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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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April 4, 2008 3:03 PM

Friday Willingham notes

Posted by Bob Condotta

UW coach Tyrone Willingham wrapped up his pre-practice press briefing for today saying he was pleased wiith a lot of what he saw the first day of practice on Thursday but that he's hoping to see some quick progress from his group this spring.

"The thing I like again is there seems to be good energy,'' he said. "Hopefully that's a sign of some confidence and I still say yes, we are maturing, but we need to mature more because we are young and learning in a lot of places and we have to change that quickly.''

A lot of offensive work Thursday revolved around deep passes, something Willingham said seemed to excite a lot of the players on that side of the ball.

Asked why there was an emphasis on deep passes, Willingham said "it was just based on really the installation that was placed in yesterday called for us to do a little bit more of those than we've probably done in the past. But we also think that's one of the areas we are excited about improving in our passing game being able to throw the deep ball better because we know that our quarterback has the ability to do it and has done it excellent on occasion. But we need more consistency and it's also an area we feel features the skills of our young receivers, so that combination of installation, talent coming in and something we need to work on probably led (to working more on the deep ball Thursday).''

A few other notes:

--- WR Anthony Boyles was indeed running steps for some unspecificed disciplinary reason, but Willingham said "it's over and done with'' and that Boyles is taking part in practice.

--- There were no new injuries of note.

--- Willingham said the first couple days of practice "are always more mental'' than physical, but maybe more so this year because of the addition of new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. "We've got a different system, we are learning a different language and when you are speaking a different language you are a little more tentative. So our guys are going through that mental process as much as anything else. And it was our first day, so you are getting back into it, kind of getting a feel for things. It's nice to do all the drills in the winter, but there is nothing like playing football, so we are back to playing football.''

--- Willingham said linebacker Donald Butler appears to be in good health after battling knee problems most of last season. "I think there's still going to be some effects of it, but he started camp in excellent shape. There were some things able to be remedied and able to get done in his knee that didn't require surgery that seem to have helped him tremendously and may be a chance he may be injury-free with that knee.''

--- Asked about the condition of Johnie Kirton and Luke Kravitz, who spent the winter quarter studying in South Africa, Willingham said "being away is different, and they would be the first to tell you.'' While he said there are some drawbacks to such trips, notably missing off-season conditioning, he also said he generally would encourage such trips. "I think they grew, and that's always a good thing,'' he said.

--- Kirton said he weighs 280 pounds and Willingham said that's fine with him. "I just want him to make plays, that's all,'' he said. "The biggest thing he's got to do right now is just learn, and there's a lot to learn. And in the process we don't want him to lose the aggressiveness.''

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