Dawgbytes - 8/14

There are no rest days right now for the Washington Huskies, they are in full-grind mode. And in the new era of head coach Tyrone Willingham, depth and options are the catch-words of fall camp. Willingham spoke Sunday of the options he's utilizing in special teams, as well as whether or not he will be redshirting certain true freshmen.

But, as it is the main topic of fall camp, Willingham still doesn't have a clear leader at quarterback. "They haven't done enough things yet," he said, despite OC Tim Lappano's suggestion that a starter for Air Force would most likely be chosen in a week. And he didn't see a lot different in watching the tape of Saturday's full-pads practice - the first one of the fall. "We've been wailing on ourselves a lot already," Willingham added.

With the addition of true frosh Ryan Perkins as a placekicker/punter, Willingham has options at both the kicking spots. "He's showed us to be very solid, but as with any newcomer all we're looking for is consistency," Willingham said of Perkins' game. "He's doing OK."

Despite coming in as a placekicker first, Perkins can punt with either leg, giving Willingham even more to think about. "We have to make sure that it's the right blend for our system," Willingham said when asked about possibly using Perkins' ambidexderity. "You see the rugby-style where kickers can roll out either way and kick and that certainly can give you some options. Our system is a little more basic than that."

For the meantime, expect incumbent punter Sean Douglas to be handling all the punting chores this fall. "I'd say he's in the lead," said Willingham of the junior from Bellevue, Nebraska. "He's shown that he can be strong in that area."

So what about return men? Players such as Shelton Sampson and Sonny Shackelford have been returning kicks, and Willingham has also been trying out some of the new junior college help - like Marlon Wood and Alex Mercier. We don't want to limit our search, he said when asked who he would be looking at for his return team. "There might be a player we have that's just being quiet about his skills. I had a player once that wanted to be a linebacker. Turned out he could punt too, and he ended up being an All-American."

Wood, a redshirt sophomore from Florida that played last year at Pasadena City College, was recently moved to receiver - a move that Willingham said probably will stick. "He's doing a good job right now, but he's playing catchup a little bit," he said. "He's going through a 'working through' right now."

One place where options are sorely needed is at cornerback. "That's why we were seeking help from the junior colleges," Willingham said when asked about finding players to join players like Matt Fountaine and Roy Lewis. "With not a lot of depth and no returning starters, you're always looking to better yourself. There's no question it opens up spots for next year for freshmen to come in because there's an obvious need to play. But for right now, we deal with what we have."

And in that regard, if there are true freshmen available to play at any position, Willingham is wide-open to suggestion. "Experience is such a valuable tool, but we haven't ruled out anybody yet," he said.


Full Boat: Joshua Gage, a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker from Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison, was added Sunday as a walk-on player. With Trenton Tuiasosopo already added Friday, the squad is at its pre-season 105-player limit.

Emtman's Status: When asked about the status of Steve Emtman in regard to his role with the Huskies, Willingham said he didn't know. Emtman helped lead the strength and conditioning effort for Washington with Pete Kaligis, but Washington just hired former Oregon State strength and conditioning coach Trent Greener. "As much as anything, it was more an athletic department decision and not just a football decision," Willingham said of the hiring of Greener. "But I like his enthusiasm and experience. He's been with other teams and has done well."


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