Dawgbytes - 4/1

As it was during Washington's first full spring practice, even the rain didn't dampen Tyrone Willingham's enthusiasm for getting back to the job he loves most - coaching. But when asked for his initial thoughts of his new team on Friday, it became clear that the Huskies' new head man has a distaste for singling out those above the rest.

"It was a good start, a lot of learning took place," Willingham said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but it was all good. It's a first day, and we're moving in the right direction."

When asked if anybody stood out individually, he was not going to go there. "My focus is about the team moreso than the individual," Willingham said. But he wasn't adverse to singling out a group of players.

"One thing I noticed is that the running backs didn't put the ball on the ground, and even for a first day people would say that's somewhat unusual," he said. "There's usually a lot of ball-handling mistakes because you really haven't done it live or in a game-type situation (of late). I thought it was a good start."

Willingham couldn't sidestep talking about one of his redshirt freshman offensive lineman - Ballard's Tyler Ashby - and the news that he has decided to leave the team. "Tyler will not be with us and he has asked to not be contacted," Willingham said, also noting that Ashby did not tell the UW coaches about his possible future plans.

"You want want any young man to ever leave your program," added Willingham. "I think we have an excellent university, an excellent football program and I think we are doing things the right way. We don't want them to leave for any reason."

Willingham was also quick to point out that there will be no such thing as a 3/4-speed drill, even if it's done at a so-called 'Thud'-tempo. "We will practice at full speed every day," he said. "If we aren't at full speed when we walk on that field, we aren't practicing. We should be able to go full speed and hold a guy up and not take a guy down to the ground and play the game of football. Attitude is number-one. Good football teams play hard, and you can't play hard sometimes."

Back at Notre Dame, Willingham was not able to single out a starting quarterback heading out of spring drills. Carlyle Holiday and Matt LoVecchio were battling tooth and nail for the position until LoVecchio decided to transfer to Indiana after the spring. It made Willingham's job a little easier, something he doesn't expect to happen this spring at Washington.

"When they walk onto the field, they are all being evaluated," he said of not only the quarterbacks, but of all the players. "It's going to be impossible in fifteen days to get everyone equal reps. But it will be as fair as possible. They have to take advantage of what they get. If they do that, they'll be putting themselves in an advantageous position."

And the players aren't the only ones being evaluated. As some of the writers were waiting for Willingham to arrive for his 2:30 press session, he was prompt. When the writers started wandering in, he had already started the session - as scheduled.

"You snooze, you lose," he told one writer. As we all checked our watches and phones, it was clear that some were a minute off from Willingham's phone. "You went with Verizon? No wonder," he queried a writer. "You're not clued into the center in Colorado (Atomic Clock in Boulder)."

Yours truly admits he was not clued into the Atomic Clock in Boulder and was a minute late, due to watching gymnastics.


Notes:
Liquid Sunshine: Willingham apparently didn't realize it rained Thursday. "For the most part, I didn't even notice it," he said. "I thought it was pretty good. I don't think we gave them (players) a chance to notice it. I think we moved pretty quickly for most of the practice."

Pads on Saturday: "We're going to practice our drills and fundamentals and then at some point we will actually play the game of football," Willingham said.

In attendance: J.R. Hasty, E.J. Savannah and Steve Schilling were all spotted at practice Friday, as well as roughly 20 kids from Naselle High School.


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