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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 9, 2007 at 7:48 PM

Willingham happy with first practice

UW opened spring drills today in a blustery but sun-drenched Husky Stadium, and with the team forced to practice without pads per NCAA rules, coach Tyrone Willingham said he was looking mostly for things like energy and effort.
Willingham said he liked much of what he saw, saying “there was a lot of enthusiasm. … I really didn’t see a whole lot of bad things.”
Mostly, that meant seeing no injuries. UW didn’t appear to suffer any ailments, and almost everybody on the roster was able to participate in all the drills. The most notable player limited in any way was backup left tackle Eric Berglund, who is recovering from a recent hamstring injury, Willingham said.
Jake Locker was the obvious spotlight player as it was his first practice since being publicly anointed as the team’s starting QB last week.
Locker lamented a few poor throws, including one that was picked off by LB E.J. Savannah during a seven-on-seven drill, saying he was “too sporadic” with his passing.
Not that it was easy to throw the ball with the wind gusting the way it was, though Locker said “I’m never going to blame anything on anything else. There’s no excuse. There are going to be Saturdays when it’s blowing like that so we’ve got to get used to it. It was blowing a little bit but it was good for us to practice in wind like that.”
He came back a few plays after the interception to throw a rope to Marcel Reece on the far sideline, and also ripped off a 77-yard TD run on a simple read option play. There was no contact allowed in the scrimmage, but Locker’s run figured to be good even if there had been.
“Obviously you can’t dispute that that young man has wheels,” Willingham said.
Willingham added that “it’s clear that he knows more about the offense now than he did a year ago, Buit when you talk about the basic fundamentals of how to be a quarterback, a lot of that he had coming in. He understood the position and how to lead. Those things are just really manifesting themselves each day that he’s out there on the field.”
Some other observations:
Casey Bulyca ran with the starting unit at right guard ahead of Ryan Tolar in the race to replace Clay Walker. That position was one of only three that didn’t have a clear starter on the pre-spring depth chart. The others are tight end, where the players rotate enough that the starting designation really doesn’t mean a whole lot, and cornerback, which figures to be in flux until the fall when the freshmen arrive.
— The team’s two new quartebacks, freshman Ronnie Fouch and walk-on sopphomore Chandler Clemons, displayed strong enough arms, especially considering the wind, and Fouch also showed solid mobility at times, hitting walk-on receiver Tony Chidiac after a scramble for a nice gain at one point. “I thought they did a nice job,” Willingham said, adding that for each to have any grasp of the offense after being on campus for only two weeks “is pretty good.”
Carl Bonnell didn’t appear limited in any way, but could become more so once pads are on. Bonnell said Thursday he has lost some weight off his listed 210 pounds and that looked to be the case Monday as he appeared noticeably lighter. He said he hasn’t been able to lift weights as much as he’d like while recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
Jordan White-Frisbee ran as the backup left guard to Morgan Rosborough but looked more than healthy enough, not seeming limited in any way.
Ryan Perkins was still limping a bit but got off some nice left-footed punts. He will kick with his left foot after hurting his right knee in the spring game last season.
Matt Sedillo had been somewhat surprisingly listed as the backup center on the depth chart ahead of the more experienced Ryan Bush, and he took most of the snaps at that spot Monday.
— Reece is in unquestionably better shape than any time last season, and was the team’s other starting receiver in two-receiver sets along with Anthony Russo.
— There were several recruits there and Willingham spent much of the early part of practice talking with some of them. Among those there was Lakes High’s Kavario Middleton, a highly-touted defensive end and tight end. Also there was Senio Kelemete of Evergreen, an offensive lineman who has already committed for the class of 2008.
— Among those practicing without apparent limitations was safety Darin Harris, out all last season with a back injury. But a truer picture of where he is will emerge once contact begins later this week.

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