Dawgbytes - 4/1

With new coaches and players in place, the Washington Huskies took the field on a glorious Thursday afternoon to officially begin their 2004 spring campaign. Changes were all around, and more are sure to come.

Per NCAA rules, the team must practice twice without pads before they can start hitting. "We'll try and go five days with no pads and ten days in pads and maybe one day in what we call 'Husky gear', which is helmets, shoulder pads and shorts," UW head coach Keith Gilbertson said Thursday.

According to Gilbertson, there will be more live tackling, as well as more live action with the quarterbacks, although the schedule for when these 'live' sessions hasn't been worked out yet.

The energy appeared to be quite good as the players worked out the kinks. Gilbertson hoped the solid foundation laid down by the team in the off-season would transfer over to the field in short order.

"We had a really positive experience in the weight room and with our mat drills," he said. "We had a good response with our speed school too. We pushed 'em hard."

Gilbertson also talked a little bit about the off-season gathering of information. "We didn't have anybody come in this winter," he said. "We did exchange film with different people, but no guests." Last spring some coaches from Auburn stopped by Husky Stadium. Gilbertson wasn't sure if any schools would be doing the same this year, as it all depends on scheduling.

All the players that are out for the spring - Rob Meadow, Tusi Sa'au, Joe Toledo, Jason Benn, Dashon Goldson and Joe Lobendahn - worked out in red, while Ben Bandel took his turns as the number-one tight end with Jon Lyon backing him up.

Tyler Ashby was in attendance, watching the work of new line coach Charlie Dickey, as well as former UW center Kyle Benn, who is the Huskies' newest offensive graduate assistant. "All the kids we signed (for the offensive line) just might be bigger than the guys in the program right now," quipped Gilbertson.

Dickey started out with the tackles, while Benn worked out the interior linemen. Khalif Barnes and Ryan Brooks are the number-one tackles, while Clay Walker, Stanley Daniels and Brad Vanneman hold down the number-one guard and center spots, respectively.

Chad Macklin, Tui Alailefaleula, Erik Berglund, Juan Garcia and Brandon Leyritz ran with the twos.

On the defensive line, there could be changes aplenty. "I expect some great battles there," Gilbertson said. "At left end (HUSKY) we've got Donny Mateaki and Mike Mapu. At the other end we've got Ty Eriks and Brandon Ala. And inside we've got Dan Milsten, Jordan Reffett, Casey Tyler, Manase Hopoi and Wilson Afoa."

Gilbertson also mentioned corner and safety as the two other position battles to watch for, but clearly everyone's focus is on quarterback. Gilbertson called it a 'day-to-day' battle, where Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell will all get a shot to prove they belong at the top of the list. "It's going to be exciting to watch and I hope they get a lot out of it too," he said.

Each looked a bit rusty, overthrowing their receivers a few times, but also looked to have improved arm strength and zip on the ball. Stanback, in particular, has a cannon for an arm.

No Nate: Nate Robinson did not show up for practice today, confirming reports that he is going to stick with basketball for the time being. But there's still a change Nate could play, as Gilbertson left the door open to giving the dynamic two-sport star some time off before putting on the pads.

Goodrum's status still uncertain: "We may not know until summer," said Gilbertson when asked about when he would know about Rashaad Goodrum's academic standing. Goodrum is still at Los Angeles Valley College, finishing up requirements before becoming eligible to transfer to Washington.

Special Teams: Charles Frederick, Anthony Russo and Sonny Shackelford were the punt returners Thursday. Tim Galloway and Rob Lewis handled the long snapping chores, while Mike Mapu did the short snapping.

Dawgman.com Top Stories