Dawgbytes - 4/7

The showers of April are upon the city of Seattle, and the Washington football team was met Thursday with a wet welcome as they hit Husky Stadium. But under Tyrone Willingham's watch, the energy, spirit and 'attitude' of the team was such that you wouldn't have known it was damp and cold outside. Such is the life of the Washington football player right now.

"There's been progress made, but there's still a lot to do," Willingham said. "There's still too many mistakes, but when it comes to attitude they are moving in the right direction."

The idea of 'attitude' has been a common theme for Willingham so far through the spring. Since attitude can be determined, disected and delivered so many different ways, it was best to ask the coach what he feels embodies his idea of 'attitude'.

"It's the manner in which we play the game," he said. "It's got to be played hard, it's got to be played physical, it's got to be played with a great deal of hustle. Those are the things that we look for on both sides of the ball and regarless of whether or not we are learning a new system the game has to be played with a certain amount of intensity."

While that intensity, hustle and physical play has shown up, there still are many other things Willingham is hoping will come around to fit right in with what the coaches are trying to do. Footwork and communication are probably the things the team is struggling with the most, while Willingham praised their efforts in listening intently. "They are paying attention, but as coaches you always want more," he said.

The Huskies already had a few players out for spring, and two more may join those ranks very soon. Linebackers Joe Lobendahn and Scott White did not practice Thursday, and it's unclear when they will rejoin the team.

"Joe (Lobendahn) will be out of the lineup for a week or two," Willingham said of the senior LB from Honolulu. "For the next couple of days he'll be resting but he'll be at practice. He may be doing limited stretching, and we'll keep evaluating it as we go."

And White? "He may be out for an extended period of time," added Willingham. "Nothing football-related there."

Willingham also noted that junior QB Isaiah Stanback has had limited participation in team drills, but full-go for everything else. When injuries like these are noted, Willingham considers it a 'mixed blessing'. When one person goes down, it creates an opportunity for someone else. When looking for an example of this, you don't have to go any further than the linebackers.

"I don't know if we've seen it yet, but the opportunity is there," Willingham said when asked about the play of linebackers Daniel Howell and Kyle Trew. Both Howell and Trew played alongside Evan Benjamin Thursday. "When you get past the first three (linebackers), the rest do not have a great deal of experience, so they all have to step up and do a great job of learning."

Another player that has had to do a lot of learning on the fly is senior offensive tackle Joe Toledo. Toledo moved one spot inside, from tight end to tackle, and Willingham believes the change has been for the best.

There have been some hiccups, but it's going very well," he said of Toledo's switch. "He was next to that guy for a long while, and hopefully they talked to each other at some point. There should be some understanding as to the communication that needs to take place."

Any new position moves of note? "There are some we are thinking about but none that we've really acted on at this time," said Willingham. "We're maybe a couple of days away from that. We haven't had an honest opportunity to see all the players."

That being said, running back Johnie Kirton definitely spent some time Thursday taking reps at fullback. "We've moved him around and there's some things he's doing that are just natural in our system," Willingham said. "But he would still probably be in backfield positions more than anything else."

Another departure: Herb Hartso, a 6-0, 230-pound walk-on inside linebacker from Tacoma Stadium, has left the program. In attendance: Former Washington Head Coach Jim Lambright was in attendance Thursday. Lambright and Willingham faced each other twice when Willingham was at Stanford, with Lambright's Huskies winning both times. Former UW coach Dick Baird was also there, as well as OT Khalif Barnes. Barnes, expected to be picked in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, is in Seattle finishing up a class but will be in San Diego with family to watch the draft on the 23rd. He will walk with his degree in June. Also in attendance was 6-foot-7 tackle prospect Spencer Towne from Kennewick Southridge.

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