9/26 Practice Report

After battling severe winds for the first hour of practice today, the Huskies decided to head inside the new Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility for the final two hours. It was the team's first full practice inside their new 80,000 square-foot practice facility.

Dempsey Indoor is equipped with a 100-yard field, so the entire team was able to practice without any problem. The beams overhead that support the roof are high enough that the team still can practice punts and kickoffs without conflict. The rest of practice carries on as normal also, but with a little bit more flair. They are able to utilize such built-in devices as playclocks and horns, and also can adjust the temperature of the complex with the flip of a switch.

The building is truly a gem for the University of Washington. Most all of the UW sports teams will be able to use it in some fashion to escape the elements outside. When the plans were still being developed for the structure, many of the university's coaches gave their own input for what they'd like to see included in the building. They wishes were met. For instance, there are nets at both ends of the football field, and when they drop they have goalposts drawn on them, something the football team wanted. Meanwhile, other sports like volleyball and fastpitch that use lighter colored balls wanted black nets to hit into, and those now can be found at the north end of the building.

Dempsey Indoor will be a place that the football team will always be able to play in if the weather turns sour. Head coach Rick Neuheisel says all he needs is 30 minutes in advance to play in the building. According to the head coach, it takes that long to "get the managers to set up the field and get the video guys set up."

For the second day in a row, Neuheisel said he was pleased with the team's effort. Rich Alexis was back to full speed today after spending Tuesday on the sidelines, and that's a good sign for the depleted backfield. Alexis will have to be the horse at the position until Willie Hurst is ready to return. After him, the position thins out considerably.

Charles Frederick continues to progress and make up for lost time with the tea. He's coming along well and getting more opportunities with the offense. "He's doing a great job," Neuheisel said. "It's a deep position right now, but I think he's doing well."

Justin Robbins will return this week after missing time with a nagging hamstring injury, bolstering a position that is already one of the team's best. It comes at an especially good time since fellow receiver Paul Arnold might have to take snaps at runningback during the next couple weeks while with the loss of Braxton Cleman and Hurst.

In Joe Igber, California has a great tailback of their own, and someone the Huskies could use right now. The short, shifty ball-carrier from Hawaii was on Washington's radar during the 1999 recruiting season, but once Neuheisel took over as head coach the team stopped recruiting him.

Asked whether he had recruited Igber to either Colorado or Washington, Neuheisel said, "No. I wish I had. Joe Igber's a good player."

This week, Igber is coming back from an injury that caused him to sit out the Washington State game. He's the Golden Bears' number one option offensively, and will have to come through with a big game for the home team to have a chance. In each of his first two years at Cal, he's had 100-yard days rushing. He'll be the focus of the Husky defense this week as Washington looks to put the pressure on junior quarterback Kyle Boller to put the ball in the air.

California has been pummelled in all three of their games to date, and getting ahead of them early will be important for Washington come Saturday. Still, Neuheisel is being very cautious after the way the Bears have played the Huskies tough each of the last two years. In each of those contests, it's been the Bears - not the Huskies - who've jumped out to the early lead.

"I don't see any lack of effort from the first to the second half (with California)," Washington's head coach said. "I know their scores have gotten a little bit one-sided (this year), but I think this is a hard-playing team and I think they're excited about playing us. They're looking forward to the challenge of playing Washington, so it should be a good game."

The Bears come into the game (0-3) while the Huskies have played just two games, winning both. Will the one-game difference play a role in preparation for conference play? Are the Huskies ready?

"I think we'll find out more this week if in fact we are," said Neuheisel. "Originally we planned to have three games under our belt right now, but that's not the case. I feel good about our team, and I like the way we've practiced the last two days. I know that both teams are still looking for improvement.

Husky Notes:

Injury Update: Safety Jimmy Newell re-aggravated his shoulder injury yesterday and wore a red jersey today. Asked whether or not the sophomore would play versus Cal, Neuheisel said, "I think so, we're going to wait and see." Jelani Harrison was in street clothes during practice on the sidelines and is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Neuheisel said he's expected to be out another 3-4 weeks. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Junior Coffin broke his finger yesterday, but will be available on Saturday according to the head coach. As for Larry Tripplett and Omare Lowe's minor injuries, Neuheisel said, "Both Larry and Omare did a bunch of individual stuff today and they'll be fine."

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