Husky Football Blog
Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.
August 6, 2008 6:55 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
Here's the latest installment of what will be our nightly wrapup of the day that was at Husky football camp:
WHAT HAPPENED --- The Huskies held the first of their split squad practices, with half the team beginning practice at about 2:30 p.m., the other half joining them at about 4 or so for a half-hour of work together (which usually includes special teams) and then the second half continuing by itself for another 90 minutes or so. This is one of four split-squad practices on the schedule this year.
THE BIG STORY --- Nothing new in terms of injuries or personnel moves came to light today. Of most potential impact, RB Brandon Johnson revealed that he had surgery in early May to correct the knee injury suffered during spring ball that resulted in a torn PCL and meniscus. He said the PCL injury dated to high school but that he never had it repaired. Johnson said the cold spring in Seattle prevented the injury from healing as quickly as he'd hoped and that he isn't 100 percent yet. "It's still bothering me a little bit, but it's improving,'' he said. If Johnson remains less than 100 percent for long, however, it could open the door for some other players to emerge as the starting tailback at what is a wide-open position.
THE BIG STORY, NO. 2 --- A couple of people have sent to me the post by former UW kicker John Anderson on Dawgman.com. It's titled "Why Ty is the wrong man'' which should tell you all you need to know about where it goes from there. It's on Dawgman's premium board so you can only read it with a subscription. But in a nutshell, Anderson says Willingham doesn't have a consistent track record of success to make one believe he will turn the program around, has alienated boosters and media and subsequently isn't drawing the money to the program that would come in otherwise, and has made football less fun for his players. I seriously debated whether to even mention this. Ultimately, I felt it worth it because: A, it's already out there and; B, it illustrates pretty clearly the unrest there is right now in Husky nation where a former player of Anderson's stature --- think what you want of a field goal kicker, but he has scored more points (363) than all but one other player in the history of the program (Jeff Jaeger) --- was willing to go at least semi-public (and surely knowing it would be picked up on from there to get a wider airing) with a scathing critique of the current coach. As we all know, the only thing that will quiet the debate is wins --- the question remains, how many is needed to do that.
INJURY REPORT: Other than the Johnson stuff detailed above, incoming DL Alameda Ta'amu said he suffered a hairline fracture of the fourth metatarsal last season at Rainier Beach and is still in the mode where he at least needs to be careful to make sure it doesn't act up too much. Ta'amu could be called on to play this season on a young D-line, with position coach Randy Hart telling me that all four of the freshmen --- including those who have yet to show up --- could be called upon before the season ends. "I'm not ruling anybody out,'' he said. I'll have more of my conversation with Hart in the paper and on-line tomorrow.
QUESTIONS OF THE DAY: In what I hope to make a running feature of this section, I'll answer a couple of the more pertinent questions raised on the comments section during the day. Here are a couple from today:
Q: Is Chris Polk being considered for special teams, running back punts or kickoffs?
A: Definitely. He handled many kickoffs during the spring and seems a natural for that spot.
Q: Is Hawaii making a return trip to Seattle for the game UW played there last year?
A: Yes. My understanding is Hawaii will come here in 2011, though future schedules are always subject to change.
Q: What can you tell me about the status of the incoming freshmen who aren't here yet, particularly Craig Noble?
A: My understanding is that Noble needed to pass the California High School Exit Exam, kind of like the WASL in this state. He's reportedly still waiting on results. If he passes, he's said to be good to go otherwise. Dominique Blackman has already said he won't be able to enroll until January. The other three -- Demitrius Bronson, Vince Taylor and Senio Kelemete --- could theoretically be in at any time, given what we know. Bronson is said to be finishing up retaking a few classes while Taylor and Kelemete are thought to have issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Taylor and Kelemete were both in UW's summer bridge program, indicating that they had passed a certain level of muster with the school. One person told me that some of the procedures for processing transcripts at Evergreen (Kelemete's school) had changed recently and that that might be the hold up. UPDATE --- There are rumors tonight that Taylor may be in tomorrow (Thursday).
WHAT'S NEXT: UW is scheduled to hold one practice tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. The players will again be in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.
August 6, 2008 3:23 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
The Huskies hit the field at about 2:30 p.m. today in what is a blistering heat by Seattle standards.
Well, about half of them, anyway.
This was the first of UW's split squad practices for fall camp, where the team essentially breaks into two groups, which coach Tyrone Willingham thinks allows for better work --- the thinking being that each group cam get more done working in smaller units. It usually works that the two groups meet together for about for about 30 minutes connecting the two sessions, usually to work on special teams.
The Huskies appear to have only four of those this year, however, two this week, down a little from previous years when they would usually do it every other day or so.
We got to watch the first 25 minutes of the first practice, which appeared to feature the starters and deep reserves.
The linebackers, for instance, featured the three starters --- Josh Gage, Donald Butler and Mason Foster --- as well as Chris Stevens and walk-ons Brandon Huppert, Riley Gervais and T.J. Poe.
The second practice will apparently feature the backups as well as most of the true freshmen though two true frosh I noticed were DLs Alameda Ta'amu and Everrette Thompson.
The team wore helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, indicating it would do some of its first hitting of the season.
Of note from practice:
--- Chris Polk was again working with the tailbacks with one knowledgable person telling me he expects Polk to stay there. "He's the best running back they have,'' the person said, saying Polk was the most electrifying RB UW has had since Napoleon Kaufman.
--- Juan Garcia was in uniform and working out with the line. During the conditioning drills he appeared to avoid anything that wasn't a straight-line run.
--- The Huskies will have their first full pads, full-contact practice on Friday after completing the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period.
All for now.
August 6, 2008 1:38 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
Seemingly every year at this time, UW coach Tyrone Willingham lays out the possibility that the team could play more than one quarterback.
He did so again on Tuesday, which seems surprising in light of the obvious talent and value of starter Jake Locker.
But asked a question about backup Ronnie Fouch, Willingham said the Huskies may look for ways to get him into the game, saying it would "allow Jake to get some rest and put him (Fouch) in a more advantageous position'' for the future.
I'm not sure I'd hold my breath waiting for that to happen. It didn't happen either of the past two years when it seemed like it might have made more sense.
Still, Fouch said today the coaches have told him the same thing, holding out the carrot that if he performs well in camp, he could earn playing time that wouldn't be dependent solely on Locker's health.
"They've told me a little bit of that,'' Fouch said today. "They just want to see how camp goes, how ready I am, and take it from there.''
More likely, the Husky coaches want to give Fouch every motivation to get as ready as possible in case he is suddenly needed.
UW has had to give at least one start to its backup quarterback each of the last two seasons for health reasons, making the Huskies one of seven Pac-10 schools that had to dip into the well and give their backup at least one start last year.
The main thing Fouch may need to show UW coaches is improved accuracy after a spring filled with errant passes.
Fouch said he spent the summer working on quickening his release and making sure his feet were in the proper position.
"A lot of times I was taking too big a step when I throw, so it's just keeping my base and getting more power on my throws,'' he said. "I feel like it's helped me a lot. I'm throwing a lot better than I did during the spring.''
He also said he feels stronger. Still listed at 205, he said he added strength during the off-season, and a cursory glance at him appears to show that he's filled out quite a bit from when he arrived at UW prior to the spring in 2007.
August 6, 2008 1:21 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
UW has just announced that the Sept. 27 home game against Stanford will kick off at 7 p.m. so that it can be televised live on Fox Sports Northwest and Fox College Sports.
That gives UW at least five games this season that will kick off at 4 p.m. or later. The others are Oregon (7 p.m.), Oklahoma (4:45 p.m.), Oregon State (4 p.m.) and Notre Dame (5 p.m.).
Only two other times have been set --- BYU and Washington State, each at noon. That leaves five other games with kickoff times and TV situations still be announced, meaning more night games could still be on the horizon.
August 6, 2008 12:52 PM
Posted by Bob Condotta
Not a lot of real news today.
The team was in shorts again yesterday, so no injury news of note from Tyrone Willingham when he met the media before practice. Things will start to ramp up a bit today as the team puts on shoulder pads for the first time this camp and does a little bit of hitting. The Huskies will go into full pads for the first time Friday, and then hold its first two-a-day on Saturday.
No additions or substractions to the roster, either, though E.J. Savannah was again seen on-campus, talking to some players outside the team's lunch room. Not sure what to read into that, but certainly looks as if Savannah is keeping close to the program and attempting to do whatever is needed to get back on the roster.
Willingham talked again about the team's conditioning, saying it was good and that "we only had a few guys who didn't make the standard'' during the conditioning test on Monday. No word on who they are.
He mentioned Jake Locker, D'Andre Goodwin and Mesphin Forrester as those who have come back in paricularly good shape.
Willingham also said he "welcomes'' the heat that has hit Seattle the past few days, thinking it will be a good mental test for his players to battle through early in camp.
Willingham said it was too early to make any real assessment of the freshmen, saying "they are all swimming'' right now while trying to assimilate the playbook. "And the swimming doesn't really start yet,'' he added, noting things will only get more complicated down the road.
I talked a bit with Brandon Johnson, who said he is still not 100 percent after arthroscopic surgery after spring, but that he thinks he will be soon. He said he weighs 205 pounds but would like to get to about 210.
Also talked briefly with Alameda Ta'amu, who said he is still recovering from a foot injury suffered during the season last year at Rainier Beach but that he doesn't think it will be a big impediment to playing this season.
I'll try to have more on both of those conversations later.
August 6, 2008 9:15 AM
Posted by Bob Condotta
And on a day like this in Seattle, these are truly hot links:
--- For my main story today I wrote about UW walk-on receiver Chancellor Young and his long route to returning to the Huskies.
--- There was also this look at day two of camp.
--- The Eugene Register-Guard looks at Oregon's linebacking situation, which will be a key in the Ducks' attempts to contain Jake Locker come Aug. 30.
--- BYU may be without its starting center, Tom Sorenson, when it plays UW.
--- ESPN's Ted Miller has this look at Pac-10 coaches on the hot seat, listing Tyrone Willingham and Mike Stoops.
--- Miller also rates the coaches and has Willingham seventh, ahead of Jim Harbaugh, Stoops and Paul Wulff.
--- Jordan Reffett is in camp with the Steelers but missed practice Wednesday to be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple's second child.
--- JagNation.com says Khalif Barnes is in a tough battle for his starting job with Jacksonville and could be cut if he loses it.
--- More talk about the improvement of Isaiah Stanback in Dallas.
--- Dennis Dodd ranks all 42 of the BCS bowl games ever played and has the UW-Purdue Rose Bowl at No. 35.
--- The Wizard of Odds unleashes its annual rant about 40 times. A reminder to sometimes take those things with a grain of salt.
All for now.