Improving Under Center
As an onlooker, you can definitely see some marked improvement in the play of the quarterbacks. Of the 17 passes Joe Brennan, Curt Phillips and Joel Stave threw during 7-on-7, 14 passes were completed. Brennan looked good during his three-step drops and had an accurate release. Phillips looks like he is getting stronger with his knee and Stave shows some intelligence by not forcing throws.
However, rarely were any of the 14 completed passes beyond 10 yards and there were some clunkers. Stave allowed Marcus Cromartie to make a couple plays on his passes and Phillips threw one pass right in to the arms of senior safety Shelton Johnson.
In team drills, Brennan looked pretty good. He made a good throw to James White between Dezmen Southward and another defense and a couple of good passes in the flat. Earlier in practice, Brennan made an outstanding throw that Chase Hammond caught at his peak before falling to the turf. During his move-the-ball segment, Stave completed his first three passes, moved the chains twice and got as far as the opponent's 40 before stalling out.
Tuesday was a step in the right direction, but there are a lot steps left to make.
Left Side Power
The right side of the offensive line is still being worked out, but Tuesday's team drill showed how powerful the three-man group of Ricky Wagner, Ryan Groy and Travis Frederick could be. With those three clearing a path, both White and Melvin Gordon found huge gaps between the tackles and outside the hash mark. In team drills, Frederick unleashed a nasty pancake on Ethan Hemer, resulting in a wide-open gap. If this group can stay healthy, the run game will be fun to watch when the play goes left.
Building Corner Depth
UW's top three cornerbacks are likely to be seniors Marcus Cromartie and Devin Smith and redshirt sophomore Peniel Jean, but Tuesday showed that some young UW corners are more than capable of making plays. On a nicely thrown deep ball by Brennan, Terrance Floyd stuck with his receiver and made a leaping interception. The pass was slightly overthrown, but Floyd – a redshirt freshman from Florida – certainly earned that pick.
During a move-the-ball segment to end practice, redshirt freshman Darius Hillary found himself at the right place at the right time. Standing right behind A.J. Jordan after the redshirt freshman came on a curl route, Brennan's pass went through his hands and into Hillary's, resulting in an interception returned for a touchdown. The funniest part of the play was as Jordan turned around, Warren Herring was right there to knock him on his rear, adding insult to injury.
Even with a club on his right hand, Derek Landisch still hasn't missed much of a beat. During 7-on-7 drills, Landisch had responsibility from the line of scrimmage to 10 yards deep, and he showed good lateral movement to stick with every player that came in his zone. It's one thing to stick with a tight end, but Landisch was working step for step with White. Landisch will likely be in a reserve role this season, but expect to see him work with the first-team defense in certain situations.