Dawgbytes - 8/12

Out on the field at Husky Stadium, the players went through their first padded practice of fall camp and head coach Tyrone Willingham saw some things he liked and some things he didn't like. The energy was brisk and the players were up and ready to go and a few are starting to settle in to their defined roles so far.

"There's always a natural tendency when you go to full pads to lose just a little bit of the technique you've been working on because the game you've been working on, for some reason, takes on a totally different dimension," Willingham told the assembled media shortly after practice. "So a little of that fundamental, technique stuff you've been prepping on all this time, goes right out the window.

"Overall we had some good energy and continued to make some big plays from a lot of people, but we're still trying to find that same old thing – consistency, consistency, consistency."

One of the players seemingly always making the big plays is WR Marcel Reece. Even with his big body, he's a downfield threat and he's been showing that in recent practices.

"I think he really is doing some good things," Willingham acknowledged. "I think he had a catch the other day that he took about 80 yards, so he's making some plays, but he's not there yet. There's so much he has to learn in that transition, but I think he's going to do a good job because he really wants to."

Of his running backs, Willingham said that a familiar face is still in the lead to get the starting nod on September 2nd versus San Jose State, but also noted the backup is also raising some eyebrows.

"I would say right now that Kenny James has the lead, but Louis Rankin did a wonderful job and he's been doing a wonderful job every day," he said. "I think those are two wonderful compliments for our football team, but if you said ‘who is your starter right now?' it would be Kenny James. But if you said ‘who would get the most plays?' I would tell you, ‘I don't know'."

Also in the mix is converted cornerback Shelton Sampson who made the switch from running back to corner last season and then promptly quit the squad to concentrate on track and academics. He returned to the team during the spring as a defensive back, but because of the loss of RB J.R. Hasty to academics, he returned to the position where he began his Husky career.

"Shelton has done a wonderful job," Willingham said. "He's adjusted back over and he's getting the ball back up inside. The thing we try to teach our running backs is there's a time to go outside and there's a time to plant your foot and go and he's doing a good job with that."

And finally, on the defensive side of the ball, Willingham continued to heap praise on the efforts of junior LB Dan Howell who has earned a gold jersey four days in a row for his outstanding efforts on special teams.

"He's what we're talking about when we talk about developing that consistency," Willingham said. "That you come out every day and work to that level. That doesn't mean it's perfect. There's not a player around, to my knowledge, I mean I haven't coached one that's played a perfect ballgame, so you're striving for that and every day you're trying to get as close to perfection as possible. And he's shown that."

Willingham will continue working on that consistency on Sunday with another workout in the afternoon.

Seeing red: RB Matt Mosley and TE Tim Williams wore red jerseys to denote that they were not to see contact during today's padded practice. Willingham also noted that LB Scott White and DE Darrion Jones received "bumps on the head" during today's action and that LB Matt Houston may have strained his groin.

Reece showing his stuff: Wide receivers coach Eric Yarber couldn't hold back his enthusiasm when talking about Reece.

"He's already good and he wants to be better," Yarber said. "He's always coming over to me and asking me ‘could you critique that route' and ‘how was that route?' and ‘did I get my depth?' and ‘did I do what you wanted?'. He's a guy you guys are going to need to keep an eye on.

Zebras in the house: A crew of Pac 10 officials was on hand to help direct the team through some of he rule changes and to make calls during practice to give players a feel for what the referees are looking for.

"With the referees there, we were just a little sloppy today with our penalties and things like that," Willingham said. "You can't have that, but it's all a learning process for (the players)."

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