Practice news and notes - 8/21

Watching the Washington football team Thursday afternoon, you would have thought they were in preparations for a Saturday D1 slugfest against Ohio State. Even while the battle royale with the Buckeyes is still over a week away, the team is already getting into game-week mode.

Typically on Thursday, the focus would be on special teams and getting things organized in every facet of the game, and this Thursday was no exception.

Charles Frederick, Scott White, Jon Lyon and Nick Newton were the main players stuck in red Thursday. All the other players that were in red Wednesday, including Reggie Williams, Kenny James, Clayton Walker and Jerome Stevens, were all available for action.

The team practiced in hot conditions without pads and with a brisk tempo, but Husky head coach Keith Gilbertson promised the tempo to jump up another notch during Friday's closed scrimmage.

The first few periods were all Scott Pelleur. The newest Husky coach and special teams coordinator worked on all phases of the kicking and punting games. Garth Erickson and Sean Douglas are neck and neck dueling over the number-one punting spot, while Evan Knudson and Michael Braunstein continue to duke it out for lead placekicking chores.

Pelleur had the punters kick from their own one-yard line. Erickson's first kick went to the other team's 42-yard line, an impressive kick. Douglas couldn't handle a high snap on his first effort, resulting in a safety. On his second kick, he was able to cleanly field the ball and get off a very nice boot, clear to the opposition's 40-yard line.

There's no question both punters have the leg to root the ball, and their performances Friday will go a long ways toward determining who will be kicking on the 30th.

Jason Benn and Mike Mapu are the short snappers, while Tim Galloway, Owen Biddle and Benn are working on the long snapping.

On the kickoff returns, Roc Alexander and Derrick Johnson took the lead return group, while Sonny Shackelford, Frederick and Scott Ballew were also back there. Frederick didn't run today, so Shackelford and Anthony Russo got the reps at punt return.

As far as kickoffs, Braunstein has showed he has the leg to put the ball in the endzone, putting a couple at least a few yards deep.

The rest of the practice saw the team work their number one and number two teams and getting plays and schemes in with precision.


Notes:
Return of Ed: Ed Cunningham was at Husky Stadium today watching the team go through their paces.

Game on: When asked if Friday's scrimmage would be more like a game, Gilbertson said that it was going to be exactly a game, with four periods, clock, referees and everything else but marching band and fans.

J-Rob running strong: Justin Robbins continued to work on his own rehabilitation, running on the side field and catching bombs thrown to him. The RS junior from Olympia looks fantastic right now and appears to be right on schedule for a mid-season return.

Money!: At the end of practice, the team had the two kickers go for game-winning boots. Both kicks were from roughly 42-45 yards. Braunstein nailed his, while Knudson missed.

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