Dawgman.com Diary - 9/16

After two weeks of time off, I returned to the Don James Center in my never-ending quest to chit-chat with (or annoy) some Husky players while sharing a meal. Sitting at 1-1 and going into their third game of the season, the Dawgs are probably where everyone expected them to be. The players seemed happy to get the bye week out of their system and get back to work, building off of their solid second-half showing against Indiana.

How did most of the players spend their weekend off? The same way I spend my Saturdays in autumn; watching college football.

"Oh yeah. I watched a lot of college football games," said redshirt freshmen linebacker Scott White. "It was the first time we got to sit back and watch other teams are doing.

"I watched a ton of games," White said with a smile. "USC looked pretty good I thought. They won pretty convincingly. I watched Ohio State, MichiganNotre Dame, and Oregon - Arizona. Both teams looked really solid I thought. (Clarence) Farmer looked pretty good there."

Out of all of those teams, there was no doubt who White thought looked the most impressive.

"Michigan is tough, man," added White. "They looked pretty good."

Fully rested, White is ready to get back to work and focus on Idaho. The 6-2, 230-pounder from Lemon Grove, California also watched the Idaho - Boise State game and came away with some keys to help him this week.

"We pretty much treated it like a game week," said White of the bye week. "Practice was pretty much the same. We got a lot of work with a lot of fundamentals and stuff like that.

"We haven't really put in all our stuff for Idaho yet. We're going to start preparation for them this week. We didn't really focus on them last week because we were concentrating on what we needed to do for ourselves. So I'll get my first look at them today."

With the loss of Joe Lobendahn for what appears to be the rest of the season, White will be expected to play a bigger role in the linebacker depth and that is something that suits Scott just fine.

Said White, "It's definitely a great opportunity. I look at is an opportunity to help the team out and win more games and solidify depth at all the linebacker positions and that's what the coaches are asking me to do. Just in case something happens to Tim (Galloway), we won't have a drop-off in play. It's a vital position to our defense and we need to have solid depth at linebacker."

Scott believes that after turning in a promising performance against Indiana, the team took a first step toward re-establishing themselves as a national power.

"I think we can take Ohio State as a learning experience," said White of the team's growth from week to week. "They're the national champions for a reason. I think we learned a lot about ourselves after that game too. So we've got to treat it as a learning experience and try to build on it from week to week."

The weekend off also treated Jimmy Newell kindly.

"The time off was nice," Newell said, cradling his sandwich. "Watched some college football, which we usually don't get to do because we're usually out there being watched. The end of the Ohio State – NC State game was amazing. It was nice to watch them because we played them so recently I can watch them and see what they're doing on both offense and defense from a different point of view. It was a great finish to a great game."

Anyone who thinks Newell watched the game with any regret over what happened in Columbus a few weeks ago is sadly mistaken. Jimmy is not losing any sleep over the loss to the Buckeyes.

"We knew right after the game how much better we could have done," said Newell. "Watching the game didn't make me relive it all over again. I wish we would have played better of course. It would have been a great stage to put on a good performance but we didn't do it and we're ready to move on."

Newell, as well as the rest of the UW secondary, expects to see Idaho quarterback Michael Harrington throw the ball and throw it often. Against Boise State last week, Harrington completed 25 of 50 passes for 273 yards. His completion rate would have been much higher had it not been for a number of dropped passes. Newell knows they'll be tested this coming weekend.

"When you have two weeks to implement a game plan, you go much slower and go over all the things that have been plaguing you during those first two weeks," Newell explained. "We played Idaho every year since I've been here. They've always come out and fought so I expect another tough game for us."

And good news for Newell and Husky fans – he is still healthy. The injury bug that has plagued Newell throughout his career looks to have passed by Jimmy this year (knock on wood).

"I feel good," he said. "Two games into the season, I feel great."

A few feet to the right, Shelton Sampson was sitting with a huge smile on his face. He must have been reminiscing about his two-touchdown day against Indiana.

"It felt so great," said Sampson trying to hold back his laughter. "It was the first time I had got on the field and I just took it and ran for the end zone.

"There weren't any butterflies in my stomach or anything. I think I was just trying to stay relaxed the whole time. Everybody kept me at ease in the huddle so everything was copasetic."

"That was a GREAT handoff," said Cody Pickett who happened to be having lunch right in front of Sampson. "Ask him who gave him the handoff."

During that moment, Sampson felt that he grew as a player by getting his first touches and scores out of the way.

"It was mostly a step-by-step process," Sampson explained. "I try to play the game the same way I practice and that's play the game relaxed.

"We just need to go out there and get better every day. We have a lot to work on, but at the same time we have to make progress and not make the same mistakes twice."

Isaiah Stanback was another player who saw his first action against the Hoosiers and immediately made his presence felt. From being on the punt return team to taking a handoff as a receiver to completing his first pass, Stanback had a memorable debut wearing the purple and gold.

"It felt great to get out there because I was helping out my team," said Stanback. "It's better than standing on the sidelines doing nothing. I told coach that I wanted to get on the field and help out. I wasn't doing any good sitting on the sideline. So whatever I can do to help out my team and as long as I stay at quarterback, I don't care."

Stanback said he expects the game-plan to be similar against the Vandals and is anticipating an even bigger role this week.

He took the weekend off a little differently, playing football, but with a joystick instead of with pads and a helmet.

"I had (John) Madden tournaments over the weekend," Stanback laughed. "I didn't really watch many games. I watched the end of the Ohio State game and some NFL stuff, but that wasn't really much."

As the season progresses, the Garfield High School product hopes to see more action and contribute more to the team. Whether it is lining up beside Pickett to catch one of his passes or sprinting downfield to make a special teams play, anything suits him just fine.

"I feel as if I can contribute anytime on the field and help out," he said. "Obviously I have Cody in front of me and he's a great player so I'm going to have to wait there, but that is the reason I went to the coaches and asked to play anywhere including the special teams."

Overall, the mood was upbeat and the food was great once again at the Don James Center. It truly is amazing how different the atmosphere is following wins and losses. As each week passes and more wins pile up, hopefully I will share more laughs with these Dawgs and look forward to another Saturday of excitement.

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