Dawgbytes - 9/17

The biggest news from the Washington football offices Wednesday was that James Sims, Jr., a 6-1, 195-pound safety from Las Vegas, Nevada, was named the 2003 recipient of the Curtis Williams endowed scholarship. The same day Sims was rewarded in the memory of someone who was given a second-chance, it seems somewhat poignant that today also marks Juan Garcia's arrival on campus. Garcia isn't looking for a second chance - he's looking for any chance.

"He's a marvelous kid," Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson said of Garcia, a 6-4, 280-pound freshman lineman from Yakima (Wash.) Eisenhower. "He'll be at practice today, but I doubt he'll do anything. He's still got all of his admissions things he needs to do, but he's got his student ID card and he's here.

"This is all about giving people chances, hope. And Juan is very deserving of that. He's a young guy that's worked his tail off. He's way behind in terms of football, because we've been practicing since August 5th. But for him to be here, be on campus, lifting, going to school and being at the University of Washington should be enough for him right now."

Garcia had been at home in Yakima waiting for academic clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse, and even though it appears there is a loose end or two that need to be settled in the coming days it does appear that Juan will make it in time to enroll September 29th, the first day of the fall quarter.

"My Dad (Keith Sr.) saw Juan when Snohomish played against Eisenhower during one of the summer camps and said that he was the best player he had seen all year," Gilbertson added.

Vandal head coach Tom Cable, who played under Gilbertson when he was offensive coordinator for Idaho and later coached with him at Idaho and California, said earlier in the week he expects the Huskies to run the ball and then run it some more. Gilbertson isn't so sure of that.

"If anything, the one thing we're behind in is the passing game," he said. "Right now we're just average. We threw it and caught it alright against Indiana, but we missed some reads."

He also addressed the issue of improvement from his young group of receivers. "I think Sonny Shackelford and Quintin Daniels have separated themselves a little bit from that group," Gilbertson said. "Bobby Whithorne was probably the one that was around the most and knew the most going into fall camp, but the other players have caught on. And since Bobby's just primarily in the slot, he's not getting as many reps as the other guys."

If Cody Pickett is suffering any ill effects from a torn pectoral muscle, Gilbertson isn't letting on. "Cody's got a live arm right now," he said. "You can tell the time off was good for him. He's got some real zip on the ball, it's been fun to watch him."

The running back rotation hasn't changed from Washington's last game, a 38-13 win over Indiana at home. Gilbertson is still hoping for a 3-1-1 carry ratio between senior Rich Alexis and the two redshirt freshmen, Kenny James and Shelton Sampson. Gilbertson feels the frosh still have some work to do before they can carry the load like the veteran Alexis.

"There are still things, like blitz protection, holding onto the ball, checks, knowing what Cody (Pickett) is doing at all times," Gilbertson said. "It took time for Beno (Bryant), Greg Lewis and Napolean (Kaufman), and it will take time for them.

"Rich (Alexis) is very experienced and has been with Cody for three years now and is playing well."

Gilbertson also said he feels confident that Chris Singleton, a junior RB from Etiwanda, California, will redshirt after suffering a broken foot the Wednesday before the Ohio State opener.

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