8/25 PM Practice Report

Where'd August go? That was the question Wednesday afternoon as the rain and wind was already at midseason form for the Huskies' one practice of the day at Husky Stadium.

"I don't think I've ever seen it like this in August," said Washington coach Keith Gilbertson. "Man it's November. It rained the whole time. This is a tropical storm."

"Tropical Storm Gilbertson," one writer quipped.

Even the "sidewards rain," stealing a phrase from Forrest Gump, couldn't stop the Huskies from conducting an extended 26-period practice, though.

With each passing day, it is looking more like Casey Paus will be the man behind center to start the season-opener against Fresno State in 11 days. The fourth-year quarterback got almost all of the practice with the first-team offense on Wednesday while Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell worked with the second team, throwing the ball well in the ugly conditions.

Gilbertson acknowledged that Paus has put together practices on back-to-back days, but wasn't prepared to name him the starter just yet. The Husky head coach also said he's been impressed with the way Stanback has played of late.

With one more scrimmage in the plans to finalize all positions on the depth chart, all eyes will be on the quarterback spot.

"You hope that those guys all go out there and perform," said Gilbertson. "You are getting down to the place where it's probably best where we decide who goes down the tunnel first, and who's next and who's next."

More and more, it looks like Paus, who had a number of well-placed passes on the day. His best went to Corey Williams on a ball that found the receiver's outstretched hands right between safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Derrick Johnson.

Quintin Daniels had a difficult time catching the football all practice long. At least three passes slipped through his hands, including one in the endzone. He got a little help on one of the three drops from Cody Ellis, who came in to pop Daniels just after the ball arrived. Nevertheless, Daniels' missed time due to a toe injury early on in camp appears to have put him a bit behind the others.

Meanwhile, Anthony Russo (quad contusion) joined the long list of players in red non-contact jerseys, further depleting a receiving corps that has been without Charles Frederick (ankle) for seven days.

"They are saying he'll be back tomorrow," said Gilbertson of Russo. "We're going twice, so I don't know if he'll be back in the morning."

As for Frederick, the Husky head coach said he expects the senior receiver to return by Thursday afternoon, Friday at the latest. Frederick caught routes in his red jersey today.

Also in red today was Dash Crutchley (hamstring), becoming the fourth tight end to don a red jersey along with Joe Toledo (back), Ben Bandel (knee) and Jon Lyon (thigh).

The only two healthy tight ends on the roster now are walk-on Michael Gotllieb and second-year player Robert Lewis. As of now, Gotlieb looks to be higher in the rotation. Though undersized, the Mercer Island product has the best speed of all the tight ends and has shown tremendous hands all camp. He hauled in a catch in traffic from Paus again today, helping his cause.

Defensively, the already thin front line lost another player on Wednesday, this time to a position change. That came in the form of Jordan Reffett, a second-year player who had been working out at defensive tackle before moving to the offensive line today.

"I think that's his natural spot," said Gilbertson. "I think he'll be a good player there. He's just a redshirt freshman. I really think that's his natural position."

Reffett's move likely means that Jordan White-Frisbee will move up into a reserve role at defensive tackle, joining the likes of Wilson Afoa and either Dan Milsten or Donny Mateaki. Mateaki would be the starter, but he's missed all but three days of practice with a hamstring problem.

At 6-foot-6, 330-pounds, White-Frisbee has the body to make an immediate impact.

"I think he's got a chance to get into the two-deeps, I really do," said Gilbertson. "We haven't seen Donny Mateaki for a while, so he's got a chance." In other news, rush-end backer Brandon Ala is continuing to play well off the edge. On a handoff to Zach Tuiasosopo, the third-year player from Hawaii came in to strip the ball away from the senior fullback. Ala, at 6-3, 245 pounds, has put himself in prime position to play big minutes in 2004.

Mike Mapu continues to work with the first-team at Husky, now backed up by Ty Eriks, and is working himself into better shape the longer fall camp goes. He came up huge on one running play, stopping Johnie Kirton in the backfield. Mapu, who has the wildest hair on the team, also has a fire that never seems to go away. His redshirt season of 2003 could very well make for a breakout '04.

Tahj Bomar also had a nice stop on Tuiasosopo up the middle. The sophomore linebacker is currently running with the twos.

Late in practice, the first team units on both sides of the ball got their first look at a scout team. Just another sign that the season-opener is coming fast.

The Huskies return to the practice field on Thursday the last day of two-a-days. From that point on, it's one practice a day.

Notes:

Number Changes: Reffett has switched from No. 95 to No. 59. Walk-on receiver Steve Anderson has went from 31 to 6.

More Lambo: Former Husky head coach and long-time defensive coordinator Jim Lambright was again at practice on Wednesday. He also attended practice last week in Olympia.

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