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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

April 5, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Saturday practice report

Washington’s first full pads practice of the spring Saturday included a lot of drill work and a little bit of scrimmaging highlighted by some nice moments in the passing game.
Jake Locker hit D’Andre Goodwin for a touchdown over the middle on a third-and-goal play from the 6-yard-line in leading the No. 1 offense to a score against the No. 1 defense the first time it had the ball.
That was the only score of the day other than in situational work at the end of the practice, but the offense often moved the ball well on what was an overcast and usually windy, but dry, practice that lasted about two-and-a-half hours.
“You can see we are at a stage where the offense is a little bit ahead of us and rightfully so,” said new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell.
Nevertheless, Donatell liked a lot of what he saw in what was the first time he had seen his players in full-pads action.
“Some good popping, some good hitting, guys were laying it out,” Donatell said.
The Locker-to-Goodwin connectioin was fitting as the two hooked up several other times during the practice for big gains in passing drills and during the live scrimmaging. Locker, in fact, seemed to be making progress in his spring goal of becoming more accurate with intermediate throws (there weren’t a lot of deep balls thrown today). He connected on five in a row at one point during a drill that featured short and intermediate passes.
“I felt pretty good,” Locker said. “No balls sailed on me today or anything.”
Goodwin was the receiving star, but a number of receivers got into the act with Anthony Boyles, Devin Aguilar, Curtis Shaw and Chris Polk all getting a few catches (Boyles standing out the most of that group). (Also, simply forgot to include Alvin Logan in the earlier writeup but he had a good day, as well, making a couple of nice catches in traffic).
Locker said he thought the receiving corps was backing up the praise he had lavished on it when talking with reporters earlier in the week.
“I think they are showing glimpses of that through the first three days of practice and I know it’s only going to get better,” he said.
Brandon Johnson got the majority of the carries and had a couple of nice runs, including a 19-yarder in which he powered over defensive end Darrion Jones, who crumpled to the ground in what momentarily looked like a bad injury. But after sitting out a few plays while trainers looked at his left leg, Jones returned to the field and there were no serious injuries on the day.
Johnson also scored a touchdown from about 25 yards during a situational drill working against the No. 2 defense.
“I thought we were physical today,” Locker said. “I felt like we ran the ball pretty well. There are some things we need to shore up but overall for a first day, I thought it was good.”
Asked what the team needs to shore up, Locker said “I think we could get a little more crisp on our timing routes and just every once in a while we were standing up inside the hole and we were bouncing it outside too often. If we can take care of those things we’ll be all right,”
The two-deep appeared pretty much unchanged other than Tyrone Duncan stepping in as a starter at one DT spot ahead of Jovon O’Connor and alongside Cameron Elisara. Johnie Kirton got a lot of looks with the No. 2 defense alongside Nick Wood at tackle. O’Connor didn’t appear to get much, if any, action.
The defensive line is a big question mark with only one real experienced player back in end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. But Donatell said he sees some encouraging signs.
“New guys are going to have different developmental patterns,” he said. “But I can say I’ve seen something I like out of everybody. Darrion has sown some good things through the week where a lot of his strength is now transferring to playing technique. Kalani (Aldrich, playing backup DE), and Johnie have shown a couple of things. Tyrone has shown a couple of things. We’ve see one bright spot here and there, and now we have to make it to where it shows more often. Cameron and Nick are brand new to this kind of thing and they show some positive signs.”
The only injuries that sidelined anyone for any length of time were suffered by safety Darin Harris and cornerback Jordan Murchison, who each missed much of practice (Harris almost all of it). UW coach Tyrone Willingham said the injuries were minor.
Still, they further depleted the depth in the secondary and had Tripper Johnson, in his first week with the football team after having played minor league baseball the last eight years, working with the second unit at one safety spot.
Johnson seemed to hold his own, at one point making an open-field tackle of Brandon Johnson.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It’s been a while (since he’s played football) but that was probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I got a lot of reps today and was pretty lost at some times, probably most of the time. But it’s coming. I’m starting to figure things out slowly. I know it’s going to take some time and I’m going to struggle. I know that. But I can just get better. I feel like I’m getting better every day.”
Other notable defensive performers included:
Vonzell McDowell, who had two interceptions (both of passes thrown by backup QB Ronnie Fouch, who didn’t have his best day). Said Donatell: “It’s nice to see him get some confidence. He seems like a kid really into things and really thriving right now.”
Victor Aiyewa, a sophomore who got a lot of time at strong safety with Harris out and impressed Donatell with his physicality. “The guy was physical out there and that’s something we want in our defense. If he continues to grow through the spring and master his assignments, the guy is going to be a candidate.”
— LBs Donald Butler and Mason Foster, who each had a few big hits.
— Walk-on WR Charles Hawkins didn’t participate after arriving from a funeral.
— Punters seemed to struggle, doing a lot of their kicking into a typical April breeze. Still, there were a lot of shanks,probably due in part to this being the first full pads day.
— Players who were working as punt returners were Goodwin, Boyles, McDowell, Aguilar and Matt Mosley.
— Tripper Johnson on his tackle of Brandon Johnson: “It’s been a while since I’ve done that. But I had Brandon in open space and I just tried to break down and get him to the ground any way I could. He made a move on me and I just stuck with it and made the tackle.”
— Walk-on fullback Tobias Togi is not practicing at the moment while dealing with some academic issues, Willingham said.
— Donatell on Tripper Johnson: “He’s a nice athlete and a nice kid. You do have to qualify it a little bit because he’s been doing something else for a few years. But I’ve always liked baseball guys because there’s something something that transfers from their eyes that enables their ability to play a ball.”
— Donatell on what is different about the system he is implementing: “There’s some terminology. The secondary will be played a little bit differently. There will be more man-to-man, that style of press will be a little different. But it’s really more the culture, developing a culture and a presence as a defense. It isn’t drastically different.”
— Donatell on the attitude of players: “These kids are eager. The look in their eyes. I haven’t seen as deep a look as I have here in a while, and it’s a good look.”
— Walk-on kicker Zach Gerasin of Irvine, Calif., has apparently left the team.
— About 150 high school coaches attended the clinic this weekend, many also watching practices the last two days. Most were from Washington but some came from California and Idaho.
— The Huskies are off until Tuesday.
UPDATE — One of you asked if there was anything new on E.J Savannah and J.R. Hasty. No. They did not practice today and spent the time running the stairs with Hawkins and Jason Wells. When there is something new I will definitely post it.



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