Practice news and notes - 8/19

Keith Gilbertson joked when he was hired at Washington's head football coach that he would bring back the tower that was a hallmark of the Don James era. Well, Gilby has put his own twist on the 'tower', as he was seen high above the action Tuesday night in a camera well. From his perch, he checked out roughly two-and-a-half hours of practice, including three 11-11 periods.

Dan Dicks and Nick Newton came back to the starting offensive line, but Khalif Barnes donned red in their place. Barnes twisted his ankle Monday, but Gilbertson said the starting weak tackle should be back in action Wednesday. Scott White was the other major player in red Monday, and Gilbertson said yesterday that he should be back very soon.

The Dawgs had a bit of a scare during the first period of 11-11 play when DT Jerome Stevens came off the field with a limp. TE Jon Lyon also went into the tunnel during practice, under his own power, but didn't return. The status of these two players is unknown.

Michael Braunstein got a chance to show off his leg this afternoon, as one full period was dedicated to watching him kick from various angles and distances. The true frosh from Gilbert, Arizona missed only twice, once from short range and one from 53 yards.

With Stevens out, Jason Benn and Mike Mapu took over the short snapping duties and Mapu looks to be the one best-suited for the job. He gets the ball back to the holder in a hurry.

The defensive backs are continuing to progress, with Roc Alexander and Derrick Johnson manning the ones, Matt Fountaine and Sam Cunningham the twos, and senior Chris Massey doing duty at nickel back. Massey had a sweet pick during the one-on-ones, as did Cunningham and Cody Ellis. On the offensive side, Reggie Williams showed his brute strength, taking on Kim Taylor, muscling up for the grab and then using his momentum to take him going backwards into the endzone.

During the skeleton drills, Corey Williams and Bobby Whithorne had perhaps the best workout of the young receivers, and Sonny Shackelford really struggled to hold onto the ball for the first time all fall.

It was great seeing Joe Toledo and Ben Bandel go 100 percent again, and it's clear they are running one and two respectively at tight end. Both are prototypical big pass-catchers that can also block off the end.

Dicks and Brad Vanneman continued to battle for the starting center job, with Dicks getting the majority of snaps. Ryan Brooks had lots of reps today with Barnes out and absolutely blew up WIL Marquis Cooper on one play during the 11-11 drills. It looks like the RS junior from Richland is really starting to get it and should be a valuable backup for Dan Cozzetto.

Rich Alexis, Chris Singleton and Kenny James are starting to distance themselves from Shelton Sampson and Scott Ballew in the race for the number one running back spot. Sampson is still trying to catch up from losing time at TESC dealing with migraine headaches.

And at QB, the pecking order has become quite clear - Cody Pickett, Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell. The RS soph from New Lenox, Illinois is brimming with confidence and he is moving the number two team consistently and with smart decision-making.

Many Husky fans attended the Husky Band Foundation's 'sneak peak' in the Don James Center during practice, and were watching practice intently from the Tyee section. When a sure touchdown throw from Paus to Shackelford came up incomplete, the groans were audible. The true frosh from Beverly Hills definitely struggled to find his rhythm, but Paus wasn't to blame for that. All of Casey's throws were on the money.

Defensively, Tuesday marked the first time Cornell Jackson switched up the safety spots, having Evan Benjamin and Jimmy Newell run with the ones, with Owen Biddle and James Sims going with the twos. Benjamin knows how to get his nose into things close to the line of scrimmage, while Newell roams the secondary from his free safety spot.

Tahj Bomar spent his second-straight day as the number two WIL behind Cooper, and flattened Chris Singleton during a 'thud tempo' period. Bomar and Kyle Trew are getting lots of reps already at LB and seem to be getting the hang of things with their 'on-the-job' training.

As it has been for the past few days, Dan Milsten and Graham Lasee are duking it out for the number one Husky spot, but don't count out Mapu. He continues to make strides and shows a strong pass rush presence. All that is holding him back at this point is his condidtioning.

In the house: Don and Carol James, Wes Call, Junior Coffin and Josh Miller were all in attendance today.

Injury update: Dash Crutchley was back in action today too, while Josiah Wilfong and Ben Warren continued to wear red. Justin Robbins was running really well on the sidelines in full pads, but has yet to be cleared to practice with the rest of the receivers.

Number jumble: There were some number changes today. Carl Bonnell went from 11 to 12, Bobby Whithorne from 85 to 90, Craig Chambers from 88 to 93 and Charles Smith from 6 to 13. Walk-on linebacker Brian Tawney went from 11 to 45. Scott White was out with an injury, but when he does return he'll be wearing 7 instead of the 5 he has been wearing. Sam Cunningham is the number 5 on defense.

Teamwork: During the practice-ending sprints, it was clear the players would do just about anything to spare themselves from additional running. Mike Mapu was dragging at the end of his runs, so Derrick Johnson ran along with him, yelling encouragement. Johnson was followed on Mapu's last run by Evan Benjamin, who ran the width of the field with Mapu to make sure he came in under the alloted time. Mike made it. Top Stories