Coach's Corner

Got a chance to watch the Dawgs one day with Coach Lambright and one day with Coach James this week. As I've been saying, I really believe the Huskies will be a much improved team. Besides the addition of 33 new faces, the team has gotten much better simply because they know the system now.

We noticed immediately the increase in the number of good running athletes. The team is faster and speed has always been one of the most important characteristics of winning teams. Whether or not this will translate into more wins is a major question, especially considering the difficulty of the schedule.

At this time of year I always like spend most of my time looking at the new kids and trying to watch each and every one of them. I am really impressed with the incoming class. There is good balance position wise, although I'm sure the coaches would have wanted a few more offensive linemen. The three scholarship freshmen linemen all look like bookends. Skyler Fancher, Mark Armelin and Scott Shugert are all in the 6-5 to 6-6 range and all close to 300 lbs. They should all be good linemen down the road after a year or two in the weight room and will all be in the depth soon. The coaches will probably try to add at least 5-6 more OL in this next recruiting class, but for now these three look like good prospects for the future.

There are four freshmen running backs and they all look really quick. The one who really caught my eye was kid from Mt. Si HS, Brandon Yakaboski. He has the best hands of group and is big, fast, tough, and has good balance. He was sort of over shadowed in recruiting by the California backs, Brandon Johnson, Curtis Shaw, and Willie Griffin, but I'm sure he is being noticed because he just stands out with his soft hands. No question all four are college backs and it will only take a couple of weeks to sort out which ones will help this year and which ones should be red-shirted. Yakaboski looks like he could play on special teams. Shaw is being looked at as a returner but I can't imagine them using a true freshman to return punts in the early games.

Erik Folk, the place kicker from Arizona, whose brother just got drafted as an NFL kicker, has been slowed by injury so, if I were to guess, then I would think that the gutty Ryan Perkins from North Thurston will be tough to beat out for the kicking job. Because they have moved the kickoffs back the 30 yardline, I would guess that the kicker with the highest hang time will probably win the job. There are about 4 guys in competition so that probably won't sort itself out for a couple of weeks, but after everything Perkins has been through just to get to this point, I have to believe he is determined to kick the field goals and extra points.

The walk-on punter, Kiel Rasp, out of Nathan Hale in Seattle has shown a really strong leg with his punts but is a little inconsistent and I doubt that Coach Willingham is going to go into the first game with a true freshman walk-on punter. He does, however, really boom it and will eventually be a factor. JC transfer Jared Ballman, who entered in the spring is starting to settle in and Perkins, who actually punts left and kick right, gets the ball off really quickly and could be a factor in that competition as well.

The returners are yet to be determined as well but some freshmen are being looked at there in particular Vonzell McDowell and Curtis Shaw. They seem a little reluctant to use Roy Lewis returning kickoffs simply because they are so thin on the corner. Roy is probably the best at that but I wouldn't be surprised to see Louis Rankin back there either.

The secondary is obviously one of the areas of greatest concern and the depth there was greatly aided by the incoming kids. I really like how Quinton Richardson runs to the ball and Victor Aiyewa out of Texas really is a good looking kid on the hoof. The young running back, Nate Williams, who decided to play defense is also an excellent looking running athlete. All of these kids are great looking kids for being so young and I want to point out a walk on sophomore who I think is really helping them all out. Jay Angotti, out of Hawaii, likes to hit and has a good understanding of the zone responsibilities and he is really working well with the first year kids.

Byron Davenport, the transfer from UCLA, who although new to the team, is obviously a front runner to get into the depth at corner simply because of his experience and age. He is currently sitting due to a hamstring so he has yet to really practice though. McDowell is also a corner as is Marquis Presley another freshman and both show great quickness and made some nice breaks on the ball when in coverage drills. Because Washington has mainly been a zone coverage team it will probably end up being the kid who picks up the zone principles the best who gets to play. Sophomore Matt Mosley has a year of experience after redshirting and looks a lot more comfortable with his reads. Considering there were only six DB's in the spring, the secondary looks much improved just because of the numbers.

I count almost 50 members of the team or half of the practicing bodies as freshmen and sophomores, something I think those whose are getting impatient should bear in mind. Unless a freshman is clearly better, you almost always play the experienced player especially in the pre-league or early games.

Another youngster who caught my eye was Alvin Logan, the wide receiver out of Colorado. He is a good looking kid as well at 6-2 and 200 lbs and shows an obvious toughness in the blocking drills. His chance of helping depends a lot on how all the senior receivers hold up but he is another new player who looks physical enough to compete at least on special teams.

Linebacker is probably one of the best looking positions on the team and the freshman from Seaside California, Mason Foster, really looks the part. He is very fluid in his drops and also really runs well to the ball. He and the other scholarship backers, Cort Dennison and Austin Sylvester, will all be solid players down the road, but I think Foster may be a little more advanced and more likely to see action this coming season.

The other position area where the Huskies look good is up front in the defensive line. The incoming kids in the D line are most likely will redshirt and I'm positive Nick Wood will because of a recent operation. Kalani Aldrich has a great looking frame and matching work ethic to develop into a really good player in the future but because of the depth, he will not be needed now. Tyrone Duncan is the third Freshman DL and he too is stout looking but I can't see him playing either. All three, like the offensive linemen are probably headed to the weight room for a good year of getting stronger.

Freshman quarterback, Ronnie Fouch was here in the spring after graduating early from high school and will probably get a chance to travel as the number 3 at that position and that alone will prove to be a learning experience for him just as last year was for Jake Locker. Remember he is only an ankle injury away from being the backup so his development in camp will be critical for the team.

I was pleased to see the number of walk-ons increase to about 2 dozen or more and they will all be necessary in the preparation of this year's ball club.

The demotion of some players coming into fall camp seems justified to me in that those involved look to be a too heavy and that is always a factor in the fourth quarter. The Huskies let a number of games get away at the end last year and if this will help get them in better shape to finish ballgames.

I repeat, this team has improved and regardless of the record, you will see a better product on the field this year. Both Don James and Lambo agree with me on this point. They see the same improvements that I do. And watch out for Louis Rankin this year. He really looks ready to make a real name for himself in the Husky record books. Top Stories