Tuesday practice brings mixed bag

With nearly half of Washington's spring practices out of the way, not much has changed inside the walls of Husky Stadium. There have been very few injuries, and there has been very little news of note when it comes to backups beating out incumbent players for the right to start.

And after UW's two-hour plus session in pads Tuesday, it's clear that whatever changes are going to take place, it's not going to happen overnight.

Rainier Beach Head Coach Mark Haley was at Washington's practice with 4-5 Viking players, including his prized offensive lineman, Alameda Ta'amu. Ta'amu, recently named to Scout.com's National Hot 100 for the class of 2008, looks to have slimmed down about 10 pounds from his reported 340, and currently boasts offers from the Huskies, as well as the New Mexico State Aggies. WR/S/ATH Brandon Turner from Kentridge was there, while signees Chris Izbicki, Brandon Yakaboski and Vonzell McDowell were also there.

"I thought we were a little bit sluggish," quarterback Jake Locker said afterward of the practice, which included a couple of periods of scrimmage work. "I think the tempo needs to get better overall."

The first gold jersey of the spring went to fullback Paul Homer. He was the only one sporting gold this afternoon. "It just showed up on my locker," Homer said after practice.

It appeared that the only four players that weren't available to go today were four receivers: Anthony Russo (hamstring), Quintin Daniels (hip), Sho Yoshinaga (shoulder) ahd Ian McMilan (hamstring). Juan Garcia did work in most of the individual stuff, but in the 9-9 and 11-11 work, Ryan Bush was the No. 1 center and Matt Sedillo was No. 2.

The only player that appeared to have been injured during the day was cornerback Matt Mosley, who took a block from Marcel Reece on a Jake Locker run around end in which he scored. Mosley went out, took ice on his lower back for a while and then spent most of the rest of practice riding a stationary bike.

"You'll have to ask Matt, but he says he's OK," Reece said afterward about the play. "It was just a run play where I saw Jake coming and (Mosley) was an unblocked guy."

The quarterbacks, as it seemed today with the offense in general, ran hot and cold. They definitely seemed to have fumbleitis, and they weren't the only ones. J.R. Hasty did stairs after one play in which he fumbled.

"We were trying out some new plays, but that's all on me," Locker said. "We need to clean that up and not let that happen in the future."

But they came back strong, absolutely dominating the one-on-ones with the receivers against the defensive backs, and also in the 7-7 period, where they scored at least eight times from where they started inside the red zone, led by Locker's four touchdown throws. The defense only got one lick in, courtesy of a Jay Angiotti interception return off a tipped ball.

The second-year QB from Ferndale is still adjusting to the workload his arm is feeling, especially compared to the number of reps he would have normally taken throwing the ball in high school. "I've never thrown as much as I am now," he said. "But I always expect to be more accurate."

While Hasty seemed to struggle at times, senior Louis Rankin has added a new dimension to his running repertoire – patience. More than a couple of times he hesitated for a split second, waiting for a gap to open and then he'd take it and immediately burst through to the next level. Before, Rankin would just run side to side, looking for a crease. Now it appears as if he has added a quick stop and step into the hole, always moving forward instead of along the line. At least for today, it resulted in a few nice runs between tackles and a couple backside cuts that Rankin may not have seen in the past, one of which was a touchdown during UW's first 11-11 session.

During the special teams session, Willingham spent basically the whole period with Jared Ballman, helping him with his approach. Ballman looks to be a consistent 40-yard kicker with good hang time, but his last boot of the session was a pure spiral covering 50 yards. Cody Ellis put a couple of balls on the turf as punt returner, but in his defense he was going up against a strong sun that was starting to set over the west end of the stadium.

The play of the afternoon was the first play of the final 11-11, when Marcel Reece out-physicalled Jordan Murchison and lost his shoe in the process, but that didn't stop the senior from hauling in a Locker pass and going 80 yards for a touchdown. Locker admitted that the play, which called for Reece to run a post pattern, is his favorite throw.

"I just have to get it done," Reece said smiling about his one-shoe jaunt to paydirt. "That's what I enjoy doing – making plays."

Reece, who won't say if he's really the 240 pounds it says on the spring roster, does look fit and in great condition. "Every year it's a goal of mine to have a better off-season than the last one, and I felt that this last year was the best. I feel good, I'm working hard and I'm getting a lot of reps."

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