8/12 PM Practice Report

The University of Washington football team opened up fall camp Thursday afternoon under hot conditions in Seattle, but the UW coaches had no intention of letting the team ease back into their surroundings. Tempo was high as were the mistakes you would normally see from an initial workout. Missed passes and blown catches were all a part of the opening day festivities, but nobody was 'loafing' this day.

Because of the new NCAA acclimatization process, the Huskies limited their workout to two hours in 'lightbulbs' - meaning shorts, shells and helmets. The team, who did conditioning tests Thursday morning, will do more conditioning tests Friday morning, and another light workout that afternoon. Then they will practice Saturday morning before Picture Day at Husky Stadium. Entrance and parking for fans is free for Picture Day.

Tempo was emphasized early, as the team worked on getting out of the huddle and set at the line of scrimmage before stretching began. The new UW football captains - Charles Frederick, Zach Tuiasosopo, Khalif Barnes, Joe Lobendahn and Derrick Johnson - got things started during 'Husky Jacks', and then it was off to work.

It was a welcome sight to only see one redshirt in the house - Juan Garcia. The sophomore from Yakima will not see action until the end of September at the earliest, but he didn't seem too hobbled by his spring leg injuries. He did do some snapping during afternoon 7-7 drills and tried to stay involved whenever possible.

The familiar barking of Receivers Coach Steve Axman echoed throughout Montlake, more than he would have liked to. The sound of footballs hitting the turf was noticeable, as quarterbacks and pass-catchers too-often missed their connections.

Here's a quick position-by-position look at who was where:

Quarterback: Of the QB's, redshirt frosh Carl Bonnell probably had the best workout of the four QB's practicing Thursday, showing a big arm. There's no question the battle between Bonnell, Casey Paus and Isaiah Stanback is going to be intense.

Running back: All the running backs were running well Thursday. Frosh Johnie Kirton didn't not look too hampered by a staph infection to his leg, sustained at the East-West All-Star game. Nevertheless, the trainers want to bring him along a little slower than the rest because he didn't get an opportunity to really work out at the end of the summer.

Receiver: Strength in numbers, but outside of Frederick - who looks as cat-quick as ever - there wasn't another WR that looked ready to go. Husky Head Coach Keith Gilbertson noted Bobby Whithorne and Frederick as the two receivers that impressed him during the morning conditioning session. Anthony Russo is another player that looks to be ready to go, and was also back returning punts with ET and Sonny Shackelford.

Tight End: Again, lots of potential, but nothing really outstanding today. It was a real treat to see Joe Toledo out there and running pain-free. The redshirt-junior from Encinitas, California has suffered through a painful lower-back condition, but looks to be one-hundred percent coming back. He's 6-6 and 288 pounds, a very imposing figure on the end.

Offensive Line: As with Toledo, seeing Rob Meadow and Tusi Sa'au out there and running without red was very encouraging. Meadow, a redshirt junior from San Francisco, spent time at tackle, backing up Ryan Brooks. Barnes and Chad Macklin handled the other tackle spot.

At one guard position, Stanley Daniels and Sa'au held down one side, while Clay Walker and Erik Berglund held down the other side. Brad Vanneman and Brandon Leyritz took turns at center. Leyritz, a 6-3, 310-pound junior walk-on from Eastside Catholic, is making a strong bid for playing time behind Vanneman.

Defensive line: This line will get jumbled up as fall camp progresses. Manase Hopoi has been moved outside to end because there hasn't been another player that's stepped up and taken the position. Manase is 291 pounds right now and looking tough. Look for Mike Mapu to step up his play as the Huskies really need an edge presence, especially after the loss of JUCO DE Rashaad Goodrum.

At the REB, Ty Eriks and Brandon Ala are once again locked in battle for that position. Both looked to be in excellent shape and watching them will be a lot of fun this fall. Another wrinkle in this position battle is the emergence of a couple of incoming freshman - Greyson Gunheim and Caesar Rayford. With both players around 6-6 to 6-7 and anywhere from 230 to 240 pounds, both possess uncanny speed for their size, as well as pure athleticism. If they can ramp up their learning curve, both just might enter the fray with Eriks and Ala.

On the interior, there are all sorts of possibilities. Donny Mateaki, Casey Tyler, Dan Milsten, Jordan Reffett, Wilson Afoa are players that all saw considerable time during the spring. Add in frosh behemoth Jordan White-Frisbee - all 325 pounds of him - and you've got a myriad of combinations that DL Coach Randy Hart will play with until he gets what he wants. Another frosh - Erick Lobos - is also a very large human at 290 pounds and has a body that is ready now. He just needs to get comfortable with the sytem.

Linebacker: With new LB Coach Chris Tormey reprising his role as a Husky position coach, expect good things from this experienced crew. At the weakside inside linebacker position (WIL), converted safety Evan Benjamin holds that spot down, and looks to have a hammer-lock on it. Tahj Bomar and Trenton Tuiasosopo will be backing Evan up this fall.

For the strongside inside linebacker position (MIK), expect a battle to brew all camp long between Tim Galloway and a healthy Joe Lobendahn. Joe has been given the job, but Galloway - a possible starter in his own right - will push Lobendahn tooth and nail. Joe says his knee, injured during last year's game against Indiana, is back to '110 percent'. Watching him Thursday, there doesn't seem to be any lingering effects.

The last position, the strongside outside linebacker (SAM), Scott White and Kyle Trew handle the two-deeps. Two freshmen, Walt Winter and Daniel Howell, will back them up. White is set for a breakout year and Trew has been working out like a madman and ready to take that next step up in his development, according to Tormey. The future looks bright at this position.

Safety: The Huskies should be a lot stronger up the middle this year, especially at safety. Senior Jimmy Newell has one more year of experience under his belt and was running around Thursday like a man who owned the place. Sophomore JC transfer Dashon Goldson was right there with him, step-for-step, and it was good to see Dashon healthy from his shoulder injury and ready to compete. What's nicer is to have a backup tandem of CJ Wallace and Chris Hemphill, eager to get their shot with the number-ones.

Cornerback: Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham are on a mission. Derrick's a rock-solid 192 and Sam has gained 15 pounds from last year, tipping the scales now in the mid 180's. He looks strong and played hard Thursday, displaying his trademark fiery competitiveness. 'Dre Simpson and Matt Fountaine have the twos well in hand, but also look for Josh Okoebor and Cody Ellis to push them for time. Darin Harris was a frosh singled out by Gilbertson as a player that might surprise some people this fall. The Decatur High School product has always had a thick build, but now he really looks to have a mature body. If his head can catch up with that body - watch out.

Special Teams: Quite a bit of time was spent on punting and placekicking Thursday. Sean Douglas was working on his coffin kicks, regularly hitting his spot within the ten-yard line. Tim Galloway was his long-snapper, followed up by Rob Lewis and Mike Gottlieb. Mike Mapu was the short snapper for the placekickers, backed up by Jason Benn and Jens Jellen.

As it was last season, the placekicking job is open. Senior walk-on Evan Knudson is the number-one guy, but he'll be pushed hard by redshirt frosh Mike Braunstein. Both showed no problems with leg strength, but Gilbertson is looking for one guy to blow the other out of the water. Will it happen?


Notes:
Homecoming Idol: Former UW OL Matt Rogers, a contestant on 'American Idol', will be a featured performer during halftime of UW's homecoming game against Arizona.

No Bull 'til Friday: Frosh OL Casey Bulyca was cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, so he showed up for Thursday's afternoon practice, but did not participate. He will officially start practice tomorrow.

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