Dawgbytes - 4/6

It's been a crash course of sorts for the Washington football program so far this spring, one that was intended to give them a lot to look at early on in the schedule. Now that it's over and the team is starting to find it's mid-spring rhythm, Tyrone Willingham was able to give some comments on what he's seen so far, some players that have seen time at other positions, and what that might mean for the team come game time in the fall.

"The first week was, by the end of it, a difficult week," Willingham said. "When you look at what we were trying to accomplish, we were trying to fit in five practices into six days. That's a lot of football work, and I think for the most part I liked how our guys worked through it. Otherwise, it had the normal ups and downs that you get about this time. To start the week, I thought our defense moved and did some things a little bit better than the offense, and a little bit later toward the end I thought the offense came on, and then you had a settling of both groups. And now, after the day off, I hope that we can really get going again."

The biggest position change of note Thursday was the movement of safety Dashon Goldson to cornerback. That position currently has only two healthy players with any 2005 experience (Roy Lewis and Matt Fountaine), and one that isn't healthy - Durrell Moss - spent time at safety this spring before coming up with a hamstring issue.

Enter Goldson, who has started every game he's played in since arriving from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas three years ago. This spring, the Huskies have experimented with Goldson out wide, and it appears that it could be a permanent switch.

"If we were playing someone else, he'd be at corner," Willingham said of Goldson. "He's got great size (6-2, 195 pounds)," added UW Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer. "The times that we've lined him up on receivers, the first thing you judge as a corner is whether or not he can play man. Can he defend the deep third, break on a post or keep the ball in front of him as a corner, and he's shown the ability to do that as a safety. A lot of times we've lined him up on receivers as a safety and I think he's got that ability. If he continues to work and learn, I think the sky is the limit for him."

How would Baer ideally like to use the senior from Harbor City, Calif.? "I'd like to use him as one of our corners and in our nickel package have him be our nickel," Baer said of Goldson. "He's a big guy, and you would like to have a big, athletic guy at nickel if you can, and I think he's a guy we'd like to see if he can get it done."

If Goldson's move outside proves to be set, Mesphin Forrester would play safety, according to Willingham. "He's still learning, still growing," Willingham said of the 6-foot-2, 185-pound redshirt sophomore from Venice, Calif. "Last year, toward the end of spring practice, I was saying some nice things about Mesphin. He hit that stretch where it was really starting to come, he was starting to do some things. It kind of levelled off, but I hope and believe that he's on one of those upswings again where he's very positive and he's doing some good things. I hope he continues that."

Another move that also might prove just as critical; Clay Walker to center. It's a position he's flirted with his whole career at Washington, having seen action at both center and guard last season. This year he may become a full-timer at that position.

"It was planned and worked out that way," Willingham said of the switch between Walker and Juan Garcia, who was listed as Washington's No. 1 center in the pre-spring depth chart. "Those two initially were backing each other up in our minds. Right now, (Clay) Walker will get the most snaps at center. But always know, it's subject to change."

What is Willingham looking for in his ideal center? "What makes a great center is probably his ability to snap and lead," Willingham said. "He's got the process of being a quarterback mentally in terms of all the calls he has to issue for the team and the offensive line. Then he has the physical skill to block in most systems that we play. Most systems use some type of shaded noseman, so it's a difficult to have to snap and be able to get that guy blocked. It's a very demanding position when you combine those two things."

Garcia has not been relegated at all. In fact, he is working as Washington's No. 1 right guard. Chad Macklin is next to him at right tackle, while Stanley Daniels and Nathan Flowers are the left guard and tackle, respectively. "I think there's still a little rust and a little growth that's taking place in his game," Willingham said of Garcia, noting that the junior hasn't played a snap of competitive football since high school. "He's starting to get comfortable and starting to feel good about what he's doing, because it's been a while."
Red Alert: It appears the Huskies are seeing red this spring after looking at the 2005 conference statistics. While the offensive red zone effectiveness was average (ranked 5th in the conference, scoring 80% of the time), the Huskies' defensive red zone effort may have been the worst in school history. Out of 44 times the opposition was able to get inside Washington's 20-yard line, they came away with points 40 times. That's over 90 percent. "You have to have an attitude and a mentality about the red zone and that was one of the reasons that we started out in that area first, to get that sense of priority, that sense of what has to take place down there and work at it so we can get good at it," he said. "Because usually the things you emphasize are the things you begin to do well in." A plan snaps into action: Of all the junior college transfers, it appears that long snapper Danny Morovick has the best chance of making the biggest impact this fall. For the freshman from Mission Viejo, Calif., it sure looks like he knew snapping was his path to early playing time. "He might have had a plan about what he wanted to do and how to get there," Willingham said. "It's been pretty effective."

Running in threes: When asked about his rotation at running back this spring, this is how Willingham answered. "If we played tomorrow, I would go with Louis Rankin to start, but all three (Rankin, Kenny James and J.R. Hasty) would get activity."

Williams emerging: It's been a while since Corey Williams has been on the minds of Husky fans. Ever since his remarkable touchdown catch in the 2003 Apple Cup, it seems like been an invisible part of the UW receiving corps. But this spring, it appears Williams is ready to bust out of the shadows with a strong 2006 campaign. "He seems to be playing with the most confidence that I've seen since I've been around," Willingham said of the junior from Las Vegas. "He can do some things. He can good routes, make catches and make big plays. We need him to continue that play with confidence and be a leader out there at the wide receiver spot."

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