Practice news and notes - 8/18 PM

At the end of a pretty up-tempo practice Monday evening, the Washington football team had a bit of a surprise waiting for them. It wasn't the nice kind, however. The coaches are really hammering home the type of intensity they are expecting from their guys, and this practice was proof-positive.

In another sign that the Keith Gilbertson era at the University of Washington has begun, the team did 'up downs' at the end of three periods of 11-11 action, the last period being one of their 'thud tempo' variety.

"We've got a no-loaf policy, and we've got to live up to it," Gilbertson said. "Your team is going to suffer. It's a team concept."

This team will live and die as a group August 30th, and there's no question the football coaches are trying to instill an 'us versus them' mentality.

Both the offensive and defensive lines have been fortunate to not have been bitten by the injury bug this fall, but that was not the case Monday. Nick Newton and Dan Dicks were both sidelined during the PM session, although it appears neither starter will be out more than a few days.

Backup WIL Scott White was also out with a hamstring injury that will take White out of a couple of days of practice, Gilbertson said. Dash Crutchley missed the PM practice after complaining of shortness of breath.

Justin Robbins continued to work out, running well and doing some basic drills. Even though Gilbertson has said they are shooting for Robbins to make it back by the Stanford game, it's clear he's going to make every attempt to come back sooner than anticipated.

Punt protection and placekicking received some attention today. Kyle Trew took one ball off the foot of Garth Erickson for a clean block. True frosh Sean Douglas also had a bit of a scare when he had to sidestep a defender to get a kick off, but by and large the protection was good enough to get off some booming kicks. Erickson currently holds down the number one spot, followed closely by Douglas.

Mike Mapu took a turn doing the short snapping, along with Jerome Stevens and Jason Benn. Benn also did some long snapping with Owen Biddle.

In the kicking competition, Gilbertson allowed true frosh Michael Braunstein to kick until he missed, from various angles and yardages. He managed at least 5 or 6 in a row before a 47-yarder went wide right. Evan Knudson made all the kicks he tried and still looks to have the number one PK spot in a tight battle with Braunstein.

The meat of Monday night's practice was the final three periods. That's when the offense and defense came together to see just who has been working the hardest and what needs more attention. The final period was when they really got to go after each other, producing some nice plays on both sides of the ball.

Evan Benjamin came up with another interception to go with the one he had in the morning session. He's playing with James Sims and their group is still playing second fiddle to the safety combo of Biddle and Jimmy Newell. CJ Wallace had another impressive day of hitting, as he put a solid lick on Louis Rankin during the 'thud tempo' period. The true frosh from Sacramento is gaining friends and earning respect for his hard-hitting style.

Dan Milsten and Graham Lasee are still battling it out for the number one Husky spot, but don't count out Mapu. The JC DE has the ability to cause problems on the edge when 100 percent in shape.

Offensively, the one major move today was the one made by Adam Seery. Seery got the looks at number one fullback, ahead of Ty Eriks. The coaches, Gilbertson included, liked what the senior from Albuquerque did during Saturday's scrimmage in Olympia, so he was rewarded with a starting spot today. The battle between Adam and Ty will be one to watch and it may not be decided until August 29th.

In my opinion, this may have been the most consistent practice for the quarterbacks. From Cody Pickett to Carl Bonnell, all the signal-callers were making smart decisions and got in a groove finding their receivers.

The same can't necessarily be said for the pass-catchers, however. Outside of Ben Bandel, the TE's struggled with balls thrown to them in stride, and only the veteran WR's seem to play to their potential. Charles Frederick had a nice touchdown grab at the end of practice, as did Jordan Slye.

In the running back battle, Rich Alexis got his first extensive work with the ones and looked good. He scored a touchdown against the number two defense. Chris Singleton and Kenny James got the majority of carries behind the senior from Coral Springs, Florida.

James had one of the bigger RB blunders of the day when starting MIK Joe Lobendahn literally stole the ball away from him on a carry, taking the rock to the house. He'll need to tighten up the fumbleitis if he plans on seeing any significant playing time this fall.

The redshirt frosh from Dos Palos, California did show that he can block effectively, and Singleton also has shown signs of improvement in this area.


Notes:
Dynamic duo: In an encouraging sign, both Josh Miller and Junior Coffin were seen hanging out at practice. It has still been undetermined whether or not both DT's will come back for another year in 2004.

Showing confidence: During punt returns, there were only three players that took turns fielding kicks - Charles Frederick, Sonny Shackelford and Anthony Russo. If Frederick goes down, will UW go to a true frosh to handle punts?

Jailbreak '74: Isaiah Stanback showed Monday night again just how inventive he can be outside the tackles. Going up against the first-team defense, the redshirt frosh from Garfield moved to his left, and while coaches and players were send scrambling out of the play he threw a strike to Bobby Whithorne in the corner of the endzone for 6.

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