afternoon practice with a sore groin, but is also expected back. Mike Mizuha, a frosh walk-on LB from Edmonds, broke his hand but will have it set in a cast and is expected back to full action tomorrow.

Working overtime: Gilbertson also hinted that he'd like to take some time during one of the upcoming practices to work on overtime scenarios.

Tomorrow, tomorrow: With the NCAA changes, there is no daily double practice tomorrow. There is, however, a morning walk-through, then lifting, lunch and then the longer afternoon practice, which starts at 3:15.

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