Dawgbytes - 10/6

With vaunted opponent BYE coming this weekend for Washington, it's time for Tyrone Willingham and his coaches to put the 'second season' of recruiting in front of the first season, if only for a few days. So while some UW coaches are already on the road putting in their days of evaluation, Willingham is back at Husky Stadium with his team.

"It's been OK," said Willingham Thursday when asked about his team's work this week. The Huskies are off until an October 15th meeting with Oregon in Eugene. "It's very much what you would get with a bye week in most regards, probably a little too easy-going. But it's always a mixed bag. Some things are going well, some things you need to up the tempo, energy level, focus and concentration a little more. But we're on track to reach our goals that we set for the week."

As Willingham stated on Monday, the program's goals this week were four-fold:

1) Get healthier
2) Work on an opponent
3) Getting seldom-used players a chance to play some football
4) Recruiting

Recruiting just might be the most important goal for Washington right now. The coaches are off to a strong start with their early commitments, but need to also finish strong. Right now is an evaluation period for recruits, and Washington will have up to the maximum of seven coaches on the road at any one time. Willingham will not count against that number, but will still watch some high school football. His son Nathaniel plays for Skyline, and the Spartans are scheduled to play Woodinville on Friday.

"It's all evaluation," said Willingham. "You cannot have any person-to-person contact. We can talk to their counselors and watch their athletic contests, but there can be no contact." because UW isn't located in a real hotbed for D1 talent, Willingham added that the week off gives the Huskies a much-needed chance to get their faces out there in front of top prospects and their coaches.

"If you were one of the Los Angeles schools, since that area is so fertile you might want to use your days a little differently," said Willingham when asked about recruiting strategy during the evaluation period. "For us, the bye week becomes critical, to get our guys out there and get them involved."

Each Division-one school has six evaluation days where coaches get to see as many players as possible - either at a practice session or during a game - and also find out about their academic standing. As a result, the Huskies had only three coaches around for Thursday's practice, which meant Willingham had to dig in and get his hands a little dirtier than normal.

"Someone has to run practice," he said with a hint of a smile. "The defensive line and receivers have the wonderful opportunity to visit with my instruction."

Working backward, goal number-three was taken care of Wednesday in the form of a '20-minute' scrimmage, according to Willingham. And to nobody's surprise, it was J.R. Hasty that continues to push hard for consideration when it comes to playing time on Saturdays.

"J.R. Hasty really jumped out, did some wonderful things," said Willingham of the true frosh from Bellevue.

Injury Report: Receiver Charles Smith injured his shoulder Wednesday and would not practice on Thursday. "It might affect his availability to practice next week," said Willingham. Willingham also said that the health of Joe Toledo and Chad Macklin is progressing, but they won't really get pushed until next week.

Position Movement: With newly-converted cornerback Shelton Sampson leaving the team Monday, Willingham acknowledged that he would not be moving any other players to the cornerback spot for the time being. "You have to figure out the right person, so it maximizes what they do and maximizes the benefit to the team," he said. "And if you don't feel like someone doesn't give that to you, you don't make a move."

Willingham would not comment on any of the details surrounding Sampson's departure, but admitted that his absence would have an effect. "Any time you have someone that leaves the team it affects the team," said Willingham. "There are relationships that have been established. He's been a friend to guys and hopefully he'll stay in the university and get his degree from the university. But the loss is always something you don't like, doesn't matter who it is."

There has also been talk that second-year DT Jordan White-Frisbee - currently sidelined with a foot injury - might get moved to the offensive line when he does come back to the team. "We will be looking at that," said Willingham, but added that the move was anything but a done deal.

"You look at trying to maximize a young man's potential to help the football team and to help himself," said Willingham. "And you try to find the best spot for him to do both of those.

Khalif Barnes and Bob Sapp are two examples of Washington defensive prospects that were moved to offense during their time at Montlake. "You hope in all your moves you want similar results," said Willingham. "You want the best for him, and for most young men playing at this level, what they would like to have an opportunity to do is be a pro. And if you can put them in a situation where they can do that, then usually it not only helps them but it helps the team."

Because the move is something the coaches are seriously considering, Willingham said Thursday that they have decided to redshirt White-Frisbee. Until then, it was unclear whether or not Willingham was going to hold the 6-foot-6, 335-pounder out. "Right now that is our plan," said Willingham.

Walking-on to success: Senior walk-on kicker Evan Knudson was placed on scholarship the day before school started, and at least one other walk-on, fullback Mark Palaita, has been making a strong case for scholarship consideration. "He's doing very well," Willingham said of Palaita. "He's taken a role of being a lead blocker and receiver and done that role better than the other guys at that position. So we've used him in those situations and he's responded. He comes to play football."

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