Big plays show up at Husky Spring Game

For the last few seasons the Husky offense has been under a grey cloud. Whether it was a dismal running game, poor line play or suspect decision-making from the quarterback position, the Dawgs weren't a big play team. In conjunction with the sunny skies on the shores of Lake Washington that cloud appears to have lifted as the Purple team beat the Gold team 24-3 at Husky Stadium while a crowd of approximately 5,000 looked on.

Senior QB Isaiah Stanback had a solid day completing 5 of 9 for 184 yards and two long touchdowns. He also seems to have learned the fine art of knowing when to pull the ball down and run and when to keep his eyes down field for a receiver to break open.

On the first drive of the game, Stanback hit WR Anthony Russo for a 43-yard score and then speedster Chancellor Young got behind the secondary for a 55-yard touchdown on the next drive.

Stanback and the offense also finished off the first half with a flourish.

After a sack and an incomplete pass, Stanback hit WR Cody Ellis for a 67-yard pass over FS Chris Hemphill who made the tackle at the one-yard line. RB Kenny James punched it in from one yard out as the first half came to a close.

"We both know our own weaknesses," defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. "We made some mistakes but we've definitely improved things. We don't gameplan for this and since they all already know each other so well, it makes it tough.

"I've said it before, if we stay healthy we are an improved team. The players have been in the system for two springs now, so they should be more comfortable with the system and how we want to do things. I think that should show itself at some point."

Defensively, Greyson Gunheim continued to build on his solid sophomore season and was in the backfield several times tipping a Carl Bonnell pass to FB Luke Kravitz who was open in the flat. Gunheim also had a sack of Johnny DuRocher as was a thorn in the side of the "Gold" offense.

"We've been working hard all spring and are just trying to come off the edge and create pressure," Gunheim said following game. "I just need to keep improving and reading my keys and it will come. We're getting there."

A player that Husky fans have looked forward to seeing for over a year is redshirt freshman RB J.R. Hasty. Hasty led all runners with 24 yards, gaining eight on a nifty move to the outside to beat cornerback Roy Lewis to the edge.

"It was good to get out there and run around and stuff," Hasty said. "We're just running hard and seeing stuff all the time. I felt good out there though. It's nice to get out and play and feel like it's live sort of."

Lewis showed excellent coverage on several occasions breaking up a Felix Sweetman to Sonny Shackelford lob pass in the endzone thwarting a "Gold" team scoring opportunity. He also posted a forced fumble when he hit Hasty from behind and finished with six tackles total.

All was not perfect for the Dawgs as they still showed an inability to get a consistent push up front to get any semblance of a consistent ground game. Anything the running backs got was usually off of an outstanding individual effort.

"We're getting better at things, but we still have a lot of improving to do," senior center Juan Garcia said. "Coach (Kyle) Benn has been an excellent coach for us, but we love coach (Mike) Denbrock and he's really been getting after us about improving and working hard."

James, who was running with the first team, was bottled up most of the day gaining only 21 yards on seven carries. Hasty struggled to find any openings and Louis Rankin had the run of the day when he took a pit to the right side, saw there was nothing and then reversed his field getting a block by Bonnell en-route to what would have been a 30-yard run. It was eventually brought back due to a hold by WR Alex Mercier, but Rankin was able to show his considerable speed and quickness.

DuRocher continued to struggle, fumbling two snaps from center and appearing to be slow to make decisions when he did have time. He finished the day 6 of 16 for 65 yards. He was also sacked four times.

Bonnell had some trouble completing passes, but appears to have found a niche as a running threat from the quarterback position. He showed nice zip on the ball on a pass to Shackelford in front of Dashon Goldson and then faked a handoff to Hasty taking it around the right side. It proved to be the longest run of the day, a 36-yard scamper, before he was pushed out by S Jason Wells.

Besides the spotty play of the offensive line, the big negative for the Huskies was the possible loss of redshirt freshman kicker Ryan Perkins. Willingham was unsure of the severity of the injury, but said he wasn't planning on having his young kicker available for the season.

With spring practice concluded the coaches will now head out of town for the May evaluation period and the players will all be attending summer workouts on campus. Willingham said he expected the entire team to stay around for voluntary workouts before camp begins in August.

Dawgman.com Top Stories