Dawgbytes - 8/9

Spirit and Tempo were alive and well at Husky Stadium Tuesday afternoon, but I'm not referring to Washington's canine mascots. For two hours the Huskies went through their first day of the NCAA-mandated five 'acclimatization' days in shorts and it was evident the team was ready to get after it despite not having any pads on. New Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham loves aggressiveness, but fighting is a different story.

The team found out the hard way, as they ran after Rob Meadow and Dashon Goldson got into it after Meadow tried to put a downfield block on the UW safety. Goldson took major exception to it, and a group skirmish ensued.

Two laps later, the team was allowed to resume practice. "You don't ever want to put yourself in a situation where you might have the opportunity to incur a penalty," Willingham said after practice. "And since we practice how we play, a situation like that would have cost us fifteen yards and maybe one or more of our young men get expelled from the game. And our football team cannot afford that."

But other than the brief delay for a trip around the track, the nearly 2-hour practice seemed to be full of enthusiasm and excitement, especially on the defensive end. "I was pleased with the way they reported and the way they came onto the practice field," said Willingham.

This was the first time the UW coaches could eyeball the players to see their condition, and there was only one player who was not able to practice due to condition - big frosh OL Morgan Rosborough. He did take part in the team testing that took place in the Dempsey Indoor Facility right before practice, but did not practice.

"We anticipated that," Willingham said when asked about Rosborough's condition, adding that Morgan would be going through an individual conditioning regimen to get him prepared for the rigors of college football.

The team did '300's' at Dempsey - 60-yard dashes run 5 times back and forth - as part of their testing.

As far as the actual practice, the team went through their individual workouts, then special teams, and then ramped up the team practice with 7-7's and then some full 11-11 'thud temp'-style play. For a no-pads practice, the hitting was still evident.

"That's the way we practice - offense and defense - every day,". Willingham said, matter-of-factly when asked about the high tempo and the collisions. Special focus was spent on the defense flowing to the ball and doing their best to strip the ballcarrier. With 42 turnovers last season, emphasis is being placed on making sure the Dawgs hold onto the rock.

"If you hold onto the football, you probably have a good chance to win the game," said Willingham. "The simple saying for me is, 'Who has the ball usually wins the game.'"

Willingham also made note of the freshmen in attendance. "There is still so much that they have to know," he said about their learning curve. "Even though they have had the material in their hands, it's different when you're put in this environment. I thought for the most part they did well."

But in walking around Husky Stadium, it was also clear that the freshmen were aptly titled. Whether it was Trent Miles working J.R. Hasty or Chris Tormey getting down to business with Darrion Jones and Chris Stevens, the UW coaches are not giving the new guys a lot of slack.

And don't think they were just trying to test the new guys either. UW Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer worked intently with safeties C.J. Wallace and Darin Harris on responsibilities and the whole secondary stayed late after practice to work on their backpeddaling.

As you would expect with Day One, the defense certainly had a grip over the offense.

Daniel Howell picked off Casey Paus in the flat during the 7-7's. Johnny DuRocher looked great at times, and at other times had trouble getting the ball out of his hand. The quarterbacks overall looked shaky at best, and between reps Offensive Coordinator Tim Lappano could be seen pleading with his guys to look at the shorter routes and to 'take what's given'. James Sims and Johnnie Kirton saw time at both fullback and tailback. Kirton looks very good and is a load coming out of the backfield.

In the trenches, Donny Mateaki, Stanley Daniels, Tusi Sa'au and Juan Garcia all looked very good, with Garcia just rag-dolling his defender at times.

Captain, my captain: Willingham addressed how he'll name captains for the season. For the past ten years he's named gameday captains and then at the end the team will vote on who the captains should be. Why that method? "I like it because it's inclusive of leadership," Willingham said. "This way we have an opportunity to involve a lot of people. In any organization, you want your leadership to run as deep as possible."

Special Beginning: The team only worked on the punting aspect of special teams on Tuesday, with both Sean Douglas and frosh Ryan Perkins taking turns booting the ball into the evening sun. Marlon Wood was one of the new faces returning punts, along with Sonny Shackelford, Charles Smith and JC walk-on WR Alex Mercier. Michael Gottlieb and Jason Benn were doing the long snapping. It's expected Mike Mapuolesega will continue to be UW's short snapper.

Injury update: Jordan White-Frisbee's right foot was in a boot Tuesday, but that didn't stop the sophomore DT from working out with the team when he could. And when he couldn't, new strength and conditioning coach Trent Greener had White-Frisbee climbing the south stairs. Running back Kenny James bruised shoulder during the team 11-11's, but Willingham didn't appear concerned. "He'll be fine," he said of the junior from Dos Palos, California.

Dawgman.com Top Stories