12-18 Practice Report

Two skirmishes - both of which involved the same player - highlighted a spirited practice this evening in the Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility. Robin Meadow, the mammoth freshman offensive guard who's redshirting this season, took a page out of Elliott Silvers' book by mixing it up with two different players on the defensive line.

The first time it was Graham Lasee, also a redshirt player. The two pushed, shoved, and Meadow ripped Lasee's helmet off before they were separated. Minutes later, Meadow was at it again, this time with Terry Johnson. Johnson, nicknamed "Tank" by his teammates, pummeled the freshman into the ground before he was pulled off him.

The team looked a bit more pumped up today as they inch closer to the bowl game. They'll practice tomorrow and Thursday before leaving for San Diego on Friday, where they will then continue practices.

Rick Neuheisel thinks his team right where it needs to be, but still sees room for improvement before the match up against Texas.

"I think we are in good shape but we need to take it up a notch," the head coach said. "If we're going to put our best foot forward we're going to have to take it up a notch, and I'm anxious to see that happen before we leave."

The big development of the day was the move of Adam Seery to second string quarterback. Seery, who has been the team's number four quarterback all season, took snaps with the second team due to the legal troubles that will very likely keep backup Taylor Barton out of the Holiday Bowl, and the team's unwillingness to burn freshman Casey Paus' redshirt on the final game of the season.

Seery, the third-year player from New Mexico, moved to quarterback this season after being tried at linebacker and safety during his first two seasons with the team.

Neuheisel explained the team's stance on the quarterback situation. "Our hope is that we wouldn't have to use Casey's redshirt. I mean you never say never, but our hope is that we wouldn't have to."

Seery doesn't have nearly the arm strength or accuracy that Paus possesses. Nonetheless, he would most likely be the player the team turns to if Pickett would have to leave the game because of the fact that Paus is the team's quarterback of the future, and would have four years of eligibility in tact if he doesn't enter the game.

The younger players in the program have had a chance to battle with the upperclassmen all season, but it's been exclusively as scout team members. Later this week, Neuheisel says that he'll change that by separating the youth of the team from everyone else in order to plan for the future.

"I'm hoping to do that on Thursday," said Neuheisel, "having a section of practice cordoned off just to work with our young guys. I'm also excited about doing that down in San Diego for a couple of days."

With players like Evan Benjamin, Joe Toledo, Ty Eriks, Manase Hopoi, Robin Meadow, and Casey Paus all taking advantage of a redshirt season this year, Neuheisel will have plenty of talent to work with.

Today, though, these freshmen still were working on the scout team while the upperclassmen worked hard to improve for the season finale. Nowhere was the competition more fierce than in the trenches, where both the offensive and defensive lines took turns abusing each other.

Anthony Kelly, moving up to the line, twice burned tackle Todd Bachert - the first on a spin move and the second on a swim move that had the offensive lineman swiping at air. But the offensive line returned the favor, thanks in large part to the exceptional play today of Andre Reeves. Reeves, still just a redshirt freshman, pancaked Zach Tuiasosopo as the linebacker blitzed. It not only embarrassed Zach, it drew the attention of defensive line coach Randy Hart, who "encouraged" the second-year player from Woodinville to play harder. But soon later, Reeves was back at it as he pancaked Marcus Roberson, one of the bigger players on the team. Reeves then came up with a huge block on Larry Tripplett on the following play to cap one of the finest sequences of plays in his young career at the UW - at least on the practice field.

The defensive line, however, returned to dominance when redshirt freshman Josh Miller used his strength to bull over guard Nick Newton on two different instances.

On the offensive side of the football, Pickett put together a very typical day of practice, making wise decisions with good accuracy on his passes. On one particular play, Pickett looked across the middle at a well-covered Todd Elstrom on a slant, but elected to instead throw outside to Wilbur Hooks on an out-pattern. Hooks pulled down the high-throw over Chris Massey to complete the play. Pickett also threw an excellent pass earlier in practice as he rolled out to the right and connected with Reggie Williams on a bullet-pass toward the sidelines.

Texas is a team that, according to Neuheisel, has a defensive scheme that is predominantly set up to stop the run. Even so, the head coach says that the Huskies can't get into the kind of game where they'll have to throw the ball on every down.

Rich Alexis is one person who could help Washington's cause. If he runs like he did against Miami, the Longhorns will have to honor the run all game long. Alexis, himself, admits that he didn't have the type of success this year that he hoped for, but Neuheisel isn't overly concerned.

"I think he's on a learning curve, and it wasn't as easy as it appeared last year," Neuheisel said of Alexis' sophomore year. "I think he also learned about getting himself in shape. I think he learned how to understand defenses and blocking schemes, and I'm hopeful that he'll come back with a great junior year. I'm anxious to see that all happen."
Husky Notes:

Pickett to go under knife?: After practice today, Neuheisel spoke about Cody Pickett's shoulder situation. Asked if surgery was in his starting quarterback's future, Neuheisel said, "I listen to the experts on that stuff." He continued. "There are certainly people more qualified to answer that question than I myself. We'll certainly do what we think is in his best interest an he'll be involved with the decision making process."

O-Lowe Feeling Better: After being unable to play in more than just a couple snaps in the Miami game, Omare Lowe told Neuheisel today that he feels as good as he has "since the Washington State game." How good that is may be somewhat of a question. The senior cornerback from Maple Valley battled a shoulder injury all season before coming down with a back injury late in the season, but it looks as though he'll be full go in his last game as a Husky.

Recruiting News: The Huskies are expecting to hear from Nathan Rhodes, an offensive tackle from Bakersfield, anytime now. He has it narrowed down to either Tennessee or Washington. Also on the recruiting front, the Huskies reportedly have received another verbal from an athlete that has not been previously mentioned on this site. More to follow on that as we confirm with the prospective student athlete in question. Also, the Huskies are still in the running for Stanley Daniels, the OL from San Diego. Getting a verbal from LB Scott White will reportedly help a great deal in convincing Daniels' mom that Washington is more than just a viable option. White and Daniels are close friends. On a bad note, Gibril Wilson, the CCSF safety that Washington was pursuing, has committed to Tennessee.

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