Dawgbytes - 9/14

There was plenty to talk about Wednesday, as Tyrone Willingham and the Washington Huskies are trying to find their way out of the Division-One cellar and into the light of the win column. They will match up Saturday with the Idaho Vandals, a team also looking for that elusive first win of the 2005 season. "Not bad for the most part," said Willingham when asked about how practice has been going for the Huskies so far this week.

"Things are moving along pretty well. Consistency has improved but there are still going to be ups and downs. And since Tuesday is the start of implimenting our game plan, there's a lot of new information to learn."

Willingham noted the four things he feels the Huskies need in order to put in a 'perfect practice' and have that work carry over into Saturday's game. "Effort, focus, consistency and execution all go into making a great practice," he said. "If you do those things you put yourself in a great position. But the game is the ultimate concern."

The biggest concern for Willingham, Washington defensive coordinator Kent Baer and the UW defense is the improved play of Idaho's quarterbacks and receivers. Two years ago, Michael Harrington went 6-23 for 54 yards as the Huskies defeated the Vandals 45-14. Harrington is still with the Vandals, but it's Steve Wichman that has taken over. With a 165.98 pass efficiency rating, Wichman is getting the ball to his receivers. Junior College WR Daniel Smith has been the biggest recipient of date, catching 16 passes for 244 yards and two scores.

"He's been the strong point of their system," Willingham said of Smith. "How they free him up and the things they do - whether it's crossing routes or trying to isolate him one-on-one - hopefully some patterns emerge."

And as with any football game, the goal is the same - get that 'W'. "That one doesn't change," said Willingham.

Injury update: C.J. Wallace and Roy Lewis returned to work Tuesday, each doing different things. "(C.J.) Wallace had a full day," said Willingham. (Roy) Lewis had minimal work, if any. Today (Wednesday) will be the first real indication of where he is." Willingham added that Kenny James did minimal drills, but no work with the team. Carl Bonnell is still hampered by a quad injury. "(Erick) Lobos was available but didn't work," added Willingham. "I anticipate he'll be back, hopefully today." Dan Milsten is back to one-hundred percent, but is having a tough time cracking the two-deeps. "He's practicing and trying to fight his way back into the lineup," said Willingham. "Even though he's one-hundred percent, the injury is having an impact on his ability to play." Darrion Jones will not be available for Idaho because of a shoulder stinger that did not allow him to suit up against Cal. And Jordan White-Frisbee? "He's closer," said Willingham, who still would not give a timetable on the return of the 6-foot-6, 335-pound defensive tackle from Kenmore. "The possibility is always there (for a redshirt season), but it depends on a lot of things. It's going to be a tough one."

In Red: E.J. Savannah and Trenton Tuiasosopo are still both practicing but neither have been cleared for contact. Willingham still insisted that there's a chance Savannah could see playing time in 2005.

Who will develop?: Robert Lewis, Jared Bronson and Johnie Kirton are all seeing time at tight end, but Willingham wants one player to take the position and win the spot. Could the newly-converted Kirton be leading the pack soon? "They are all improved and they are all getting better," said Willingham. "Obviously I'm delighted with some of the things that Johnie Kirton has done. He's come in and made some big catches and shown himself to be ready to do some things and he's going to continue to improve each week." Willingham also added that a leader at that position could be announced at any time. "They are moving in that direction, but one guy hasn't gone out and grabbed it yet," he said of the ongoing position battle.

Moss gathering steam: With the tenuous health of Roy Lewis, Willingham is looking for more players in the secondary to step up and be available. Clarence Simpson is one of those players, but Willingham spoke more Wednesday about the emergence of converted fullback Durrell Moss. "The stronger candidate would be (Durrell) Moss," Willingham said when asked who would be backing up the corners besides Josh Okoebor. "He's got good size and speed and now it's just the ability to acquire an understanding of the position. And also seeing if he's got the feet to take to the position, because Cornerbacks require excellent feet."

Goodbye Goodman: The anticipated UW career of former Montana State tight end Jason Goodman lasted one day. Goodman left the team for undisclosed reasons last week after being added to the roster Tuesday. Goodman's departure brings the current UW roster to 109 total players, 80 of them on scholarship.

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