10/16 Practice Report

The rain came down today at Husky practice as if it were mad at Washington for losing its first game. By the end of practice, it looked like the scene from Forrest Gump when rain was going in every which direction. Bottom line - it was nasty out there.

But rain, wind, hail - just about anything - wouldn't have stopped Cody Pickett from returning to the field today. The tough quarterback began throwing again for the first time since separating his shoulder 10 days ago against USC. And he looked darn good in the process considering the short amount of time it's taken to recover.

The jury is still out as to whether or not he'll be able to return to his starting duties this week, but if today's practice were any indication it'd be hard to keep him off the field.

"I thought he looked great," Husky Head Coach Rick Neuheisel said shortly after practice. "We'll wait and see how he is tomorrow and how sore he might be, but he threw a lot of balls today and looked very sharp. I'm very encouraged."

Asked how his quarterback convinced him to play today, Neuheisel said that he simply kept nagging at him. The team's head trainer, Dave Burton, thought it would be worthwhile to watch Pickett play, so they gave him the okay to return.

The initial results were great.

"Cody really had no visible signs of wincing or pain," Neuheisel said. "We'll just wait and see, but we're encouraged about what we saw today."

"He made not only all of his normal throws, there was one throw that he made today that made me just roll my eyes because I don't even recall him making it when he was completely healthy. It was a fade pass to the far sidelines from the far hash marks. It was a monstrous throw."

Meanwhile, Taylor Barton wore sweat pants and didn't participate in drills today. He's nursing a sore left foot injury that makes it hard for him to plant, and it's uncertain whether he'll be available for Saturday. Also of importance, the team is expecting to get the results back Thursday from the neurological tests Barton took following the UCLA game.

With the health concerns of the first and second string quarterbacks, there remains a chance that true freshman Casey Paus will have to be called upon this weekend in either a starting role or in some sort of reserve capacity. So far, Neuheisel likes what he's seen of the gunslinger from Illinois.

"Casey is certainly getting thrown into the fire of game preparation and all that, so these are great learning experiences for him. While we hope that we can preserve his redshirt year, he's getting closer to the action. And I think he'll play well. If thrown in there, I think he has the moxie to go in there and be a good player."

Today Paus showcased his strong arm, but was somewhat inconsistent with his passes. He had a tendency to throw the ball high and make the receivers have to work a little bit harder than normal, but that all will improve with time. Physically he's already as gifted as they come.

In order to protect the quarterbacks, the team will need a far better performance from the offensive line this week, and for the rest of the season. The starting unit of Todd Bachert, Nick Newton, Kyle Benn, Elliot Zajac, and Khalif Barnes has pretty much been out there every snap this season, while reserves like guard Aaron Butler, center Dan Dicks, and tackles Andre Reeves and Ryan Brooks haven't been able to crack the starting lineup. This could be a make-or-break week for the young line.

"I think there's a lot of competitive guys there," Neuheisel said.

Despite being overmatched last week for the entire game against the rugged Bruin front seven, the Husky head coach says it isn't all their fault.

"The game just got out of hand too early," he said, "and we put them in the worst possible position: pass rushing against an experienced team that knows you're passing." "But there were lots of good things on tape. You take the good things so that we're confident enough to know we can participate and compete at this level and then we learn from the things that we didn't do well. I fully expect them to come back and play great."

Defensively, Omare Lowe had a good day of practice, batting the balls away on many throws. Paus had a tough time getting the ball to receivers with Lowe seemingly everywhere. The senior cornerback nearly had an interception at the sidelines but the ball slipped through his hands.

Terry Johnson returned to the field today after missing the trip to Pasadena and being held out of practice late last week with soreness in one of his knees. Today he looked to be full speed, and easily came in first place when the linemen had to run after practice.

Husky Notes:

In the Red: The 24-yard fake punt run by Omare Lowe last week has been officially changed to a shovel-pass. That changed the Huskies rushing total from 16 yards to -8, the third-worst rushing performance in Washington's history.

Playing in the Dark: The start time for the rescheduled game against Miami has been announced. It will start at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, which will make for a late 8 p.m. kickoff in Miami.

Cisco en la casa: Offensive tackle Francisco Tipoti was in attendance, watching the practice from the stands. He is scheduled to enroll in January.

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