Saturday practice updates

Take a look at's day-by-day sneak peek at all of Washington's fall football camp activities, from practice notes and observations to briefing sessions with Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham. Check it out!

(8/26/06 6:27:19 pm)

Willingham evening notes 8/26

No new injuries to report and Willingham noted that he expects to have all who have been held out of practices (Gunheim, Wallace, Wells, Russo, Gage and Book) back by Tuesday ready to practice.

Cody Ellis may take a little longer, but Willingham also mentioned he expected him back on Tuesday as well.

Willingham noted that for the last practice of camp, when the team's focus could wane, that they actually had a good and spirited practice. "No pulling of teeth" was how he described it.

Wiggs and Te'o Nesheim both got gold jerseys for the defense and he said Wiggs particularly did a fine job on the scout team and deserved the recognition.

He said that this practice was no less intense than any other practice because as soon as the coaches get cautious, the player begin to become cautious and he doesn't want that.

Team began to focus on SJSU today during their workouts.

To end practice, the team had players other than kickers kick field goals to determine how few sprints they would have to do. The players made six of eight, but...Isaiah Stanback, for all of his talent is not a kicker.

Apparently, he lined it up, made a big show and then shanked it at about a 45-degree angle to the good-natured boos of his teammates.

The team will take Sunday and Monday off and will begin their game-week prep on Tuesday.

Posted By: Scott Eklund

(8/26/06 4:11:14 pm)

Practice notes 8/26

Gold Jerseys: DT Fred Wiggs and DE Daniel Te'o Nesheim.

** We'll find out later what units each was with, but it's probably safe to assume that Te'o Nesheim was for defense and Wiggs' was for special teams.

Very warm out on the field today. At least 85 degrees (yes I am aware they head to Oklahoma where it was 100-plus today).

No one in red today, but Cody Ellis, Josh Gage and Michael Book all sat out drills doing various exercises under the tutaledge of Trent Greener.

Russo, Wells and Wallace all were in shoulder pads and shorts and all appeared to be taking part in the drills. Russo was assisting coach Yarber during the route-running drills so he may still be feeling the after-effects of Thursday's collision.

Players were pretty energized today.

I watched the offensive line today and Denbrock was running them through their paces. He kept yelling "'House" get lower. Come on 'House' get lower". It was unclear who he was speaking to, but it appeared to be Tolar.

Macklin sat out drills, but was in his shoulder pads and shorts.

The receivers were working on running five yard curl routes, catching the pass and then spinning and heading up field. Wood looks really good coming out of his breaks and Mercier continues to show good hands. Don't be surprised if he sees some time this fall in the wideout rotation.

TE/DE recruit Trey Henderson was in the house with his father and he received a lot of attention from DL coach Randy Hart and head coach Tyrone Willingham. He's got a big frame and his father has one too. He has lots of room to grow.

More later...

Posted By: Scott Eklund

(8/26/06 1:08:05 pm)

Coach Willingham afternoon notes 8/26

As camp is ending today and the players are checking out of their dorm rooms, Willingham said that this camp was much more smooth than last year's camp. He said that the players understand the system, understand what the coaches are asking for and they have all worked hard to get better.

He said he feels very good about the offensive line. Said the five starters are solid and that they are where everything begins.

Said it isn't fair to say that the offensive line in the biggest concern that the team came into camp with. He also noted the secondary and defensive line -- specifically, the ability to get pressure on the QB -- were just as big of a concern in his mind.

Very happy with the camp that CB Matt Fountaine has had and said that Roy Lewis is bordering on a superb camp.

C.J. Wallace has set the physical tone for this team before and he expects him to do that again. He said that because the team doesn't allow players to go full-out that Wallace has pulled back a little on how physical he is because they want to keep the teammates healthy, but come September 2nd, he should be right back to where they want and need him to be.

He said that Dashon Goldson was probably at 70% right now, but that he would be surprised if Goldson DID NOT play against SJSU.

Spoke specifically about the DEs and the speed they have and how that has been integral in making the young/inexperienced OL better. Specifically mentioned that Stevens (4.5), Rayford (4.6), Te'o Nesheim (4.7) and Gunheim (4.5) can really get around the edge well and that they will cause teams problems this fall.

Posted by: Scott Eklund

(8/26/06 12:38:56 pm)

Talked to coach Williams today

First off, there could not be a more positive personality than coach Williams. Always smiling, always seems to have time for everyone. Willingham could not have made a better hire.

Onto the info...

I asked coach Williams to assess the talent currently in the Husky secondary compared to what he had when he came in to Cal in 2002. He said the talent level is very similar and he spoke about how each projected starter (Wallace, Goldson, Wells and Lewis) compared to some of his guys with the Golden Bears and he said the Husky DBs might even be more talented.

Said that all they need to do is build up the confidence, get some wins and this secondary should be pretty good.

Williams loves Roy Lewis. His quote, "Whenever I watch Roy Lewis play, he puts a smile on my face." That says it all. He loves his work ethic and his skills. He said Cal never had a DB as talented as Lewis while he was there, now they just have to get him to play at the level consistently...and he feels Lewis is just about there.

Williams expects all of the injured DBs (Goldson, Wells and Wallace) to be back and 100% (or very close to it) by next Saturday.

He had glowing praise for Mesphin Forrester and said he could easily start on this team. He said that Wells and Forrester are very close in skills and toughness. Where Wells might be a little faster, Forrester might be more physical. He likes Forrester's versatility.

Moss is a player that he said got some good experience in 2005 and they are building on that.

Hemphill needs to get healthy from a nagging quad injury that has bothered him all of camp. Not enough to make him sit out, but enough to hamper his progress.

Williams loves the physicality of his corners. He likes Fountiane's experience and quickness. Murchison and Mosely need to get more experience but he likes what he's seen from them so far.

Overall, Williams said he is very happy to be at UW and that he can see a very bright future for the Husky Deep Patrol.

Posted by: Scott Eklund

(8/25/06 6:44:35 pm)

Evening Willingham briefing

Said the practice today was good and focused. Said they'll start to really focus on game-planning tomorrow and Sunday.

Tomorrow is moving day for those players that are going to leave the dorms for their regular living arrangements, so that spells the official end of fall camp.

Wells, according to Willingham, pretty much practiced all this afternoon, but no contact. Said that's just another testament to his toughness. Said Wallace has also been a tough guy in his career and it's nice to have two guys like that at safety. He called it an 'asset to the team'.

Willie Kava did some limited work today, and because he's been very limited the past few days, that could affect his playing status for SJSU. Chad Macklin got the day off because of a 'slight hyperextension' of his bad knee, but Willingham didn't seem too concerned about any long-term issues with Macklin. During practice, he didn't seem to be limping at all, so apparently the rest was needed just to allow for some swelling in the knee to go down.

Said the three things he wants to achieve between now and game day;
1) Get healthy
2) Solidify backups across the board
3) Develop level of consistency 
He said that at No. 2, backups are already starting to be identified.

Did say that Johnny DuRocher is running No. 3 behind Isaiah Stanback and Carl Bonnell.

Asked about return specialists and Willingham said they are still trying to figure out the best players to use for those positions, given all their other factors (ability, depth at their normal positions, how it'll work within the new 'change of possession' rule, etc...).

Said that he's expecting to use between 'two and four' true frosh this year, not counting Danny Morovick. Wouldn't elaborate yet, because he hasn't talked to the players in question.

Said that there still could be news on the players waiting academic approval this next week.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 5:22:56 pm)

Talked to Mike Denbrock...

Said it's great to be back and feeling good and 'getting our hands dirty'. Said that it's tempting with a great food service to get off his regimen, especially when it comes to cookies, ice cream. 'Everything that tastes good, you can't have', he said.

Said that it's 'critical' that the OL stays healthy. Said that they are building some depth behind the first group, but it's going to take some time for them to really get to the point where they can be counted on for quality minutes.

Said he's 'really happy' with the first group (Ossai, Daniels, Garcia, Walker and Macklin), for the most part. Said it's a good mix and they are getting more used to playing with one another. Said he's been really pleased with their work ethic and how they've come to practice ready to go every day. He thinks they'll do good things.

Asked about the leadership of guys like Daniels and Walker and he said that they have been through the wars and they have been comfortable stepping into leadership roles. Said they have both been real positive with the guys, but have not hesitated to pull guys aside and get after them a little bit if they needed it. Stressed that communication has picked up a lot between plays and during plays. Said that has helped the more inexperienced guys a lot.

Asked about how realistic it's going to be that true freshmen might have to play this fall. He said that he wished that wasn't realistic at all, but with the situation they are in, it might warrant having guys like Tolar and Habben getting right into it. He said he's told them that they are going to have to grow up fast. He'd like to 'keep them on the shelf', and if everything fell into place they should be able to redshirt them - but it's all dependent on how the season goes and how healthy they remain. He said he really likes how they are playing and has seen glimpses of guys that are playing beyond their years.

Asked about the 'glamour position' on the line - the weak tackle spot. Denbrock said that Ben Ossai is growing every day and makes some redshirt-frosh mistakes, but he's getting closer and closer every day to where they want him to be. His work ethic and desire will 'pay dividends' down the road for the team. Said the QB trusts him, and that's a big confidence boost.

Said that Rosborough has come along, and they are still working with his conditioning so that he can help them for long stretches of time instead of short stretches. Said that he's one of the guys that they are really going to have to lean on for quality depth as the year goes along.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 4:43:58 pm)

Evening practice notes

Michael Houston was the first out for practice, catching balls from the punt machine. Cody Habben was the first lineman out. He always makes it a point to at least jog through the far end zone from the tunnel when he first comes out.

The defensive linemen have been doing something a little different. Right when they come out of the tunnel they go dead right to a dummy set up for striking. Each DL gets into a low crouch and does 7-8-9 quick strikes in a row - kind of like a shot of espresso to get the practice off on the right foot.

No gold jerseys today, so Willingham broke the team down and led them in Husky Jacks.

Hemphill and Wells were wearing red (although Wells warmed up). Wallace wasn't in red, but it didn't look like he was going to do much work this afternoon. Same with Russo on offense.

Chad Macklin sat out warmups and was disengaged from most of the early practice activity. I'll find out more on what's going on with Chad. He wasn't wearing red and didn't seem to be limping or anything like that.

The d-tackles looked to have all gotten mohawks, at least at first glance. Reffett has had one for awhile, but JWF and Lobos were sporting them today. Sean Douglas and Quintin Daniels were others that have had noticeable 'hawks during camp. Daniels' was more reminiscent of a Flock of Seagulls-era 'do. It was awfully big.

Willingham showed off his throwing arm a little bit, throwing it roughly 55-60 yards in the air, hitting the east crossbar after the first bounce.

Watched the running backs and fullbacks catching from the punt machine, and it was clear that James and Sampson have a much better handle on the catching responsibilities than Rankin, at this point. All the fullbacks looked pretty comfortable catching the ball.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 2:41:52 pm)

Talked to C.J. Wallace...

Said that he remembers everything, following Russo on a pattern, looking back and then 'the Big Bang Theory happened', in his words. That was the collision with Jason Wells.

Said that it was kind of scary, he couldn't move his hands right away, just a couple of seconds. Saw the replay of it this morning and said that Wells had the ball, but dropped it because of the collision.

Said that it's going to be really nice when San Jose State comes in and Wells can do that to them instead.

Said he will definitely be ready for Saturday's game.

Said that it won't deter him. "It's part of the game, and I still love it," he said.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 2:37:53 pm)

Talked to Lappano...

In brief...

Asked about RB's - said that he likes what they are doing out of the one-back sets, said that's where they are doing most of their damage. Said Kenny is really steady in all aspects. Louis has the big-play potential. Said Shelton did some things yesterday with a couple nice runs, but both are behind Kenny in regards to blocking and receiving. Said that in a normal game situation, he would probably go with the first two backs.

Asked about Kirton - said he's still looking at him in red-zone and short-yardage situations.

Asked about the sloppiness of the scrimmage. Lappano said that the offense is just mentally fatigued after 24 practices. Also said the defense had their own issues. But he said they were happy to come out of it relatively injury-free.

Asked about the time clock. Said it's going to be a judgemental deal, so they are going to have to be ready for crews and what speed they want to use.

Asked about frosh OL - said that right now, it's really tough for them. Not necessarily later in the year, but right now there's just too many things going on. Said he'd probably move Bush or Bulyca over at guard to help shore up depth before using the frosh.

Asked about going up against the DL and he flat-out said that he doesn't think that they'll see a faster set of D-ends all year long. Specifically mentioned Brandon Ala and Chris Stevens, who apparently is going to be getting some more looks on the line like he did last year.

Said the positive out of that is that the OL has been able to go up against those guys all camp long. It's making them better.

Asked about QB's and how it's shaking out, and he said that it's Isaiah, Carl and then the rest.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 2:10:29 pm)

Talked to Baer...

Here are the highlights.

Expects to have Gunheim back in plenty of time for SJSU. Also said that he expects to get all the DB's out back, but also said the only guy he's concerned about is Goldson. He added that he feels Dashon is getting better every day and also was in a 'heavy red zone' day a few days back.

Said that corner is not a whole lot of learning - it's mostly just technique and athleticism, so it would probably be easier for Dashon to come back at corner than at safety.

Said that he didn't get a chance to put as much pressure on the QB last year as he would have liked to, and hopefully he'll be able to this year - even with the defense a little thin in places. Said a lot will depends on how the ILB plays and how much the younger guys learn.

Said that his LB's are different than last year - last year had more playing experience, but this group has been in their system for two years now. But they still have a lot to learn.

Said he doesn't look at Jason Wells as a rookie because of the amount of reps he's gotten. Same with Daniel Te-o Nesheim.

Asked about the differences between Williams and Wilks and he said he likes both of them a lot and think both are very good coaches. Said he feels like they are improved, but that has a lot to do with the maturity of the players coming back.

Asked about the new rule and how it's going to affect the defense. Said there were a few spots yesterday where they were caught off guard. Said you can't be in a base defense when the offense comes out with 5-wide. Said with the spread offense that's en vogue nowadays, getting the matchups right is even more critical. Also said that it's disruptive to a defense's rhythm.

Asked about the DL, said he feels good about that group. Said even without Gunheim, other guys were getting more reps and that's helped to develop more depth.

Asked about Jordan White-Frisbee. Said he's so far behind in terms of practices, but he's moving around pretty well.

Asked about any frosh and whether or not they would contribute - and he said he didn't know. Butler, Mosley and Elisara's names were thrown out and he said he really likes all of them a lot. Said they are all smart and have a lot of upside, but still have a lot to learn and the mental part is just so hard.

Asked about Mateaki, and Baer felt that he's always been an inside guy because of his strength and how he uses his hands. Said that the DL is much improved because of that move, but his foot injury still comes back every once in a while, making it tough for him to run sometimes.

Said that he loves Te-o Nesheim's motor. 'Very little loafs'.

Said he likes what Rayford has done and has seen some improvement. Said one day watching film they had to go back a few times to see one play he made, just to make sure they saw what they saw correctly. Said he still needs to make sure he bends his knees and uses his leverage the way he's capable of.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 1:12:30 pm)

Noon Willingham notes

First he talked about Wallce, Russo and Wells. He said that they initially thought that Wallace had a neck and head injury, so they took all the necessary precautions.

Right now, Wallace was up and around last night, suffering no after-effects. Russo had a thigh contusion and Wells was 'woozy', Willingham said that he didn't even qualify for 'bump on the head' status.

He added that all are doing well and that he expects all of them back either later this afternoon or tomorrow.

Asked about Hemphill being out this morning, Willingham said that Chris has been bothered by a little bit of a thigh bruise all camp and it flared up during the scrimmage, so he was being held out today.

Question was asked about the team and how they responded to the play, and Willingham said that they responded well and they understand the risks you take when you take the field.

Good/bad things from scrimmage - said that the management of the clock by the coaches and players yesterday was much better, especially considering their lack of depth meant some players were playing on both teams, so that 'crosswork' made it even tougher.

Bad things - sloppy on both sides of the ball, too many penalties, too many missed tackles. Talking with Tim Lappano today, he said that the offense right now is very fatigued.

Talked about Isaiah and reiterated what a great camp he's had. Said he's responded to everything well and that his leadership has been solid.

Asked about receivers, said that Corey Williams, Russo and Reece have been bouncing back and forth in terms of making big plays and he thinks that's a positive because it means they now have some depth there.

Said that part of the reason there was some sloppiness on offense is because of the way the DE's worked. With their speed and quickness, they made life very tough on the tackles, and that's exactly what the coaches wanted to see. They wanted the tackles to get thrown into that kind of fire to see how they would respond. Lappano later added that he doesn't think UW will face a quicker set of DE's than the ones they go up against on a daily basis.

Talked about Te-o Nesheim and how he's tackled everything since he got on campus with an unbelievable work ethic. Said that when he goes to lunch today, he'd give it a 'hell of a run' - meaning he even goes about the mundane details of daily life with gusto.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/25/06 11:08:45 am)

Friday morning practice observations

The offensive linemen were the first ones out, followed by all four scholarshipped QB's as a group. Then the running backs and receivers and then the rest of the team filtered out.

Daniel Te-o Nesheim wore gold, the only UW player today to wear the special jersey.

Based on what I heard, it was a three-way collision between CJ Wallace, Anthony Russo and a third player during last night's full-on scrimmage that sent Wallace briefly to the hospital to be checked out for a concussion. That player may have been Jason Wells, as there was a DB wearing red working with the safeties. Wallace was there, but no pads.

Russo looked like he was not going to practice, coming out of the tunnel with a noticeable limp. Chris Hemphill was also sitting out warmups and drills, but I'm not sure why.

Michael Book, Joshua Gage and Cody Ellis were working the stationary bikes, while Michael Houston and Mark Farney were doing conditioning as part of their acclimatization process on the east field.

There were two recruits watching practice, but I don't know who they were. Chris Tormey, Trent Greener and Mike Denbrock all took time to talk to them from the part of practice that I was able to see.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/24/06 4:49:44 pm)

Afternoon practice observations

Today was their major scrimmage day, so they came out and went through all their warmup routines just like they would for game day.

There were a few folks dotting the sidelines today. Jake Locker's family was there. Former UW punter Ryan Fleming was part of the officiating crew doing the scrimmage. Bob Rondeau was there, Dick Baird was there, Jim Kenyon was there, Dr. Roger Larsen was there...

As far as recruiting, Orting LB Adam Robinett was there with HC Marty Parkhurst. No Leon Jackson sightings...

It was the purple team, captained by Isaiah Stanback, against the white team, captained by Johnny DuRocher. The purple won the toss and elected to receive. The returners were Marlon Wood and Matt Mosley. The gunners on the kickoff team were Matt Fountaine and Roy Lewis.

Stanback's team had a three and out, punted to DuRocher's team, who got a first down behind a pass to Tim Williams and a run by Shelton Sampson before punting on another three and out. They punted to Stanback's team, who got a first down on a third-and-long run by Stanback before the media was escorted out of practice.

One thing of note is that frosh FB Paul Homer was the up-man on all the punts, and frosh WR D'Andre Goodwin got to field the first punt, which he fumbled. He was able to pounce on it to retain possession for the white team.

Here are some basic breakdowns (take them with a grain of salt, because guys were jumping around and moving in and around with different teams)

first-team OL was Ossai, Daniels, Garcia, Walker and Macklin. Second team was Rosborough, Tolar, Bush, Bulyca and Berglund. In my opinion, Bulyca or Bush would be moved around to be that 'fourth' guard in the rotation before playing the true frosh in Tolar. I'm sure they would love to redshirt him if at all possible.

first-team DL was Te-o Nesheim, Afoa, Mateaki and Ala. Second-team was Rayford, Reffett (and Lobos), White-Frisbee and Darrion Jones (and Walt Winter). Gunheim, like Dashon Goldson, warmed up, but didn't look like they were going to play.

First-team LB's were Tahj Bomar, Chris Stevens and Dan Howell, backed up by Trenton Tuiasosopo, E.J. Savannah and Scott White.

At the DB spots, the first-team corners were Matt Fountaine and Roy Lewis, backed up by the trio of Jordan Murchison, Matt Mosley and Mesphin Forrester. At safety it was C.J. Wallace and Jason Wells, backed up by Chris Hemhill, Durrell Moss and Forrester.

Offensively, Corey Williams and Anthony Russo got the starting nod at receiver. At tailback, James and Rankin were running with the purples, and Sampson was with the whites.

The purple tight ends were Mike Gottlieb, Rob Lewis and Johnie Kirton.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/23/06 6:37:46 pm)

Willingham evening notes

Said today's practice had good pace and good tempo. He seemed to be pleased with the effort and the teaching that was going on.

Corey Williams was the only player in gold again this evening, something that he earned as a result of his work this morning.

No injuries that he could remember...said that the splint that Johnie Kirton was wearing on his hand and wrist was nothing major at all and nothing that required extensive evaluation or an MRI

Someone asked about Durrell Moss and Willingham said that he's still putting in good work at safety and would probably stay there because of the very limited work he's had at corner this fall and also because Chris Hemphill, Mesphin Forrester and Jason Wells were playing a little bit better. Moss did start against USC and at Arizona State last year at CB.

Asked about players he may not have thought would be leaders stepping up this fall and Willingham said he didn't think anyone really fit that scenario. Said that they are getting leadership from the usual places...mentioned Stanley Daniels, Isaiah Stanback, Clay Walker and Corey Williams.

Asked about Michael Houston not being at the beginning of practice and Willingham said he was running late because of the required acclimatization and academic orientation the NCAA requires for players coming into fall camp.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/23/06 4:47:20 pm)

Wednesday p.m. practice notes

Not too much to talk about...

Hugh Millen, Dick Baird and Jim Kenyon were among those that were in attendance. Sean Douglas' father Steve has been watching camp for about a week now, IIRC. Ryan Bush's father Tom has also been seen at a bunch of practices this fall.

Corey Williams once again was wearing gold, the only person on the team to be doing so this afternoon. Greyson Gunheim was at practice, but was last seen grabbing a stationary bike. Michael Book, Willie Kava, Cody Ellis and Joshua Gage were also riding bikes today.

Michael Houston was not seen at practice today - don't know what the reason, but we'll ask Coach Willingham tonight about it.

I know rumors have been swirling about Leon Jackson and the Jacksons being over at UW to check out registration. Well he either isn't at UW or is still busy trying to figure out what the registration process is all about, because he wasn't seen at either Washington practice today.

Went over to the east field for the end of our allotted time to watch the defense, and especially the defensive backs. Coach Williams instruction today was geared more toward stripping the ballcarrier and securing the loose football. He was trying to get them to mold their bodies around the ball without rolling over and becoming exposed to 'the pile'.

Some number changes today. Because Kyle Trew wears No. 20, Jason Wells is now No. 26. Because Matt Fountaine is No. 6, Matt Mosley changed his jersey to No. 19.

Earlier in the week, Shelton Sampson and Troy Perry swapped 27 and 7, so Shelton is now back in his recognizable number from earlier in his career.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/23/06 9:42:53 am)

Wednesday a.m. practice notes

Kellen Kiilsgaard was there, and it looked like his girlfriend was there as well. At some point during the time that I was there, Chris Tormey, Tim Lappano, Eric Yarber and Coach Willingham all stopped by to say hi, shake his hand and talk for a little bit.

Full pads this morning. I didn't see Gunheim participating in drills, so they may have given him the day off (that's my deduction based on what I saw/didn't see, so please don't take it as fact until it's verified). Ellis, Book, Kava and Gage were the ones riding bikes today.

Corey Williams was the only one wearing gold today.

Coach Baird was there, so I asked for his general observations of this group.

First thing he said is that, because of his background in personnel (RC), he naturally likes to look at the youngsters that have been brought into the program. He said that if he had his way, every single frosh would be redshirted except for a couple. He said that Donald Butler totally reminds him of Lester Towns, when Lester came into the program. "No more of these 6-0, 210-pound guys," Baird said.

He also said that he's been impressed with De'Shon Matthews and that he could possibly get a look if Gunheim doesn't come back for a few weeks. Same goes with injury and Matt Mosley - but he'd like to ideally RS Mosley.

He also mentioned Luke Kravitz. Said that he's really built himself up well. Even though the roster says 225, Baird feels like Luke is up to 245 at least. Dick said that Kravitz has the 'blend of position', meaning he can run well with the ball, but he's also good when they decide to dump him the ball out of the backfield. Baird mentioned that he watched Kravitz in HS and he was a good trap/inside runner, but he also catches well - and that's important in this offense that Lappano likes to use.

But he said that overall, the team is 'precariously thin' and that they need to be lucky and avoid injuries in games and in practices. He added that they need to bring in a whole offensive line for next year's class. By his numbers, they have 15 scholarshipped seniors and 71 total players on rides, so they need to get 'two full classes in'. There's also 35 juniors (third and fourth-year players), so he expects they'll take around 22 players for each of the next two classes. They are also thin with specialists, so he expects they'll also bring in a P/PK too.

After personnel, he said the next thing he's seeing is that all the pieces seem to be in place. He said that the kids clearly know what's expected of them, they work hard, they are used to the now it all has to translate into wins.

I asked him that he probably saw a lot of the same things when he was coaching, and that staff was able to translate those teachings/hard work into 'w's. So what's the difference?

The two things he said? Personnel and continuity. Because it's obvious how thin they are, they are still getting to the point where the cupboard is full - and it will take some more time. But because there is continuity - the staff isn't going anywhere, no-one is looking over their shoulder, the NCAA isn't sniffing around Montlake anymore, etc...they can now really impliment their system and develop talent like their predecessors for the last 3-4 years weren't able to do.


No media session at the shellhouse today, so don't expect any Willingham briefing notes until this evening. There will be another practice report later today.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/22/06 6:57:14 pm)

Willingham evening notes

He said the pace of practice was good Tuesday.

Also said that they appeared to come out of practice pretty healthy. Did say that Goldson did some limited work, but added that a high ankle sprain can sometimes be so severe that it might almost be better to have a broken ankle. Asked if this was something that would probably affect Dashon the whole year and he said that it may go on all year long, especially due to the fact that there are no bye weeks - therefore no recovery time.

If the San Jose State game were tomorrow, Gunheim and Ellis would not be available. Asked who would start at corner, Willingham said it would be Fountaine and Lewis, backed up by Murchison, Forrester (doing all DB spots) and also Matt Mosley. He wouldn't go as far to say that Mosley would play for sure this year.

Willie Kava has a knee flareup, something Willingham said he's been battling his whole career. Ryan Tolar and Casey Bulyca were mentioned by Willingham as getting reps in Kava's absence. He was at the No. 2 left guard before the flareup.

Asked about the yellow jerseys for the kicking team (including Danny Morovick) and he said that it was a 'smart suggestion' to do that for the team to make them realize that they are off limits for hitting, just like the QB's.

Even though Willingham is concerned about depth in a few areas, he said that it has not affected the coaches' plans that they started for the fall.

Asked about any of the receiver positions shaking out, and Willingham said that, while there have been some good individual days, they have been dropping too many passes as a whole.

Shelton Sampson is back to his old No. 7, a change that will most likely stick for the season. Troy Perry traded with him, but it's unclear if Perry will wear No. 27 for the whole season.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/22/06 4:14:30 pm)

Tuesday afternoon practice notes

Shells and shorts today.

There were a few interested spectators, including Rick Redman and Ron Crockett. Former UW OL Matt Fraize was there with his wife and daughter. Aaron Mason was also at practice.

It appears that Shelton Sampson and Troy Perry have switched numbers. Either that, or Troy Perry has taken Sampson's place with the running backs and Sampson is now a receiver. I doubt the latter is accurate.

No on in red today, although Gunheim, Michael Book, Willie Kava and Joshua Gage were all using the stationary bikes on the south side of the field. The kickers today wore the same yellow that the QB's did, perhaps something the coaches wanted to do after Book hurt himself the day before.

Watching Jake Locker handing the ball off to Michael Houston certainly conjured some images of 'what might become'...

Dashon Goldson was doing some footwork drills, and apparently trying to tough them out as best he can, because he was noticeably limping.

From the limited amount of what the reporters saw, today's practice looked pretty sloppy. The linebackers ran a drill where the last thing they do is catch a ball after a deep drop and they went 0/4. The tight ends also looked to have trouble catching passes today.

The most interesting drill I saw today featured the offensive linemen. Two linemen squared up against each other, putting their faces right up against a bag separating the two. On the whistle, they would lose the bag and then it was a total leverage battle. Whoever had it, would win.

Rob Lewis and frosh OL Matt Sedillo were matched up more than a few times, and the veteran TE showed the young man from San Diego that he needs to work on his strength if he is going to be a force down the road.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/22/06 1:56:25 pm)

Willingham noon briefing

Willingham first let everyone know that there was nothing new on the academics front and that also nothing new on the injury front.

Only gold jersey today will be Roy Lewis - defense. Asked when the last time offense won a gold jersey and it was four days ago. Stanley Daniels, IIRC. Willingham said that there have been guys on offense that have been close, but just haven't gotten to that level.

Asked about first impressions on Michael Houston, and Willingham said that since he's still getting acclimated and that there's no reason to rush him since he's going to sitting out anyways, he hasn't been focused on him. Houston will get his first shot in pads on either Friday or Saturday, depending on when they run full pads.

Since Houston praised Stanback as a host, someone asked Willingham if IS is the ideal rep for the program. Willingham said that has proven the merits of the University and that has also gratuated. Said he holds himself in an 'upright and genuine' manner and that Isaiah does a great job of representing himself and his family.

The rest of the briefing had to do with the new rules - two specifically. The first is the new timing rule that states the clock will start on a change of possession when the referee decides it's 'ready to play'. Of course, since that will be at each ref's discretion, it's going to be a very interesting thing to watch this fall. Most teams that have great offenses - like USC, for example - will most likely negate this rule by just coming out to the line of scrimmage directly instead of huddling up.

Willingham is not a fan of the new rule. He said that college football is a 'wonderful game' and that he hasn't heard fans that come to the games looking to see a shorter game. He said they come looking for the whole college football experience. "I'm disappointed with the move in that direction," he said.

The point was raised that the new clock rules and the lesser number of plays per game that are bound to result might actually help a rebuilding team like Washington. Willingham said that, in theory, that was true. But it still depends on the gameplan and what you're trying to accomplish. He added that with the new rules you could play the game like one big 'four-minute drill', meaning you would milk the clock down to just a couple of seconds on the clock with each possession. With all that, he's still not in favor of it.

He was also asked about the replay rule, which will be pretty identical to the Big-10 rule, and was in play last year. There is, in essence, going to be an extra official that will be in a booth specifically watching every play for those controversial plays that need to be reviewed. Coaches for either team will have a challenge they can use at any time during the game, but they only have one. They will call a timeout in order to use the challenge, and if the play is overturned you get your timeout back.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/22/06 12:31:36 pm)

Talked to Michael Houston

Said he feels like a 'Dawg' and that he's hungry to help UW and Coach Willingham win championships and Rose Bowls.

Said that at one point, there were eight TB's at Texas and that he was going to get moved to FB because the coaches told him he was the prototype FB body. He wants a chance to prove himself at RB.

He left Texas before the BCS game. Coaches said he could go, but he had too much respect for the team and he knew his heart was elsewhere.

So he called up Coach Willingham and talked about wanting to come to UW. Said it's always been a big deal to him to get coached by a coach like Willingham.

He also added that he had been watching the Pac-10 and noticed how bigger backs like LenDale White and Corey Dillon had done really well out west.

Said that he mustered up some highlights and sent them out. Attended the Community College of Aurora, just outside of Denver.

Cal and Colorado State were the other schools that he considered, but UW was No. 1 on his wish list. He wanted to try and make it in for spring, but couldn't make the deadline academically. But he visited UW the last week of June with his father. He called the visit 'beautiful' and Seattle 'paradise' and said his father had never been on a plane or outside the state of Colorado before. Said Stanback was his host and he said IS was 'top-class'.

He didn't take any other visits.

He tried to get the teachers at CCoA to help speed up the process of getting his transcripts and stuff in order, but the process just took too long, so that's why he showed up when he did. He said he probably became a pest to the UW coaches and staff because he was calling every day to find out if they had received the paperwork needed to get him cleared and enrolled.

When Willingham called his Mom and she told Michael, he said he cried. He was so happy to get moving and get to Seattle.

Asked about his style and he said that he knows that his old coach compared him to LenDale White. He said he's mainly a power back, but 'I have some footwork too'. Said that he'll take the White comparisons any day.

I'll have more on Houston later today.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 7:28:09 pm)

Evening Willingham briefing

Talked about how the evening practice was 'not bad', but again seemed to touch on the inconsistencies of play and how the team is trying to work on that. Said that they had 'balance' on the short yardage scrimmage that they ran today.

Asked about Cody Ellis - said it's probably a 'week-to-week' shoulder thing, but nothing broken. "We'll see how he progresses," Willingham said.

Asked about Houston, and Willingham said that the reason he didn't show up sooner was because he was finishing up classes at a JC. Willingham couldn't remember which JC it was. Said they they thought he might come in as early as the first Wednesday of fall camp, but the schedules just didn't work out. Reiterated that they are making very sure that a player is 'absolutely in' before having them join the team.

Someone asked about Jovon O'Connor - Willingham said that there have been 'flashes of brilliance', but that he's still looking for that consistency to put him in the thick of the battle.

White-Frisbee and Lobos worked both practices today.

Eric Berglund has a foot injury that Willingham termed 'day-to-day'. Sound like maybe it got stepped on...

Dashon Goldson had 'limited work' today.

Michael Book had his knee rolled during the morning session, but Willingham didn't believe it to be a serious injury. "It's probably more a hyperextension than anything else," he said, but didn't want to speculate on a timetable for his return.

Savannah was the only one wearing red today, but Willingham said his status is unchanged. He added that he believes every linebacker this fall has probably suffered at least one 'stinger', and that with E.J.'s history with the injury, they want to be doubly-careful with him.

Shelton Sampson was on the sidelines today and Willingham said he was working through a thigh bruise and that he'll be fine. Willie Kava had a flareup injury that Willingham also felt was not serious.

Some questions were asked about the two-deeps in reference to the receivers, and Willingham was not ready to wed himself to a set two-deep at any of the positions. Felt like Russo's place inside with the slot has been good for them because of his quickness, while Corey Williams would likely be more of a split/flanker. Also said that Sonny Shackelford never wants to leave the field and would play defensive back too if he could get away with it. Said that he feels Marcel Reese is more of an inside receiver at this point, but also feels like he could be moved around to take advantage of certain situations.

Asked about the gold jersey and Brandon Ala. Willingham confirmed that Brandon won it for defense and said that, despite having Gunheim currently out that Ala, Daniel Te-o Nesheim and Caesar Rayford are working hard and creating a solid group of rush ends. "They've shown speed and quickness around the edge," Willingham said. He added that Te-o Nesheim has been setting a 'fierce pace' ever since he got to UW, and the one time he didn't (last year during a scrimmage) he was told about it by his coach and he's been back to the way he always is. Te-o Nesheim was taught in high school by former UW offensive line standout Bern Brostek.

Willingham was asked about the inside linebacker battle and he said that Bomar, Tuiasosopo and Butler are all in a 'dawg fight', and when pressed about Butler pushing past Tuiasosopo he would either confirm or deny. In my opinion, I believe it's Bomar running at No. 1 and Trenton at No. 2.

I spoke with Wilson Afoa today and he feels his group is noticeably tougher than last year. When asked about the team being the same way, Willingham said that he doesn't call it toughness. He calls it a work ethic, a working bond to try to be the best that they can be. "They are hanging in and fighting," Willingham added.

Asked if guys are getting to the point where they want to start hitting someone else besides their own teammates, Willingham was emphatic.

"No. Survival comes first, then game week."

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 4:37:39 pm)

Monday practice notes

Finally got a chance to see Braunstein kick a little bit. Solid leg. Morovick was short-snapping and Sean Douglas was holding.

Full pads this morning, so today it was just lightbulbs and shorts.

Michael Houston's number? 34. Mark Farney was wearing 48. Houston gave his height and weight at 6-1 and 238 pounds. He is about the same height as Louis Rankin, so if he is off, he's not by much. Was working with the running backs like he never left, but obviously didn't have any pads on (acclimatization period). And for those that are going to ask the inevitable question - what did he look like? - he looked just like another guy out there. Until he plays for real, there's no telling what kind of a player he's going to be for UW.

Willie Kava and Shelton Sampson were riding stationary bikes and working with trainers and medicine balls. I'll ask Willingham later, but sore hammies, maybe?

Gunheim was not in red this afternoon, the only player that was was Savannah. But he didn't participate in any pre-stretching drills, and Eric Berglund looked to have a gimpy right knee/ankle.

Both Aaron Mason and Ashlee Palmer were at practice - both in street clothes.

Today's lone gold jersey went to Brandon Ala. I'm assuming defense.

That's about it for now...

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 3:24:17 pm)

Spoke with Randy Hart at lunch today.

Asked him about Wilson Afoa and Daniel Te'o Nesheim, two of the more consistent performers on the DL this fall...

Te-o Nesheim - "He's a redshirt freshman, so he's yet to prove anything. He's working hard, but he's not battle-tested yet. He's going to be in the mix. He's a tough guy and it's important to him, so he's got a tremendous future. But he hasn't done it yet."

Afoa - "Wilson has done a good job of being a consistent performer."

Asked about the health of Gunheim - "I'm not a trainer. When he comes back, we'll take care of him." He added that Caesar Rayford, Brandon Ala and Darrion Jones as the three players that have been working behind Gunheim. He said they are all pretty much interchangeable."

"There isn't any saving anybody right now. We need to win games," he said when asked about the idea of saving a known quantity like Gunheim for the rest of fall camp.

Also asked about the prudence of playing Gunheim on special teams. "It's a play, so why wouldn't you want to have your best players out on plays? You'd let 25 plays a game be played by non-starters? You wouldn't think of doing that on offense or defense," Hart said, and quickly added - "That's just one man's opinion."

Lobos played on Saturday, and White-Frisbee played, but both were 'rusty'," according to Hart. "He said that both are really not ready to play. "You can't just walk out there and play," he said.

Asked about true frosh Cameron Elisara working with the second team on goal line this morning. "He's getting reps," Hart said. "The decision to play him won't be made until Saturday at the earliest. You might play him game-to-game until you get in the second half, and then you make the decision to keep playing him (or try and save his redshirt)."

Hart said that Elisara normally wouldn't be making it a tough decision for the coaches because of his age and strength, but he is getting a lot of reps right now and that's determining where he plays.

Hart's general observations on Saturday... "We'd like to be better than what we showed," he said, adding that he was probably more upset at Gunheim getting hurt. "But we have to be a better team. That has to be our challenge. I would not have wanted to play anybody other than ourselves on Saturday."

He added that Rayford hasn't gotten any bigger, but he's better. "His pads are getting down, he's getting better - he's improved."

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 12:33:33 pm)

Just talked to Gunheim...

...and he said that he's rehabbing his knee and he totally expects to be ready for San Jose State.

Said it was a little scary at first because he has never missed a rep since coming to Washington. No MRI required, just rest.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 12:26:13 pm)

Willingham noon briefing

Willingham started off the briefing by stating that there had been an addition to the roster. Michael Houston, a 5-11, 238-pound running back who originally had signed with Texas and played in one game last year for the Longhorns, was joining the team on Monday. He was at practice, but couldn't participate. He'll most likely finish up his paperwork, have his physical and be out with the team this afternoon, Willingham added.

He will have three years to play three once he sits out the 2006 season per NCAA transfer rules.

Willingham also added that Mark Farney, a walk-on linebacker, would also be re-joining the team after playing with them in the spring. He finished up his 'B' summer term coursework and will be back with the team this afternoon. Both Farney and Houston will have to go through their five days of acclimatization, so it's shirts and shorts for right now.

More on Houston...Willingham said they had some contact with him at ND while he was being recruited, but didn't offer him a scholarship because he had already committed to Texas before they were ready to do so, but he added that they would have been 'very excited' to offer him at that point, had they gotten that far.

Gunheim update - Willingham said that it would probably be somewhere 'between one and three weeks' of recovery for the junior DE's knee injury he suffered Saturday. No surgery is required, just time to heal. In his place, Willingham said that Brandon Ala and Caesar Rayford have been getting the most activity in Gunheim's absence. He added that both have improved their play and have added a 'physical dimension' to their games.

Willingham was asked about playing Gunheim on special teams, and he said that you always put your best players on the field. He then queried the press corps about Reggie Bush playing special teams.

Asked about Cameron Elisara coming up in the two-deeps and whether or not his redshirt might be burned...Willingham said that there are no redshirts right now and you're always looking for the best players. He added that there could be a few freshmen that make impacts beyond the two-deeps.

Asked if after watching the film if he had the same opinion of Saturday's scrimmage and he said he did. He characterized it as 'sloppy', and added that they may have done some things to help influence that.

Asked about the new rule with the running clock, and he said that he'd prefer to have as many snaps as possible, but that it could also be a 'game-by-game' thing, depending on what they were trying to do.

Said that the fact that Roy Lewis was the only gold shirt this morning (for defense, but Willingham said Lewis could have gotten if for both defense and special teams) was not a reflection of the fact that the Saturday scrimmage was sloppy and that no offensive player earned a gold jersey for this morning.

Asked about the Dirk Koetter situation down in ASU with Rudy Carpenter and Sam Keller, and Willingham said he has not been in a situation like that, but also said that he's always trying to get a 'constant sense' of how players like playing with the guy next to them.

This morning Willingham got his team together before stretching and was asked about it. He said that it's just like people going to work after a vacation...when you get a break, it's tough to get started and pick up where you left off. Said that while they didn't practice on Sunday, they did a lot of other things that were just short of practicing (weight room, walkthroughs, meetings, etc...).

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 11:58:19 am)

Willingham just announced that...

Michael Houston is with the team and is expected to start going through his five days of acclimatization this afternoon.

Hopefully he'll be available to the media tomorrow.

Spring walk-on Mark Farney is also re-joining the team after finishing up his summer 'B' session work.

I'll have a more detailed report shortly.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/21/06 9:54:47 am)

Monday morning practice observations

Back to the last week of the grind before game week.

Greyson Gunheim was the only player wearing a red shirt today. He had a slight, but noticeable limp, but was walking around without ice. It was a padded practice, but EJ Savannah was not wearing pads. Cody Ellis wore a sling, but took it off for some warmup drills, so whatever his issue is (clavicle?), it doesn't appear to be broken.

Roy Lewis was the only player wearing gold today. Don't know if it was for defense or special teams.

Willingham did something different today. Usually after working a little bit at their positions, the team would run to the closed end to start their stretching. But instead of starting it, he quickly gathered the team together and it looked like he was giving them some sort of pep talk. They then moved out into their normal positions to start stretching, and the talking and 'pep' noticeably increased.

To start 'practice', the team scrimmaged goal-line. Mark Palaita scored two touchdowns in three attempts by the No. 1 offense. Chris Stevens stuffed Isaiah Stanback at the line to give the D their one win against the ones.

With the twos, Cameron Elisara, Walt Winter and Caesar Rayford were among those working with the second goal-line defensive unit. Johnie Kirton and Carl Bonnell scored, but the defense was able to also get a stuff of their own on the second play.

So overall, the offense scored four out of six times from the goal-line in their one try.

Just as I was leaving, Aaron Mason came out of the tunnel in street clothes. Willingham met up with him around the 50-yard line, had about a 30-second conversation with him, and then Mason went to go watch the offensive line.

We'll see if this Mason sighting means something different. He's been around a few times during fall camp, but as of today still hadn't received clearance to play.

Posted by: cfetters
(8/20/06 9:28:38 pm)

Michael Houston

We're hearing that Michael Houston checked into the dorms about an hour ago, so it looks like this story might have some legs.

We'll see how much TW wants to talk about him tomorrow...

Posted by: cfetters
(8/19/06 10:09:21 pm)

Additional practice notes 8/19

I forgot to add some things to my original post.

In the east endzone, the Huskies have brought in stainless steel bleachers (brand new) and they are raised up. No more sitting on those crappy benches that when they got soggy...they were pretty nasty.

Roy Lewis, if he stays healthy, has a very good chance to be All-Pac 10 this year. He broke on several passes and he looked like he was shot out of a canon. He was physical and it really seems like J.D. Williams is having a very, very positive effect on him.

The linebackers are going to hit some people this year. There were some major collisions in there today. Trenton Tui and Mark Palaita went head-up a couple times and Tui didn't give ground at all and Palaita is a very good lead blocker.

Tahj Bomar is ripped. Big arms and no fat on him at all. I think he's better suited outside, but he'll see time inside this year, although I think that Tui will be the starter there for the SJSU game.

Brandon Ala was a factor and rotated with Gunheim and Rayford at the DE position. He's bigger and seemed to be much more active. He'll see time in the DE rotation this fall, especially is Gunheim is out for any extended period.

Frosh WR D'Andre Goodwin has excellent hands and showed good quickness. He needs to get stronger, but he'll be a very good player in a year or two.

Cody Habben, Ryan Tolar and Matt Sedillo are going to be a nice foundation for the future of the Husky line. Habben has good feet, but needs to get bigger. Tolar is the exact opposite. He needs to improve his footwork, but he's plenty big (but not very fat...he's in pretty good shape). Sedillo is a guy who needs a few years in the weight room to really push for time, but he looks like he "gets it".

I was very encouraged by the way the running backs hit the hole much better and quicker this year. James is definitely running with a lot of confidence.

Stanback throws much better on the run than he does dropping back. He still isn't very accurate, but his athleticism is ridiculous. I think he'll make more plays this year, but he is still very much of a work in progress.

Locker on the other hand is very accurate and has excellent mechanics. Once he gets the system down...the sky really is the joke!!!

Posted by: Scott Eklund
(8/19/06 6:43:15 pm)

Afternoon practice 8/19

Husky coaching staff allowed the media to watch the entire practice today. The team had officials in to help the team to get used to the new rule changes and the "timing" between the ball being placed and the start of the clock.

On the injury to Greyson Gunheim. He actually wasn't carried off the field. He was helped off the field and walked gingerly to the sidelines, but it was mostly under his own power. He had ice placed on his right knee, but he was never taken into the training room and he walked around the field watching the rest of practice.

It appeared that the knee stiffened a little, but it did not appear, at least to watch him walk on it and the way the coaching/training staff was handling it that it appeared they thought it was bad.

"Unfortunate, but it was a knee injury and we're not quite sure of the extent of it. We'll have an idea of how severe or minor it is sometime tomorrow," was the quote of Willingham after practice also noting.." That is, what I consider to be an all-star player for us. Anytime he goes down it effects what you do on your football team.

Two gold jerseys were visible today...

P Sean Douglas and DT Wilson Afoa.

Players in red today were: Jordan White-Frisbee, Darrion Jones and Wade Gurnett.

Cody Ellis (who was in a sling) had a slight fracture of the clavicle, but Willingham said he didn't expect him to miss too much time.

Marcel Reece (blister), Desmond Davis (hamstring) and Justin Gage all sat out drills today, but were in full-pads.

Dashon Goldson saw limited action, but he was running pretty well and hitting during tackling drills.

There was at least one or two scouts in the crowd on hand today. The Washington Redskins representative spent a lot of time looking at the defensive players Top Stories