Tough day for offense in first scrimmage

The first day of full pads and full-contact work for any football team is an exciting time and that was the case for the Washington Huskies today as they held a scrimmage at Husky Stadium. Lots of alumni were in the house to watch what was a lively practice that saw the defense dominate the offense, with a few notable exceptions.

Everyone wants to know how QB Jake Locker is coming along and according to him he's getting more comfortable with things, but he's still a long way from getting where he needs to be.

"I'd say about a six," Locker said when asked about an overall grade for his performance on Saturday. "I have some room to improve. I missed a ‘94' down on a third and six and we had him wide open, I think if I would have hit him he might have been able to take it to the house for a touchdown.

"I felt pretty comfortable. All the plays that coach called I was very comfortable with and I knew what I was doing."

Locker throw a nice touchdown pass to Marcel Reece as he rolled to his left and zipped a pass to his big receiver right at the pylon.

Locker was also intercepted on a tipped pass that fell into the arms of LB Dan Howell. Howell gathered the ball in and streaked for the endzone, but at the five he was met by Locker.

"If I'm going to throw an interception I'm sure as heck not going to let the guy score after he picks it off," Locker said with a laugh.

"I knew what was going to happen," Willingham said of Locker's tackle on the sideline. "You've got two competitive guys and there's going to be a meeting and they met.

"Nothing surprised me about that one."

Pushing Locker for the number one spot is senior QB Carl Bonnell who seemed to also feel pretty comfortable under center.

"I think we had a good week," Bonnell said. "We had way too many interceptions and we didn't finish enough drives, but we moved the ball okay at times and that's a good start for spring."

Bonnell is recovering from offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder and said that he's still working on getting his accuracy back.

"I've been a little errant in my passes," Bonnell admitted. "I need to get a little more accurate and I think that's just going to come with time.

"I'm usually a pretty accurate passer, but I need to pick that up over the next couple of weeks."

Bonnell was very accurate on a 41-yarder to TE Michael Gottlieb who had gotten behind safety Darrin Harris. While it was the longest play of the day, Bonnell thought it should have been longer.

"I think we should have gotten more yards on that," Bonnell said. "It was a play action and I kind of took my eyes off the receivers and the defense to make the fake and I turned back around and he was wide open. I put it up there and I wasn't really sure who else was around there so I just tried to make sure he caught the ball and get the ball at least in the middle of the field."

Another player who seems to know what he's doing so far this spring is RB Louis Rankin who ran the ball well for much of the day. Some of that can be attributed to good blocking from his line, but a lot of it is a decisive running style that hasn't been seen in Rankin's game to date.

"I've always said Louis is going to make some plays," Willingham said regarding his senior tailback. "I think each year that Louis is in the system he gets more comfortable with what he's doing and that comfort to me is knowledge and that allows you to do things a little bit better. I think his knowledge is making him a better runner."

Rankin had runs of 34 and 19 yards, the two longest running plays of the day, but also made quicker decisions and didn't go down with the first contact.

There were a number of standout players on defense today. Led by LB E.J. Savannah who seemed to be everywhere.

"Defense should always have the upper hand," Savannah said with a laugh. "Jake is a stud, so we're just trying to contain him all day.

"J.R. (Hasty) and Louis were all giving us problems all say, but for the most part the defense held it pretty good."

Savannah also had a safety as he "sacked" Locker on a goal-line drill.

"I came in under control, because Jake is a slippery guy and if you come in there without breaking down he's going to out of the pocket and cause some havoc so I just tried to come in under control and get that safety," Savannah said.

DE Greyson Gunheim also added a safety as well as constant pressure off the right side.

While the offensive line had their moments, the defensive front seven really set the tone.

On one play, DE Ceasar Rayford, who had an excellent day rushing the passer, tipped a pass thrown by Bonnell in the air and it was gathered in by DT Erick Lobos.

On another play, DT Cameron Elisara got enough penetration to blow up a running play to the left.

DT Derek Kosub even made his presence felt, slowing up Hasty enough to let LB Chris Stevens clean up.

Jordan White-Frisbee was a welcomed addition to the line as well, really driving well off the ball. He and Ryan Tolar both looked good when they were called on the run block.

The Huskies will take tomorrow off before resuming practice on Monday.




Short-yardage anyone?: Willingham was asked who the short-yardage back would be and he said nothing will be decided until spring or fall.

"Those decisions are in the future," Willingham said. "Right now you would have to say that that would be Luke Kravitz, but that will all work out in the fall."

Competition is the name of the game: Other than middle linebacker where Dan Howell is "head and shoulders above the rest of the guys" and the defensive front four, it appears that every other position on the field is going to be in heavy competition throughout the offeseason.

"The offensive line, all across the board, we've got to get a lot of improvement and growth in that area so there should be competition trying to find the right guys," Willingham said. "Our receivers have a lot of depth there, but we're still waiting for guys to compete.

"Corey Williams is doing some good things, Anthony is doing some good things and Marcel too."

Husky drill or Oklahoma drill?: Before today's practice, and according to Willingahm, before several practices, the Huskies line up -- offense on one side, defense on the other -- and they put one player from each side in the middle between the two lines.

Each player gets into a three-point stance and once the whistle blows it's a contest to see who can turn the other one.

There were a couple of heated battles but the battle of two behemoths -- G Casey Bulyca and DT Jordan Reffett -- was one of the big highlights.

Even more impressive was the fact that a lot of the alumni in attendance got an up close view and many, including Spencer Marona, seemed ready to get in the ring themselves.

Garcia down but not out: Senior center Juan Garcia will miss a couple days after suffering a slight AC separation during Friday's practice.

Taking Garcia's place with the first offensive line was Ryan Bush.

Even though he wasn't playing, Garcia was still running stairs and he could be seen in the opposite endzone running sprints across the field.

Alumni in attendance: Unofficially, over 150 are expected at today's alumni event where the current players and the players of years gone by gather to talk about things.

One player looking forward to that is Locker.

"That's one of the reasons I chose to come here -- those guys and the legacy they built here," Locker said. "I'm really excited to go up and visit with them and talk to them about when they played here.

"They're the ones that kind of made this program what it was and we're trying to bring it back to that right now." Some of the alumni we were able to see were Warren Moon, Sonny Sixkiller, Lawyer Milloy, Marona, Tim Cowan, Rod Jones, C.J. Wallace, Scott White, Ben Madahvi, Hugh Millen, Mike Baldison, Pat Conniff, Kyle Benn, Rock Nelson and George Fleming.

New Huskies and possible ones: Chris Izbicki and his dad were in attendance as well as Kamiak CB Justin Glenn.

Skyline coach Steve Gervais and several of his players, including Nate Willingham, were also up in the stands.

Central Catholic (Portland) QB Nick Green was also in attendance with his father.

There were about 20 other recruits along the sidelines as well.

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