10/2 Practice Report

With rare October sun beaming down, the Huskies practiced back in Husky Stadium today after playing through harsh weather last week. Following the scare against Cal, the team returned to the field today looking to focus for the super-talented USC team coming to town this Saturday.

Their performance was good enough to impress head coach Rick Neuheisel.

"I was pleased with the practice today, and you would expect that given the magnitude of the game," Neuheisel said. "I really felt like the guys were into it. I thought there was good movement on both of the scout teams, which is always a good sign. Hopefully we'll come out and give even a better effort tomorrow."

It was a welcome sign to see senior Willie Hurst back on the field today, just ten days after straining his hamstring against Idaho. He appeared to be close to 100 percent, and didn't show any ill-effects from the injury.

"Willie looked terrific," said Neuheisel, but we were a little cautious (with him). We didn't let him finish practice. He said he felt fine and had no twinges. And rather than push it, we decided to err on the side of caution."

If Hurst does manage to play this weekend, he won't be back at punt returner, according to the head coach.

"I don't think we'd put him in that role immediately," he said. "Charles has done a nice job with the exception of the first one."

Rich Alexis was also back on the field today fresh off his strong performance against Cal. He was the workhorse last week for one of the first times in his career, and still managed to avoid the injury bug. He did a nice job reading his line today and used his feet well to get through the holes.

As for who will start at runningback this week, it's still up in the air.

"I haven't made that decision yet," the Husky coach said. "I'm going to watch and see how Willie practices tomorrow, but I think we've got a great one-two punch with Willie and Rich, and also keep Chris Singleton coming along."

The coaches were in rare form today, doing all they could to get their players jacked up for their second conference game. It seemed to work, as the players responded with an upbeat practice.

Two plays stuck out as highlights.

The first came on a play by safety Rod Green. The senior from Texas absolutely laid out Pat Reddick after the senior receiver had caught a pass along the sidelines. The defensive players erupted and knocked heads with Green to show some love.

The second standout play came on a deep ball thrown from Cody Pickett to Reggie Williams. Pickett just dropped back and threw a bomb to Williams, who was two strides ahead of Lenny Haynes and easily made the grab and walked into the endzone.

The freshman from Lakewood, Wash. didn't drop anything thrown his way this week. He's had some difficulty with consistency in his first three weeks, but he looks to be improving with each practice and will once again be trying for his first touchdown against the Trojans.

At yesterday's press conference, Neuheisel mentioned that he might be tweaking the starting lineup for the Trojan game, but didn't expand. Today, he went into further detail.

"I thought that Sam Blanche played really well, and so we're going to let him compete for more playing time with Anthony Kelley," he said. "It's not a knock on Anthony, it's more a reward to Sam. I think we'll divide the reps between Roc Alexander and Chris Massey a little more also."

At fullback, a senior from Hawaii has made strides to get the starting job.

"Ken Walker I think has become the starter," Neuheisel said. "It's not a knock on Mathias. Kenny didn't have a lot of work in fall camp because he was nursing a hamstring. He's just rounding himself into form, and I thought played pretty against Cal. He'll probably start the game against USC and Mathias will play as well."

Neuheisel also mentioned that the team is trying junior walk-on John Schmidt at snapper. Elliot Zajac, a junior guard, had problems with the field goal snaps last week, creating added competition for the job.

"I'll make a decision late in the week as to how we'll proceed there," Neuheisel said.

There's another change as well in the two-deeps. Tackle Andre Reeves is back with the twos after being replaced with freshman Robin Meadow two weeks ago.

"It isn't a demotion for Robin Meadow at all," said Neuheisel. "I just think it's easier on him to focus on school now that school's started and not worry about playing this year. We'll go ahead and try to redshirt him, and see if we can get Andre Reeves going again."

In injury news - incase there isn't enough already - Justin Robbins was back in a redshirt today after tweaking his hamstring again in pregame warmups against Cal.

"We've tried another medicinal approach at treating it," Neuheisel said, "and he will hopefully practice tomorrow and we'll just see how he's doing."
Husky Notes:

Injury update: On Toledo: "His boot is off. He's going to be able to begin running here early next week, and hopefully begin participating a week from then. The hope is to redshirt him given how much time is gone, but stranger things have happened.

On Johnson: "Derrick is working on rehabilitation, and it's going to be a slow process given the significance of the injury. But all signs are great. Our hope is to redshirt him." As for whether or not the foot injury will hurt his speed, the coach had this to say. "You hope that it doesn't, but when you're talking with feet there's a chance that it could. Interesting enough, he had just run a 4.35 forty yard dash approximately 45 seconds before he went over and did that drill where he went down. If we lost a tenth of a second, I'd still say we had a fast guy."

On Krambrink: "He gets the pins removed from his wrist. I think the surgery date is October 12th. Then, after they've taken a look and seen the developments, it's possible that they can cast him then and have him begin play thereafter. How much thereafter remains a doctor's decision."

Should I stay or should I go? Braxton Cleman's broken collarbone will hold him out at least eight weeks, making him unavailable until the season's final games or two. he has yet to utilize a redshirt season. "It's really Braxton's choice. If it was up to me, absolutely, I'd love for him to come because he's got a redshirt year. When guys get to the end of their careers, sometimes they want to move along with their lives. So I'm trying to do a subtle recruiting job."

Chipped Roc: Against the Golden Bears, it was obvious that Roc Alexander was not 100 percent. He was a step slow and had trouble on man coverage, something he's excelled at in the past. Roc's been bothered all year long with a shoulder injury, and that will continue to hamper him all season. At one point during the game in Berkeley, he had to leave the game after getting the back of his calf stepped on. He wasn't in a redshirt today, but he'll clearly be playing through pain for the remainder of the season.

Moses knows: Former Husky runningbacks coach Wayne Moses is now at USC coaching the same position. He worked four years at the UW, and will have inside knowledge about the Huskies that could play a role this week. Neuheisel knows his team will have to throw some kinks into the system this week to avoid such problems.

"He certainly is going to be a great resource for them giving personnel reports," he said. "He's going to know who our guys are and what they're capable of. He'll know at least last year's form of communication, and that's going to cause us to probably change some of it. We're going to have to be real careful with the ways we communicate."

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