Dawgbytes - 4/13

Tyrone Willingham likes to keep things short and sweet. But due to the fact that Easter falls within Washington's spring football practice schedule, brevity gets thrown out the window. For the first time in recent memory, the Huskies will take three days off in a row from spring workouts, something Willingham hopes to avoid in the future.

"The thing I'd like to do is have spring practice in just three weeks because I think it's beneficial to our young men," said Willingham Thursday. "It's concise in our work time and it allows them to make the most of the spring from a training standpoint and an academic standpoint."

Easter fell in late March last year, but that didn't change the number of weeks the Huskies used for spring practices (four).

As usual, Willingham wasn't ready to announce clear leaders. "We've showed some flashes offensively, some flashes defensively, and sometimes we don't show those same flashes," he said. "It's that constant give and take back and forth that you have during spring practice, but I still think we're progressing. We've had some good performances in a lot of places, but still that inconsistency comes back."

When asked for specific performers, Alex Mercier was the first one to get plaudits from Willingham. "He's had some pretty good highlights," he said of the walk-on junior college transfer from Seattle. Mercier, according to Willingham, is 'rising' in the depth chart. "Based on what he's done, absolutely he'd get some snaps on the field," Willingham added.

Chancellor Young continues to get noticed by Willingham. "He's becoming more comfortable in knowing the system," he said of the Duke transfer. "He is starting to get more comfortable each day. He's showing himself to be a physical player."

Defensively, Willingham noted the linebacker battle between Chris Stevens and E.J. Savannah as being a heated competition. He noted that senior-to-be Tahj Bomar is heading up the leaders at the middle linebacker position, but he's looking for more from Bomar in his final campaign.

"He's better than he was last season," Willingham said of Bomar. "He's made some improvements. He's a lot more knowledgeale of the system and has made some good plays this spring. But I'm asking more because of the losses from last year. Losing Joe was a pretty big loss" Started last two games - "It was a good springboard into this spring and this season. The more you play, the more confidence you get. Things you do in practice now has more of a feel to it because you've been there. Hopefully that has benefitted him. These last few days is when it all comes together."

One of the emerging battles on offense is the one at left tackle between Nathan Flowers and Ben Ossai. "I anticipated that coming in," Willingham said of the competition between the two. "Before we started, I thought Ben Ossai might be someone we might see something from. When we recruited Ben, if everything fell into place he'd have a chance at some point to be a good football player. He and Nate are embroiled in a pretty good competition for our left tackle spot. That is a critical spot for us because we have to get a guy in there that can protect our quarterback's backside and also give us something from a run-game standpoint. It's a good, old-fashioned competition, and usually the guy that makes the fewest mistakes is the guy that wins the position."

And don't expect both to get a lot of playing time in the fall if things work out the way Willingham envisions. "I'm only 'by-committee' when I'm told to," he said. "They make the decision. I'll let them tell me what happens. If one guy takes over the position and play 80 plays a ballgame, I'm OK (with that)."
Notes:
Injury update: Willingham was asked about the team's current injury situation. "You've got a couple of hamstrings," he said. "That's the extent of it, probably more hamstrings than anything else." Durrell Moss and Chris Hemphill are the main players struggling with hamstring issues. He went on to mention that Marlon Wood is still hampered by the injury he suffered last year against USC. "I don't think it's allowed him to really show all that he has," Willingham said of the junior from Florida, by way of Pasadena City College. Both Sonny Shackelford and Anthony Russo are getting closer to being all the way back, but Jordan White-Frisbee's foot still remains a question mark and Robert Lukevich will definitely be out after sustaining a knee injury during Saturday's scrimmage.

Faces in the crowd: Seen at practice today; Sehome OL Steven Ayers, Interlake Head Coach Luke Huard and Husky signees Ashlee Palmer and Donald Butler.


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