Like spring training in baseball, spring workouts for college football programs can be an emotional…
Saturday scrimmage report
The play on the field mirrored the weather as the defense dominated the offense for most of the sessions.
The number one offense consisted of Isaiah Stanback at quarterback, Mark Palaita at fullback, Louis Rankin at tailback with Corey Williams and Cody Ellis split wide and Rob Lewis at tight end.
The line featured Nathan Flowers and Chad Macklin at the tackles, Juan Garcia and Stanley Daniels at guard and Clay Walker in the pivot.
They faced off against the number two defense which included Ceasar Rayford and Daniel Te'o Nesheim at defensive end, Jordan Reffett and Jovon O'Connor at tackle, Chris Stevens at weakside linebacker, Darrion Jones on the strongside and Trenton Tuiasosopo in the middle.
The secondary was a hodgepodge of players but mainly the second unit featured Jason Wells at free safety, Chris Hemphill at strong safety, Shelton Sampson and Matt Fountaine at corner.
Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano spotted the ball at the one yard line and the offense was expected to bust their way out of the predicament while the defense did their best to not give an inch.
Stanback hit Luke Kravitz for a nine-yard gain out to the ten and then Rankin was stuffed for no gain. That was the theme for the day as both the first and second team offense struggled to get any sort of push against the disruptive defensive front.
When the second offense took the field the quarterback was Johnny DuRocher, with Kravitz at fullback and Kenny James at tailback. Split out wide were Chancellor Young and Charles Smith. This unit also featured three wideout sets a lot which included Alex Mercier and Ellis at different times. When they had a tight end in the game, Michael Gottlieb got the nod.
The second offensive line was comprised of Ben Ossai and Morgan Rosborough at tackle, Willie Kava and Ryan Bush at guard and Robert Lukevich at center.
When the first team defense took the field, the intensity was amped up just a bit as the line was very active all day. It featured Donny Mateaki and Wilson Afoa at the tackle spots, Walter Winter and Greyson Gunheim on the edges, Tahj Bomar at middle linebacker, Scott White on the weakside and Dan Howell on the strongside. E.J. Savannah subbed in a few times as well as Tuiasosopo, but that was generally the starting defensive front seven.
The defensive backfield was comprised of Dashon Goldson – who really seems to be taking to his new role at corner – and Roy Lewis manning the corners (switching with Jordan Murchison at different times) and a mixture of guys at safety (including Hemphill, Wells, Mesphin Forrester and Desmond Davis).
Goldson had the hit of the day when the teams were working on red-zone drills (the offense was positioned at the 15). DuRocher dropped back and hit Young coming across the middle. After two steps Goldson dropped his shoulder into the sophomore from O'Dea High School and the ensuing crack was heard around the stadium. His defensive mates and gave him a pat on the head and that seemed to really fire up the defense.
The offense struggled to move the ball at all until the team began their possessions from their own 30 yard line. DuRocher handed off to redshirt freshman running back J.R. Hasty who then scooted off the left side (which had been collapsed by Daniels and Flowers) for a 42-yard run, eventually getting corralled by Hemphill at the defense's 29-yardline.
Soon there after though, in a microcosm of the Huskies' troubles last year, the offense stalled eventually ending with a Hemphill pick of a DuRocher pass to Smith at the five. Hemphill showed pretty good speed as he eluded DuRocher on his way to a touchdown, but was almost caught by Young who was racing all the way from the other side of the field. Young caught the big junior safety at the one, but they tumbled into the endzone for a defensive touchdown.
New defensive backs coach J.D. Williams really made his presence felt as he was continually coaching up his players. On one goal line play, his cornerback was out of position so as the quarterback was calling out the play, Williams could be seen with his hand on the player's back pushing him into position. Then after the play was finished he was encouraging the same player to know his assignment the next time.
Stanback seems to be getting a feel for when he should keep his eyes downfield and look for an open man and when he should tuck the ball and use his amazing speed and athleticism.
On several plays, as he looked downfield for a receiver, Stanback brought the ball down, tucked it and then zipped through the secondary like a knife through butter. On one play he avoided a sack by Te'o Nesheim and then split Stevens and Tuiasosopo on his way to six points.
Mateaki was a terror inside most of the day, hampering the second-team offense from doing anything. If he wasn't sacking DuRocher (at least twice, including one that caused a fumble), he was forcing a double team that freed up Afoa or Gunheim for a free shot at the quarterback.
Rayford showed excellent pursuit from the far side on one play, able to track down James as he tried to go over the right side in a goal line sequence.
One of the plays that really got some people fired up was Goldson's near-shot on fourth-string QB Felix Sweetman.
The quarterbacks aren't live (meaning they can't be hit), but if they were, Sweetman might not have lasted very long. Goldson came on a blitz and timed it perfectly. All anyone saw was a flash of white before the referees in attendance blew the play dead.
All in all it was a typical spring practice that was somewhat hampered by the inclement weather. The players didn't look sharp and the defense was seemingly way ahead of the offense. Now that the halfway point in spring has been reached, it's a good bet that Willingham and his staff will be focusing on getting the offense back up to where it needs to be.
Seeing red: Several players were on the sidelines with red jersey's on but most took part in the limited position drills before the scrimmage. Jordan White-Frisbee was in pads while Durrell Moss, Anthony Russo and Sonny Shackelford were all riding bikes.
Kicking-battle update: Willingham noted to the press earlier in the day that Michael Braunstein has taken the lead in the kicking competition this spring. The junior from Gilbert, Az. showed a good leg in drills and was getting pretty good placement on his kickoffs.
Recruits in attendance: About 15 recruits were in the south stands as the practice commenced including O'Dea's Quinton Richardson.
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