Tag Archives: Will Shamburger

A Q&A At A Square Table

After last weekend’s heartbreaking affairs, the Good Guys felt it was time to gather together and face the hard questions.  Okay, they aren’t really hard questions but there are some answers to a few questions.  Enjoy everybody!

After Saturday’s game, do you think Stanford is a top-5 team?  Does that mean the Huskies are a top-10 team based on their performance?

Dan:  I’m not sure if Stanford is a top 5 team because the offense and defense both seem good but not great. Top 5 teams have an elite “something” and I don’t see it’d on Stanford. I think both UW and Stanford are in the 7-10 range. Look, if your only loss is by 3 points on the road to the #5 team, and you outplay them in nearly all facets, you belong in the top 10.

Joe:  I agree with Dan that Stanford is a top 10 team, and that UW could be a top 10.  The problem I have is Stanford hasn’t been tested on the road yet, with two home games vs ranked teams, and in both cases, ASU and UW moved the ball just fine on their defense, out gaining Stanford in both games.  But I understand a win is a win, so I’ll let that sleeping dog lie.  I think Stanford is a very good football team, very well-disciplined, they just don’t beat themselves, and that’s why they are undefeated right now.
Matthew: I think Stanford is capable of beating anyone in the country, but I don’t think they’re good enough to go undefeated and win the championship.  I don’t know if that puts them in the top five or not, but I imagine they’ll hang in that range most of the year.  I see them losing to Oregon and maybe one more team. I would have the Huskies in the 10-15 range right now.  If they keep playing like they have been, however, I don’t see them losing many more games.  They could easily be a a top 10 team, and I think they’re playing like it right now.  It’s just a matter of keeping it up.
Andrew:  It appears that I’m in the minority here but I do believe Stanford is a top-5 team.  Outside of Alabama, I’m not sure that anyone has a better resume than Stanford right now.  I think their front 7 is elite and is probably the best in the country.  As for the Huskies, they really do look like a top-10 team to me.  I think they can play with anyone because of the weapons on their team and because of the growth on the coaching staff.  This weekend will go a long ways in showing whether the Huskies are or not.
What was your favorite play from Saturday’s game?

Dan:  I thought the 3rd and 1 stop with 2 mins left was amazing. Peters was off-balance and Hogan appeared to have an easy path to getting a yard or 2 outside, but Marcus recovered and made a phenomenal play that only elite D’s pull off.

Joe:  Any play that involved Bishop Sankey doing something awesome, and then seeing Grandpa Sankey go nuts.
Matthew: I’ll second both of those.  Grandpa Sankey was great, but that third down stop by Peters was incredible.  I’ve been raving about it ever since.  It came out of the same formation as Stanford scored (I think) their last touchdown: 8 lineman, shotgun, two backs beside the quarterback.  It’s very symmetrical and looks like a goal line offense.  Because of that, UW got sucked into the middle on the touchdown, and Tyler Gaffney was untouched going off-tackle to the right.  There are so many different plays that can be run out of that alignment. They can hand off either direction, go right up the gut, slip the tight end or a back out for a pass.  This time Hogan kept it, Peters mostly stayed home and then closed and made a difficult tackle.  Given the circumstances and level of difficulty, that was one of the better defensive plays we’ll see all year.
Andrew:  I can’t disagree with the Peters play.  It would have been my favorite UW play, maybe ever, if the Dawgs had pulled the game out.

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A Few Thoughts on a Perfect Husky Win

HSThe Huskies christened the new Husky Stadium on Saturday with their best win in years.  They’ve had wins against better teams, like the upsets of USC and Stanford, but it’s been a long time since they dominated a good team so thoroughly.  I’m not sure how good Boise State will be this year, but they looked like a solid team and were still outclassed in every way by the Huskies.  I’m not going to give a full recap, but here are a few thoughts:

  • First, the stadium.  Simply put, it is everything fans could have asked for.  It’s not glitzy and opulent, but it’s classy and open and perfectly designed for the fans.  And it is so close.  The proximity to the field without the track is what grabbed me immediately.  It’s such a sizable difference, there’s no real way to describe it.  You really have to walk through the stands and see it for yourself.  If you weren’t there Saturday, I’d make every effort to see a game this season.  You won’t be disappointed.  There are also a full day’s worth of high school games there this Saturday, including some big-time local match-ups and quite a few Husky recruits. I can’t imagine a better place to watch a college football game.  The location has always been perfect.  Now there’s a building that not only doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall down, but is also up-to-date and beautiful and possessing all the amenities anyone could want.

    From Our East End Zone Seats

    From Our East End Zone Seats

  • Sean Parker may have saved the season.  The air had gone out of the stadium a bit after Price’s interception and BSU’s first few plays going for easy yardage.  Who knows what would have happened had BSU gone for a touchdown to start the game.  Luckily, Parker saved them with a beautiful interception that reignited the crowd.  The offense went straight down the field for a TD, and there was no looking back from there.
  • Speaking of Parker, the whole secondary looked excellent.  The two new starters, Greg Ducre and Will Shamburger, were solid, particularly Shamburger, who was everywhere.  Marcus Peters made multiple plays and showed a physicality unseen in a UW corner for a while. This group had questions before the year, but for one game, they looked fast, physical and good.
  • The defense was excellent and had a ton of guys make plays, but Danny Shelton really stood out to me.  BSU ran the ball decently, but that was to be expected.  It was quite noticeable when Shelton left the field.  He did a solid job all day moving the middle of the line.  By the third and fourth quarter, he had completely worn down his opposition and was getting pressure right in Joe Southwick’s face.  Shelton is the key to the defense, and the signs are very impressive after one game.
  • One last thing on the defense.  They gave up yards, but they came up huge when they had too.  Peters’ pass break-up in the back of the end zone  at the beginning of the third was huge.  So was the fourth down stop toward the end of the third.  My favorite play was the third down stop in the first before the blocked field goal.  Kikaha (great for his first game back) broke into the backfield to get the first hit, and then the Dawgs swarmed Ajayi.  He ended up going down in a pile of about eight Huskies.
  • I wrote on Friday that a key would be finding a receiver or two to contribute.  The Huskies did better than that.  Jaydon Mickens and John Ross were revelations.  The Broncos had no answers for them when they caught a screen or quick pass to the edge.  The Huskies had significantly better playmakers all day, and it feels like that might not change for much of the season.  Kevin Smith also had a solid day, and while the back-up tight ends didn’t do a lot in the receiving game, they blocked well and did get a touchdown on a beautiful play by a scrambling Price to Joshua Perkins.  I don’t think there was a Husky skill player getting regular minutes who didn’t do something impressive.
  • Keith Price and his offensive line were excellent as well.  Price shook off the interception to be nearly perfect.  He looked loose and confident, and he got more creative and exciting as the game progressed.  The quick throws are a good fit for him.  It helped to not be on his back every play.  The line did an excellent job in both pass and run blocking.  They need to clean up a few penalties, but they made a good case Saturday that they are night and day better than last year.  I’ll be curious to watch them improve as the season goes. It’s still a young group.  Also interesting will be seeing if the Huskies will start to throw deep more and how ASJ’s return will influence defenses.  In case you forgot, the Huskies were playing without an All-American.

There was nothing to dislike about this game.  The Huskies gave up yards, but they didn’t give up a play of more than 18 yards or a touchdown.  I wasn’t excited about the Husky pass rush while I was at the game, but it looks better rewatching it on TV.  Mostly, the Huskies looked like a team taking the next step.  They executed crisply, didn’t make mistakes, and didn’t let up at any point.  They were athletic and skilled.  This is what we’ve been waiting to see, and if the Dawgs keep playing like this, they’re going to win a lot of games.

-Matthew

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Looking at the Dawgs – Defense

A few days ago, I wrote about the probable starters and depth on the Huskies offense.  Today, we move over to the defense.

This picture is too pretty to leave out of this post.

This picture is too pretty to leave out of this post.

Defensive Overview: Heading into 2012, expectations weren’t exactly high for the defense.  They had just come off one of the worst seasons in school history (statistically) and even a decent jump in performance wouldn’t put them at average.  The change of the defensive coaching staff was sure to be an upgrade but how much was hard to predict.

The season started, and the offense sputtered.  Thankfully, Wilcox, and staff, performed a minor miracle and transformed the Husky defense to slightly above-average and in the top half of Pac-12 defenses.  They led the team to wins against San Diego State, Stanford and Oregon State.  The defense was led by a lockdown corner in Desmond Trufant and a slew of young linebackers in Travis Feeney, Shaq Thompson, and John Timu.

Heading into 2013, it’s still a little strange to think of the defense as a strength but it appears to be just that.  I don’t know if the unit as a whole will be way ahead of the offense but they should at least be equals to the other side of the ball.  While the offenses switch to a hurry-up offense was to benefit themselves, I do think the defense will reap benefits, as well. The defense has struggled against fast-paced spread teams for the last 10 years.  Practicing against the fast-paced can not hurt.  Also, the coaching staff has recruited a different type of athlete that’s leaning towards a longer, faster player (just look at the linebackers).

There are certainly questions on this side of the ball, but for now the positives outweigh them.  The D is young, fast, and physical and I’m excited to see what they could do this season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best defense Washington has had in over a decade.

On to the positions.

Defensive Line:
Starters – DE Andrew Hudson (RJr.), DT Danny Shelton (Jr.), DE Evan Hudson (RJr.), RE Josh Shirley (RJr.)/Corey Littleton (So.)/Hau’oli Kikaha (RJr.)
Andrew Hudson and Shelton have been mainstays on the line for the last few years and have performed admirably.  Andrew is more of your typical D. end in that he’s a little longer, isn’t quite as heavy and excels in rushing the passer.  Shelton probably has the most potential of any guy on the line (especially if you don’t consider the true freshmen).  He was solid last season in his starting spot but has had the breakout that fans and coaches have hoped for.  He should be a force in the middle and his penetration will be a key in stop the run game.  Evan Hudson is a converted tight end who looks like he’s set to start next to Shelton.   The position is listed as a defensive end because the team runs a bit of a 3-4 defense but really Hudson is almost like a defensive tackle as well.  He’s another tall guy who weighs in at 280.  Maybe the defensive line was in such bad shape that they need Evan to start or maybe he truly is that talented on this side of the ball.  I’m guessing it’s a mix of both but I do feel a bit uneasy about him coming in and starting right away.  The rush end spot is up for grabs with Josh Shirley, Corey Littleton, and Hau’oli Kikaha (formerly Hau’oli Jamora) all battling for the starting spot.  Shirley has been a very one-dimensional player in the past in always just trying to speed rush right past the tackle.  With that being said, he is probably the best pass rusher the Huskies have and could challenge for double-digit sacks this year.  Littleton saw a few games last season as a true freshman and played about how you’d expect a freshman on the line to play.  He’s said to be much improved in practice and may have been playing in front of Shirley at times during the camp.  Hau’oli has suffered 2 straight ACL tears in the last 2 seasons and has battled back to have an impressive Fall Camp.  Before the tears, he was one of the Huskies best defensive players.  If he can get to that level, the Huskies pass rush will definitely be a much stronger force.  The rush end position is one of the more intriguing spots on the team with three talented guys at one position.  I will be excited to watch it play out over the season
The Depth – DE Joe Mathis (Fr.), DT Sione Potoa’e (Sr.), Lawrence Lagafuaina (RJr.), DT Josh Banks (Sr.), DT Drew Schultz (RJr.), DE Connor Cree (RSo.), DE Jarrett Finau (RSo.), DT Elijah Qualls (Fr.), Damion Turpin (RFr.), DT Taniela Tupou (RSo.), DE Marcus Farria (Fr.)
The depth on the D-line is slowly improving during Sark’s tenure.  This group of players could look really good in a year or two but for now there are a few decent guys and then question marks.  Joe Mathis, a freshman, is challenging for a starting spot and will probably play this year.  If he doesn’t redshirt, which is highly unlikely, expect to see him on the field quite a bit.  Potoa’e, Banks, and Schultz have all played enough defensive tackle to feel okay about.  Potoa’e was a very impressive recruit but has never reached his, thought to be, potential.  Lagafuaina tore his ACL last year and is still getting up to speed, but when he’s in the game he takes up a lot of space in the middle.  Cree and Finau saw limited action last year and provide decent depth.  Qualls may or may not redshirt but he was a heralded recruit.  The other guys might get some action in the game but have figured in to the rotation as prominently as the guys I have listed above them.  Farria will probably redshirt.

Linebackers:
Starters – OLB Shaq Thompson (So.), MLB John Timu (Jr.), OLB Travis Feeney (RSo.)
On paper, this is easily the best position group on the team.  They are quick, young and physical.  They close fast to the ball and could be the best position group the team has had in years.  In my last post, I said ASJ was the best player the Huskies have had in at least a decade.  By the end of Thompson’s career here, he could hold that title.  Shaq is incredibly talented, bringing a mix of speed and size that you don’t see often.  He could be an All-American by the end of the season.  Timu continues to grow and improve.  He was very impressive in a few games last year draws rave reviews from the coaching staff for his intelligence.  Timu did struggle against power teams last year and I wonder if that has improved this season. As good as the other two were last year, Feeney may have been the best linebacker on the team.  He also has great speed and loves to hit people.  All of these guys were safeties in high school and you can see that athleticism in their linebacking.  The only concern is against the power teams of the world.
The Depth:  Princeton Fuimaono (Sr.), Thomas Tutogi (Sr.), Jamaal Kearse (RJr.), Scott Lawyer (RSo.), Connor O’Brien (Fr.), Azeem Victor (Fr.), Keishawn Bierria (Fr.), Sean Constantine (Fr.)
The depth helps make this position the best on the team.  Fuimaono has been challenging Feeney for his starting spot and will be the first guy off the bench as a linebacker.  Princeton can probably play both outside linebacker positions.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see a package where the three starting linebackers are on the field with Fuimaono.  This coaching staff is pretty good at getting their best players on the field.  Tutogi proved to be a valuable piece of the puzzle last year at middle linebacker.  He played quite a bit against the power teams and was a very physical force.  I’m curious to see if he’ll play in Timu’s spot against power teams on running downs.  I expect to see a lot of Tutogi and Fuimaono on the field plenty this year. Kearse has had an interesting career and is a very capable backup.  He’s started a few games in his career and come up with some big plays.  Lawyer has impressed people in camp and will start to see a lot of time come next year.  He’ll play on special teams quite a bit this year.  I’m hoping all of the freshmen get to redshirt but some may have to be used on special teams.  They’re an impressive group with a lot of size.   Continue reading

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Huskies Post Game: Syracuse

The Huskies got their first win of the year last night at Husky Stadium against Syracuse, 41-20. The Dawgs’ struggled early on; there wasn’t any offensive rhythm and special team’s mistakes led to an early 10-0 lead for the Orange.  But, then the Huskies found it.  They played like the team we had planned on seeing this year.  They outscored Syracuse 41-10 through the rest of the game and it wasn’t much of a contest after the first couple plays in the second half.

Jermaine Kearse had a monster day (9 receptions for 179 yards), as the offense used big plays to dominate.  The defense was solid too.  They gave up two or three big plays but the two touchdowns Syracuse scored were because of a special teams penalty and a turnover.

I’ll review this one by taking a look at each position.  I haven’t been able to find a replay anywhere yet, FSN decided to show a replay of Wyoming and Texas instead, so I won’t be as thorough as I’d like to be but these were my first impressions from being there.  Continue reading

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UW Huskies Defensive Preview

In 2009, the Husky defense was frustratingly inconsistent.  Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Donald Butler, possibly its two best players, both graduated, but there is a lot of hope the defense will be greatly improved in 2010.  This is due partly to a dominating end to last season, holding WSU and Cal to 10 points in the final two games, but it’s also based on the potential maturation of a young group.

Defensive End

Starters:

Everette Thompson:  Thompson sounds like he’s recovered from an offseason achilles injury just in time, and stands to be one of the most important pieces of the defense.  A highly touted recruit, he’s spent time at tackle as well.  He’s bigger than most Husky D ends in recent memory, which will hopefully aid in the run defense.  It’s even more vital that he contribute in replacing some of Te’o-Nesheim’s record-number sacks.

Talia Crichton:  A true sophomore, Crichton played more than anyone likely anticipated last year, with decent results.  Hard to say what to expect from him, but coaches have been impressed with his improvement this fall.  He seems to be more of a pass rusher, which this defense desperately needs.

Depth: Kalani Aldrich, De’shon Matthews, Hau’oli Jamora, Josh Shirley.  Aldrich is trying to recover from knee surgery, but has decent potential if he can get back all the way.  He’d have contended for a starting spot if not for the injury.  Matthews is a former big time recruit who’s never really made an impact.  He has one last shot and is in position for a lot of minutes as the number one back-up.  Jamora and Shirley are true freshman.  Jamora is in the two-deeps and will play.  Shirley is more heralded, but joined the team late and seems to be having a tough transition to end from high school linebacker.  He’s likely to redshirt, but if he progresses and they’re needing a speed rusher, who knows.

Analysis:  This is one of the toughest positions on the team to call.  There’s potential, to be sure, but the only one who inspires real confidence is Thompson, and he’s coming off major surgery.  This group has to get pressure on the quarterback this year.  Hopefully they’ll be aided in that by an improved interior of the line.

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Spring Game Preview: What and Who to Watch

Bring out your rain jackets and head on down to Husky Stadium tonight!  The Huskies will be holding their annual spring game tonight at 6:30 and, despite the cool temperatures, it is sure to be a hoppin’ time!  3/4 of the Good Guys will be at the game and bringing you a recap afterwards.  After watching almost all of the spring practices I have a few recommendations on who to watch tonight.  Bob Condotta also filed a “Who To Watch” list that you can find here.  As usual, he does a fantastic job.  Here’s a few players (and a few other things) that I’ll be watching tonight (The obvious guys won’t be on this list very much.  Of course we’ll all be watching Jake Locker, Devin Aguilar, and Mason Foster.  They are awesome and there’s no disputing this.):

  • Deontae Cooper.  Cooper is one of the two freshman running backs who came in for spring practices.  Sadly, Jesse Callier won’t be participating; he had been very impressive too.  Deontae Cooper was my favorite part of the spring.  He has been absolutely fantastic. I can only remember one practice in which he didn’t break off a long touchdown run.  If he’s on top of his game today Husky fans will be in for a treat and you all will stop wondering why I keep writing about this guy.
  • Cort Dennison.  Before this spring the linebacker position was one to worry about.  I’ll write more on this later but, this is the spot where the most questions were answered for me.  As we saw last year, Cort is a pretty good player.  If he was a baseball player I would have rated him as a league-average player.  After watching him this spring I would say he’s above average.  He’s moved to the middle linebacker spot for this season and will be a steady stream of energy and toughness there.  Cort is a fun Husky to watch; I would say that you should do at least a little bit of that tonight.
  • The free safety position.  Nick Holt said in an interview yesterday that with the emergence of Will Shamburger and Nate Fellner, Sean Parker should be able to stay at his natural position of strong safety.  This means that the coaches have been very impressed by these two players.  They both show a few different things: Shamburger is good in coverage and Fellner brings the lumber.  Right now Shamburger is the starter but Fellner is right in the mix too.  Both of these guys will play a role next year.
  • The offense in short yardage situations.  The Huskies had trouble with this last year and Sark put an emphasis on getting more physical heading into spring.  Of course they will be going up against a depleted defensive line tonight but it will still be interesting to watch.
  • Alvin Logan.  Logan has had a good spring and is in the hunt for the 3rd linebacker position.  He’s very quick rushing off the edge and definitely looks the part.  I’m predicting at least one sack for him tonight.
  • Anthony Boyles.  A.B. started this spring with a bang but has since fallen off a little bit.  I think he’ll be ready to get out and play in a game format.  At times he looks like UW’s best corner, other times he seems to be lost.  He should get tested often tonight, I’m excited to see how he responds.
  • William Chandler.  I don’t know who William Chandler is, I don’t know where he came from and I don’t know if he’ll play much next year but this guy continues to make catch after catch in practice.  I imagine he’ll pull down a few tonight and people will ask who it was.

The teams will be the starting offense with the second team defense vs. the second team offense and the starting defense.  Basically, the one vs. the ones and the twos vs. the twos. 

The starting offense will be close to this: 

QB:  Jake Locker.  Keith Price will come in once Montlake Jake is done for the day.

RB:  Johri Fogerson/Deontae Cooper

FB:  Austin Sylvester/Dorson Boyce

TE:  Chris Izbicki/Kavario Middleton

WR:  Devin Aguilar/James Johnson/Cody Bruns

LT:  Senio Kelemente

LG:  Ryan Tolar

C:  Drew Schaefer

RG:  Mykenna Ikehara

RT:  Daniel Kanczugowski

The defense should look something like this:

DE’s:  Cameron Elisara and Talia Critchon.  De’Shon Matthews might be with the starters, I’m not sure.

DT’s:  Alameda Ta’amu/Chris Robinson/Tyrone Duncan

LB’s:  Alvin Logan/Cort Dennison/Mason Foster.  Expect Matt Houston to rotate in here too.

CB’s:  Vonzell McDowell/Quinton Richardson.  Adam Long may rotate in with the starters but I expect him to be with the 2nd team.

FS:  Will Shamburger

SS:  Nate Williams

Those might be a little off but they’re pretty close.  Enjoy and I’ll hopefully see you tonight!

Andrew

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Huskies Practice Report – 4/15/2010

We passed the halfway point of spring practice today.  It was the Dawgs’ eighth practice of the year and they have fifteen total (including the spring game).  Today the team was in shorts, shoulder pads, and helmets; apparently taking it easy before the usual Saturday scrimmage.  It was an absolutely beautiful day in Seattle today and I might have come away with a sunburn, which is just fine by me.  Before heading down to the stadium I bought some iced tea and two Choco Tacos (Choco Tacos are the most under-rated snack/dessert of all time.  Seriously, I could eat 5 without any problem.  They are perfect for a warm day like this was.  Choco Tacos are one of those small things that you have to cherish.  Like the movie Zombieland has taught us, it’s the little things in life that make it grand and Choco Tacos are the grandest of the little things.  Go buy one.).  It felt like Summer and it was glorious.

There were no new injuries today.  Jordan Polk is still struggling with a hamstring injury and he played sparingly.  Cody Bruns and D’Andre Goodwin are also out so the depth at receiver isn’t very strong right now.

During drills today I tried to watch the offensive and defensive line more so that I’d have something different to report.  I don’t know a ton about the lines but I came away with a few observations.

  • Senio Kelemente is going to be really good.  He could become a pretty good NFL prospect by this time next year.  It’s clear he’s the best on the line for a number of reasons but when he does get beat by a defensive lineman (this hardly happens) the defensive players celebrate a little bit more.  Talia beat him once in a one-on-one drill today and then they went up against each other the very next play.  Talia got knocked down twice and never did get to the target.  Don’t mess with Senio!
  • Skyler Fancher still appears a step slow and rusty.  He is coming off an injury so I imagine that he’s still getting going but if he looks like this in the Fall I’m not sure how much he’ll play with the return of Cody Habben and incoming freshman.
  • Mykena Ikehara is pretty impressive.  He still looks a little small but he also looks like UW’s second best offensive lineman.  He can play either guard or center, right now they have him at center.
  • De’Shon Matthews was impressive today.  He beat Fancher around the edge 3 different times.  I’ve said this before but I don’t know why he was playing defensive tackle before.  I know there wasn’t much depth when Ty moved him but if he had stuck at DE I get the feeling that he really could have been something special.
  • Talia Critchon is still a little small but his speed is impressive.  If he puts a little more weight on I think he could be pretty successful next year.
  • After watching closer today, I’m a little more worried about Cameron Elisara’s speed at DE.  I don’t know if he can beat people around the edge but time will tell.

As for the rest of the team, it was the usual suspects who put up good performances.  Both of the freshman running backs put up some really solid, long runs.  It is worth coming out to a practice just to watch these two.  They will make you excited about the future of Husky football. 

The defense had it’s way most of the day.  I don’t recall a touchdown today in the team session.  The linebackers and secondary continue to impress.  If anyones trying to lock up their starting job by fall camp it’s Nate Fellner.  He continues to make good plays and more importantly doesn’t make any bad ones.  Will Shamburger also made some really good hits from the safety position today.  All of a sudden depth at safety looks to be a really strong point for this Husky team. 

Just a few more thoughts after the jump. Continue reading

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Huskies Practice Report – 4/13/2010

It was a beautiful day over at Montlake today.  The wind was blowing a little bit but the sun was enough to keep me and a few hundred other fans warm.  I showed up about 40 minutes late but I only missed a few drills and stretching.  The team is entering its third week of spring practice.  In the past years spring practice had stretched over 4 weeks but this year they stretched it out over 5 to keep the players fresh.  This idea seems to be working.  Guys are staying healthy and the team doesn’t appear to be tired at all.  There have been no significant injuries so far and several guys returned from minor injuries today.  De’Shon Matthews and Cody Bruns had each sat out the last couple of practices but both saw time today.  Nate Williams also practiced at full strength today.  D’Andre Goodwin remains sidelined with a hamstring injury but it doesn’t seem very serious.

The focus of today seemed to be red-zone offense and defense.  This is an area where the Huskies offense struggled last year; I had nightmares of the Notre Dame game while typing that sentence.  The offense and defense both had their moments today.  Specifically, it seemed as if the secondary had a very good day.  I think that group is going to be a strength next year.  These guys go up against one of the best passing attacks in the pac-10 in Jake Locker and a good group of receivers every day and usually hold their own.  I’ll have more on a few players in the secondary after the jump.

The quarterbacks were pretty much how they are every practice.  Jake Locker was great and the other two were mediocre.  Keith Price struggled early in drills but got a little better as the day progressed.  Montana’s always learning and he’s a little slower than the other two but you can see the talent there.

The running backs had decent days.  Deontae Cooper had a 75 yard run for a touchdown and that was probably the play of the day. 

Ryan Tolar got quite a bit of time at backup center today (he’s also working with the starters as guard).  I guess they just want him to be able to play everywhere or maybe they were giving Greg Christine a break.  The starting offensive and defensive lines are usually pretty even but the second team defensive line generally has their way with second team offensive line.  The walk-on defensive end Peter Follmer may actually have an impact on this team.  He made a few plays today and is really strong. 

To end the practice Sark gave the offense the ball and the defense’s 20 and let the starters go at it.  The offense got the ball down to the 2 yard line and then was stopped on 3 different plays.  When the coaches decided they were going to go for it all of the backups came running onto the field and surrounded the play.  They started cheering and yelling encouragement to the players they were backing up.  Deontae Cooper ran the ball in for a touchdown and all the offensive guys ran and tackled him in the end zone.  Then the offense went for a two point conversion and the defense stopped them.  This is what the staff has instilled in this team, competition.  It was a really cool moment and there were many smiles going around as the players left the field.

My players of the day after the jump. Continue reading

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