8/21 AM Practice Report

On a day that looked a lot more like late October instead of late August the Dawgs continued the training camp at The Evergreen State College Saturday morning. Head coach Keith Gilbertson expressed some displeasure with the effort in practice and singled out the offense for a lethargic effort.

"This morning was probably the most mistakes that the offensive group has had, so I am a little disappointed in that," he said.

While many consider the quarterback competition to be the most pivotal battle on the field, an interesting position to keep an eye on is the second wide receiver spot, opposite Charles Frederick.

Frederick was in a boot for the fourth straight day and several receivers had solid days.

Second-year WR's Corey Williams, Bobby Withorne and Craig Chambers each had nice catches, with Williams making two excellent grabs. Williams caught a pass from Isaiah Stanback between CB Sam Cunningham and S Jimmy Newell for a 30-yard gain and later went up for a jump ball over CB Sam Cunningham, turned upfield and outraced S Dashon Goldson to the endzone.

WR Anthony Russo continues to impress, continually beating his man off the line and getting open wherever there's a soft spot in the defense.

One player who is continuing to struggle with a case of the "dropsies" is Sonny Shackelford. Several passes thrown to him fell to the ground after hitting him in the hands, and that drew the ire of wide receivers coach Steve Axman. Following practice Axman ran pass-catching drills with Shackelford getting him to work on spotting the ball more and getting his hands in the right position.

As for the quarterbacks, Stanback continues to impress with his decision-making skills. The light appears to be coming on with the third-year QB from Garfield and his playmaking skills were apparent in the 11-on-11 drills.

Junior Casey Paus also showed why many think he will be the starter when the regular season kicks off on September 5th against Fresno State. On a play that appeared to break down, Paus kept his coo,l moved laterally to avoid a "sack" and hit FB James Sims for a nice gain. His knowledge of the system is really what separates him from the other two competitors.

Carl Bonnell made some nice throws, including a nice pass to TE Dash Crutchley, but he appears to be swimming in the new offense just trying to get formations and reads correct.

When asked about the QB competition and if it had gotten any clearer, Gilbertson gave a very cryptic answer, "Yeah, it has in my mind."

Along the offensive line, the best player on the field looked to be OT Rob Meadow. Meadow constantly was able to get to the second or third level when blocking on running plays and got out in front of RB Shelton Sampson on a short pass and made a fine block on S Chris Hemphill allowing Sampson to pick up an additional 10 yards on the play.

The running backs all had chances to run with the first team, and again Kenny James looks like a difference-maker. James made an amazing cut in the hole and was able to break a run outside for about 30 yards before being pushed out of bounds.

Defensively the line had a great day. The Duke, Donny Mateaki, had a spirited morning practice after returning yesterday to the field. He wreaked havoc all along the interior of the line busting through and sacking Stanback and Bonnell and creating another sack on Paus when he caused a double-team allowing OLB Evan Benjamin to get to the QB.

DT Wilson Afoa continued to impress as well, knocking down a pass from Paus at the line and also got good penetration when he was in the lineup.

LB Scott White flashed great speed and a ball-hawking knack when he read a pass to RB Chris Singleton, arriving at the same time the ball did.

Freshman LB Dan Howell continues to show great athletic ability in practice and is making a name for himself on the outside. On one play he was able to bust up a pass to RB Louis Rankin by breaking on the ball and almost intercepting it and taking it the other way for a touchdown.

The secondary appears to be set in stone right now with Cunningham, Derrick Johnson, Goldson and Newell set as the starters. The fifth DB spot appears to be a battle between Matt Fountaine and Cody Ellis. Both were seeing time with the first unit but Fountaine's experience is likely to put him in the lead at this point.

As for injuries, TE Joe Toledo left the field with a back spasm that Gilbertson said was typical for the junior from Encinitas, California.

"He had a spasm, which happens from time to time with him, but instead of waiting until the end of practice, we treat him right away and it seems to do the trick."

The Huskies wrap up training camp this afternoon at 3 p.m. with a walk-through in shorts and helmets, in what might be the last practice for the team in Olympia for the foreseeable future. The rest of the practices – in Seattle – are closed to the public.

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