Practice report - 8/16 AM

Today just didn't start out as hot as it has since camp broke nearly a week ago and the Washington Huskies' play this morning mirrored the weather. As the sun started breaking through the scattered clouds above Husky Stadium, the energy started coming back, and by the time practice was complete the whole team was able to complete 'gassers' without any penalty at all.

The red was out and flowing this morning, as no less than thirteen players were wearing the dreaded 'red shirt'. John Anderson, Greg Carothers, Roc Alexander, Sam Cunningham, Scott Ballew, Stephen Johnson, Nathan Rhodes, Reggie Williams, Paul Arnold, Doug Clarke, Zach Tuiasosopo and Braxton Cleman and Kevin Ware complete the lengthy list of 'walking wounded'. And that doesn't count Jimmy Newell, who is expected to return next week, and Patrick Reddick, Justin Robbins and Derrick Johnson, who presumably will be practicing this afternoon under their 'one-a-day' status. Expect a few of those players in red to give it a go in the afternoon session.

On a positive note, linebacker Matt Lingley was able to put on pads for the first time this camp and even made it through gassers without any difficulty at all. He'll be competiting for a backup spot at MIKE behind Ben Mahdavi.

The team was decked out in what Rick Neuheisel calls 'lightbulbs', meaning full shoulder gear and shorts. This afternoon they will go full pads. Manu Tuiasosopo and Leon Neal were among those watching the action from the track, and Dave 'Softy' Mahler and Steve Sandmeyer were broadcasting live at the stadium on KJR.

For part of Softy's show, Neuheisel was miked for a 'period', allowing listeners the ability to tune in and get an idea as to what happens during a normal practice. He was mostly working with the receivers and quarterbacks again today. Wilbur Hooks Jr., Charles Frederick and Eddie Jackson were the only scholarshipped receivers that participated this morning, and Hooks got a scare when he came down ackwardly on an ankle. He was able to run it off and participate the rest of practice. Hooks and ET looked the best of the bunch, with Frederick continuing to work hard to not only play his position well but also to make sure he's got the playbook down.

As is the case with players being out, others get a chance to prove their worth. This has really been the case with Evan Benjamin, James Sims Jr., Adam Seery and Joe Toledo. All four of them have stepped up their games and proven that they are willing to do whatever it takes to compete for a starting spot. Toledo, in particular, had a strong day catching the ball.

Early on, the morning session languished a little from a viewing perspective, until it came time to start the pads popping. Rich Alexis has come a long ways in his blocking technique, and was able to stalemate Ben Mahdavi in the marquee matchup of 'backer on blocker. Adam Seery got a lot of attention from Chuck Heater, as he was working on his base and 'sitting down' once engaged with the linebacker. This way he maintained his leverage and could drive up and through the 'backer.

Shelton Sampson drew big praise from Heater after he stood up Mike McEvoy, but when he had to go up against Joseph Lobendahn, he found out quickly that Mike is no Joe Lobendahn. Joe gave the frosh a little extra shove for good measure after lighting Sampson up, but the coaches saw it and kept number 53 out of the rest of the blocking drills.

The defense looked a tad different this morning lining up during 11-11's. Evan Benjamin and James Sims Jr. lined up as the number one safeties, and Sam Cunningham, complete with a cast on his right hand, played at the number two DB spot with Eric Shyne behind Roc Alexander and Chris Massey. Derrick Johnson will play this afternoon, and most likely play at the ones with Roc.

Brandon Ala was having a whale of a morning session, but then went to the trainers hut to get his scoped knee some treatment. He came back with an ice wrap, appearing to be nothing more than a precaution. Ala and Donnie Mateaki had back-to-back touch-sacks during the 11-11's. Inside, Josh Miller keeps working hard and is doing his best to be a real pest in the interior. With Jerome Stevens and Miller switching off at the ones, the nose tackle spot appears to be in good hands.

Eric Shyne, Chris Massey and Nate Robinson all had good mornings, especially on a drill where there were 7-7's inside the 10. All three were able to effectively shut off the corners, forcing the QB's to look inside. The offense only scored a couple of times, while the defense got the better of that drill.

The tight ends had a nice practice, with frosh Ben Bandel even getting back into the swing of things with a nice catch off a well-thrown ball by Casey Paus. Joe Toledo is going to be a load. The 6-6, 290-pound TE from Encinitas, California has shown soft hands and a bruising presence that past couple of days. It's tough to imagine Keith Gilbertson not wanting to try to get Ware and Toledo on the field at the same time. They could be a dangerous combination, especially with Tuiasosopo out. It affords Gilby the luxury of maybe trying more one-back, two-tight end sets.




Notes:
Offensive play of the morning: Wilbur Hooks Jr. ran a pretty route to the corner of the end zone and Cody Pickett delivered the ball so that only the senior wide out could get it and not his defender, Eric Shyne. There wasn't a thing Shyne could do with a play that was executed so well. Hooks made the over-the-shoulder grab look positively routine.

Defensive play of the morning: Chris Massey gets some props this morning, taking a sure touchdown away from Wilbur Hooks Jr. on a great job of breaking up the pass just as it was about to be reeled in by Hooks.

Big hit of the morning: It has to be Lobendahn taking Shelton Sampson to school on the blocking drill. Every frosh running back has to go through it, like Ty Eriks and Chris Singleton last year and Rich Alexis the year before. They all got abused. This time it was the man from Honolulu doing the damage, and frankly it wasn't pretty.

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