Scrimmage goes to Dawgs

The Washington running game returned in a big way Friday night during the Huskies' final tune-up before they head to Columbus, Ohio in one week's time. Rich Alexis ran for 105 yards on 10 carries, scoring twice, leading a potent rushing attack that racked up 234 yards on 43 carries overall.

"I think Rich made a couple of nice runs, broke some tackles and made some people miss," Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson said after the scrimmage. "The first run he made was well-blocked. He's had a productive camp. He got in shape and we helped him out a little there. And it's paid off for him. Obviously he's the number one tailback going into next week and he's clearly been the best, I think."

There were a few former purple and gold luminaries watching the action, including ex-players Elliott Zajac, Rock Nelson, Wes Call, Elliott Silvers and Anthony Kelley, and ex-hoopster David Dixon was also seen. Alexis got the offense off to a strong start, going untouched for 36-yards into the end-zone. He quickly followed that up with a 58-yard scamper a couple of series later.

"It felt pretty good to have some big runs and boost my confidence," Alexis said. "I'm just trying to get better every week."

It wasn't too long ago that Rich was mired in depth chart limbo, starting fall camp as the fourth-string back. But he never stopped working. "I have a lot of confidence in myself," he said. "There are a lot of people out there that don't believe in me, so I have to believe in myself. As long as that happens, I can go out there and do good."

Down nearly 10 pounds from last season, Alexis is experiencing a rebirth. "I feel better than I ever have before," he said. "I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm running hard, I feel a lot quicker and feel a lot faster when I get around the corner."

Gilbertson was also quick to praise Kenny James and Shelton Sampson, who combined for 65 yards on 12 carries and a score. Sampson also scored on a 7-yard pass play from the ever elusive Isaiah Stanback.

"Kenny made a nice run and Shelton obviously is capable of making those spectacular runs," Gilbertson said. "For the most part I was pleased.

While Stanback hasn't unseated Casey Paus as Cody Pickett's backup, Gilbertson saw enough tonight to know he wants the former Garfield star to see the field. He went 2-7 for ony 10 yards, but ran 3 times for 39 yards, with a long of 39. Paus was 4-9 for 40 yards and a pick, with starter Cody Pickett was 9-15 for 90 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

"Isaiah has that kind of ability," Gilbertson said. "We'd like to have a 'mini' offense. Casey is more capable of doing the things Cody does, wheras Isaiah has some other skills that we would like to use."

But things weren't all roses for the purple and gold. "The things that concerned me were the first-team defense, which had three pass interference penalties, and the first offense had three major penalties in the first 35-40 plays," Gilbertson said. "And against a team like Ohio State you just can't do that. You're gonna penalize yourself right out of the ballgame, so we need to clean that up. We've got a lot of things to get sharp before we are ready to play.

"We wanted to get the young receivers as much time as we could with Cody and some of them made plays but overall they aren't as far along as we would have liked them to be. Obviously Charles and Reggie are pretty experienced. We just need some of those young guys to jump up and make some plays."

Bobby Whithorne and Reggie Williams led all receivers with 3 grabs each. The true frosh from Santa Margarita, California had 58 yards on his three catches, with a long of 40. Williams went for 24 yards and one touchdown.

Todd Bachert took snaps with the offense as the third team center. "You always want to make sure you want to have three experienced snappers," he said. "You have Dan Dicks, Brad Vanneman and Todd, who has played a whole season at center. So you've got plenty of depth and Cody feels comfortable with all those guys."

Tusi Sa'au hurt his leg early on, but it didn't appear to be serious.

Defensively, Joe Lobendahn led all players with 7 tackles, while Tahj Bomar, Jimmy Newell, Tim Galloway, Kim Taylor and Mike McEvoy all had 5 tackles. Greg Carothers had three tackles for loss, while Lobendahn and Galloway each had two, while Terry Johnson, Manase Hopoi and Wilson Afoa each had a sack.

Roc Alexander, Sam Cunningham, Kyle Trew and James Sims each had an interception for the defense, with Sims going 42 yards on his return.

Special teams, a point of concern for Gilbertson, did little Friday to resolve any position battles. "I thought it was pretty average," he said. "We missed the one field goal we tried to make and the punting was so-so. The kick coverage was good and I felt we did a nice job on returns. Nothing that sticks out.

"(Sean) Douglas has a big leg and if we know he can get it off in time he can really move it. We just have to keep working it and see what happens later in the week. But right now we would go with Garth (Erickson) at punter and Evan (Knudson) at placekicker, unless the competition this coming week clearly mandates that we make a change."

Erickson had 2 punts for a 39-yard average, while Douglas kicked his only official kick 33 yards. For the placekickers, Michael Braunstein made his only attempt, from 31 yards, while Knudson missed his badly from 44.

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