11/13 Practice Report

The Huskies stayed outdoors today in what was by far the wettest practice of the year thus far. Rick Neuheisel stayed true to his plan to practice outside for all home games, but said he may change that slightly come tomorrow.

"If the weather is as advertised tomorrow and it looks if it's going to be dry for the weekend, we'll practice inside for at least a portion of practice," said the head coach.

Regardless of the pouring rain, Neuheisel felt satisfied with the way his team performed today.

"I thought today was a good practice," he said. "We played in the elements, and if forced to on Saturday we'll know what the heck we're doing."

"I think our guys want to play well. There was a lot of flying around (today). During this time of the season you wonder how prudent it is to be real physical in practice with all the kids taking a lot of hits over the year. But our guys were into it so I was pleased."

Tight end Jerramy Stevens, who returned to action last week after missing six games with a broken foot, didn't practice in contact drills today. Instead he went through the conditioning drills and rode a stationary bike on the sidelines.

Of Stevens missing practice, Neuheisel said "His foot was sore. We just gave him day off."

Naturally, it was a tough day for receivers and quarterbacks, who had a hard time connecting with each other due to the dismal weather conditions. Every receiver dropped a pass at one time or another, and some catches-gone-bad led to interceptions by scout team defenders.

One person that benefited from the tipped balls was freshman safety James Sims Jr., who is redshirting this season and hoping to play next year along with fellow freshman safety Evan Benjamin. Sims wore #19 to represent Cougar Lamont Thompson, the "Human Interception," and played like the star safety as well. When the day was said and done, Sims pulled down two interceptions. The first came on a ball intended for Reggie Williams that bounced off his hands, and the second on a similar scenario with tight end Kevin Ware when he couldn't make the catch.

Wilbur Hooks Jr. turned in the catch of practice on leaping grab of high ball thrown from Casey Paus. Hooks didn't have a reception last week, but played incredibly well on special teams and provides the team with added depth at the receiver position.

One player that gave receivers problems today was Sam Cunningham. The coaches hope that Cunningham will develop into the cover-corner of the future, and he's got the tools to do it. The main thing that stands out about "Sam-Bam" is his catch-up speed, which allows him to often recover even when beaten. Next year when Omare Lowe graduates, he'll be a key piece to the secondary that will also include Chris Massey, Roc Alexander, and Derrick Johnson.

Midway through practice, the Huskies got a scare when running back Chris Singleton collided with Taylor Barton on a handoff. One of the two went the same direction and they hit hard, sending Barton to the ground. The junior quarterback got up after a few minutes and returned to action.

The season has flown by, and already the cold November rain is falling with full force. With the 9-1 Cougars coming to town, Neuheisel believes that his Huskies are ready for the battle ahead.

"It's a great game," he said. "We're playing a Top 10 opponent, and it just so happens that we're playing our cross-state rival so I don't see any reason why anyone should come with anything less than 100 percent."

For seniors who never benefited from a redshirt season like Todd Elstrom and Willie Hurst, it will be a chance to stay unbeaten and go 4-0 in their career against Wazzu. One thing is for sure - they'll be bringing 100 percent.
Husky Notes:

Newton Dinged: Guard Nick Newton injured his foot at the tail end of practice and had to leave the field. "The doctors were looking at him," Neuheisel said. They are going to look at him again in the morning. They don't think it's anything too serious."

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