Spring Wrap: The Offense

Keith Gilbertson saw some great things at times, and at others he was extremely frustrated. This Husky offense has the potential to be outstanding and Gilby hopes to find the tonic that will make his group perform at a consistent level.

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After the spring game on Saturday, Gilbertson was not what one would call "plussed."

"I thought offensively we were just so-so. It was a pretty average performance. I was a little disappointed in the way our ones came out and moved it early. It took them a couple drives to get going and we don't have that luxury," said Gilbertson.

"You've got to get out and get going right from the start. From that standpoint, I thought it was a pretty average performance."

Over all, Gilbertson was pretty happy with what happened in April.

"I thought we had a good spring. I didn't think today was particularly as good as I hoped it would be. We have a lot of improvements to make before we can go play a team like Michigan at Michigan," he said.

Backup quarterback Taylor Barton had a very solid spring, and Gilbertson noticed.

"He looked really good at times. He had two good drives, one with the ones and another with the two offense against the one defense. He made some really good plays and he has improved a lot. He has also improved athletically, he looks quicker and faster than he did a year ago."

As for returning starting quarterback Cody Pickett, Gilbertson was pleased to get him back for the spring, considering the surgery he underwent in January to repair his separated shoulder. But he hopes that the junior from Idaho will progress in the off-season.

"He really just started throwing when we started spring practice. He has really only been throwing for about 15 days. He is not anywhere near where I think he is capable of being. I think if he can continue to improve his shoulder and throw well in May, June and July that will pay some great dividends for when we get back together in August. He had some really good days and then he had some days when I wasn't so pleased with. Decision-making wise, there were some things I wished he would have done a little different. He is a guy that will work awfully hard and he has always improved from week to week, so once he gets some steady work in gets in a rhythm, I think he will be fine," said Gilbertson.

Coach Rick Neuheisel would like to see the quarterback position be thrown into competition this fall to bring out the best in all of the quarterbacks. He said as much after the spring game, and Gilby subscribes to this theory.

"I don't think Coach Neuheisel has given any jobs away. As far as I know, every job you want to come in and compete for during training camp -- there are jobs to be won. He (Barton) certainly didn't play himself out of anything. When he got time to throw, he put the ball on the money. He also made some plays with his legs and he looked good running the option. He has had a good spring. I'm not sure what the distance is (between Pickett and Barton), but you never want to tell somebody that they don't have a chance to compete for a position. That is how you improve your football team, by guys who are competing for spots," said Gilbertson.

One area that the Husky coaches were unable to work on a great deal was the four-wideout set. "We really only had two of our regular receivers going at practice. Now guys like Wilbur (Hooks), Pat (Reddick) and Justin (Robbins) can start to get involved (over the summer), when now they haven't been able to do anything. So when those guys can go our and throw routes together and spend time together, they need to do it. Where I think we will have good quality depth, right now we don't."

Robbins' timetable for return may have been accelerated to the point where he may return in the fall. Hooks' shoulder will be 100% and Reddick has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

At tight end, senior Kevin Ware stepped to the forefront and is the clear starter headed into fall. "I thought Kevin had a really good spring, as good as he has had. He has worked his way into the pass offense and he can be a ‘go to' guy. I think our quarterbacks feel good about throwing him the ball," said Gilbertson.

The offensive line will be a veteran group, but that doesn't mean that Gilbertson was happy with what they did this spring. "I am disappointed in how we blocked, I didn't think our blocking was as crisp or as efficient as it has been. We are going to have to block a lot better than how we blocked in the scrimmage, because I was pretty disappointed in that. It seemed like there were a lot of negative plays on first down, either penalties or loss of yardage that put us in some long-yardage situations. That put us out of our running game a little bit."

In general, the Huskies' offensive coordinator was happy with how much his group accomplished this spring. "I thought we got a lot done in the spring. We probably got more introduced in terms of when they come back in the fall, there won't be very much that they haven't heard before. We did introduce a lot of offense this spring. Are we a finished product or complete package? No. We have lots of work to do to get better. But, I think we will be in good shape to pick it up in the fall. They are guys who have been around each other for a year or two years. They are a nice bunch of kids, good guys who want to be really good and aren't afraid to work and compete. I am enthusiastic about them."
POSSIBLE OFFENSIVE TWO-DEEPS: STARTERS IN BOLD

OFFENSIVE LINE:
WT Khalif Barnes 6-5 300 sophomore
WT Ryan Brooks 6-6 305 redshirt-freshman
OG Nick Newton 6-5 315 junior
OG Jason Simonson 6-5 300 junior
C Todd Bachert 6-4 310 junior
C Dan Dicks 6-5 325 sophomore
OG Elliott Zajac 6-3 305 senior
OG Aaron Butler 6-2 320 sophomore
ST Andre Reeves 6-5 310 sophomore
ST Robin Meadow 6-5 310 redshirt-freshman

RECEIVERS:
FL Paul Arnold 6-0 205 senior
FL Patrick Reddick 5-9 200 senior
SE Reggie Williams 6-4 215 sophomore
SE Wilbur Hooks, Jr. 6-0 200 senior
TE Kevin Ware 6-2 255 senior
TE Joe Toledo 6-6 285 redshirt-freshman

BACKFIELD:
QB Cody Pickett 6-4 210 junior
QB Taylor Barton 6-2 205 senior
TB Braxton Cleman 5-11 200 senior
TB Rich Alexis 6-2 220 junior
FB Zach Tuiasosopo 6-2 235 sophomore
FB Adam Seery 6-0 210 junior

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