Dawgbytes - 8/18

It was clear from the start of Thursday morning's full-pads practice inside Husky Stadium, Tyrone Willingham was not going to stand for a sub-par effort. In fact, the team ran even before they stretched, a sure sign that energy and enthusiasm are necessary at all times if you want to play football for the purple and gold.

Willingham wouldn't acknowledge if the running was a penalty for a slow start or whether it was just standard conditioning. "You have to have your athletes under some stress," he said Thursday. "If you do all your conditioning at the end, some have a tendency to save themselves for the end, so that's why you have to mix it up. It's hard to save yourself that way."

With a little over two weeks until Air Force, the staff is starting to insert more of their game-planning. A Fisher DeBarry-coached team will always give their opponents fits, but when the legendary AFA option attack is supplimented by a productive passing effort, the Huskied will be in for a long afternoon.

Willingham has seen some good Falcon teams up close and personal. "We're blessed," he said of his staff's relative experience with AFA. "Two or three years ago we played a great Air Force team. I think they were undefeated and we were undefeated. It was on ESPN. Hopefully we can take our experience in with the inexperience of our players to defend that type of system."

Right now, Willingham is trying to use every scrap of anything to his advantage - even the fact that Washington has had extra time to scheme against a team he acknowledges requires extra time.

"We started some preparing last spring," he said. "I think we'll have an adequate amount of time. But every day in our practice, there's carryover for our offense. With Air Force, that's not the case. What they do is drastically different, so you need more time. I'm of the belief that if you have three days to prepare for an opponent, you can prepare very well. In this case, I think it takes a little longer. (Having extra time) should help us. When you only have one week to prepare during the season, that Sunday is basically a wasted day because you have nothing to tie in from that last week."

And when you are trying to turn around a struggling program right from the get-go, you may resort to some drastic measures - like running one of your starting QB candidates in with the scout team. "It's going to be a struggle trying to find guys that can run it (the option)," said Willingham. "We might have to put Isaiah (Stanback) on the other side to get a true look. His overall understanding of the game of football has improved tremendously."

Where's Johnie?: Or more to the point, where's Johnie Kirton going to play? He's been getting looks at tight end recently, but don't expect him to be a full-time TE. "We've already figured Johnie out," said Willingham. "We want him at a number of places. We need to get him the ball, and whether that's at halfback, fullback, tight end - he needs to be involved."

Willingham acknowledged that they run a fine line between giving Kirton too much responsibility at too many positions. "It's a combination," he said. "But we have to try not to have him do too much. We've got to balance that."

M.A.S.H. report: Jasper Henry was out of this morning's practice for precautionary purposes. Willingham said that it was nothing serious and that the RS frosh is expected back next week. Others that were either in street clothes or not in pads include Willie Kava (Elbow), Juan Garcia (Shoulder, foot), Dash Crutchley (foot) and Jared Bronson (eye infection). Those in pads but wearing red included Kenny James (shoulder), E.J. Savannah (shoulder), Trenton Tuiasosopo, Mike Gottlieb (shoulder) and Jordan White-Frisbee (foot). Savannah and Tuiasosopo have not been cleared for contact, according to Willingham. Adam Kravitz initially came out in red but then went back in and came out in his normal #32. Carl Bonnell, who was limited by a quad contusion, is back and practicing.

Dawgman.com Top Stories