Dawgbytes - 4/16

The message being delivered from Montlake this spring has been packaged in the form of a broken record. Renewing relationships with former players and faculty has already taken place, and on Saturday fifty to sixty coaches from all over the region and California descended upon Husky Stadium for Washington's annual Coaches Clinic.

When it comes to groups of people associated with Husky football - no matter how informal or loose the tie may be - new UW Head Coach Tyrone Willingham is giving them all the respect he feels they deserve.

Willingham talked about strengthening ties with the region's high schools as early as the first day he took his new job, and Saturday he walked the talk. "That's something you always try to work toward," he said when asked about building relationships with local schools and coaches. "First of all, we want them to know what we're trying to do and how they can fit in and how they can help us and we can help them. And then we want to give them something that they can take pride in.

"When the program is successful they also take pride in it because it will be their young men that will be leading the charge. We want the young men in Washington to lead the charge."

Willingham was thrilled with the turnout of coaches on hand despite less-than-ideal weather conditions. "On high school dollars, it's tough," he said. "And especially this time of the year because most of their money has been spent already going to other clinics and conventions."

So far the feedback Willingham and his staff have received for their spring goodwill tour has been nothing but one-hundred percent positive. "It was well-received," he said when asked about the program-faculty get-together this past Thursday. "They (faculty) clearly understand the goals of the program; to win a championship, to develop great students, to develop great people and to have fun. And I think that's something they can embrace and be on board with."

In fact, Willingham went so far as to say that the program had a better reception Thursday than one week ago, when he encouraged former players to attend practice and stay for a meal with the team. "Some of them noted that this was the first time that they were asked to come and not give anything," he said.

But what about what's happening on the field? If you look at the quarterbacking battle between Casey Paus, Isaiah Stanback, Carl Bonnell and Johnny DuRocher, that position has become a bit of a microcosm for how Willingham sees the progress being made this spring by his team as a whole.

"You see some good things and I see the bad things," he said. "It's gone back and forth. We need to have someone to start inching forward. Again, they don't have to do it all this week or next week. I'm comfortable that as long as it happens before we start to play, it gives us the chance to win."

Traditionally the Saturday before Spring Game has been Washington's biggest scrimmage day to date, but Willingham noted that their practice will have a very similar feel to what took place this past Saturday. "There will be periods of live drills and then some thud-tempo periods," he said.

And just like a week ago, the team started out in their full-contact drill where the offense gets one blocker to get past two defenders to score a touchdown and they did that all three times - the final two TD's scored by Johnie Kirton and Anthony Russo, respectively. This drill appeared to get the visiting coaches' attention too, as most of them were smiling and showing approval as the team broke off into offense and defense.

Faces in the Crowd: Jordan Rasmussen, a quarterback prospect from Tacoma Curtis, was seen amongst the coaches taking in Saturday's practice.

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