“I think spring was very productive for both the coaches and the players,” defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. “We’re working hard and that’s the main thing. Never be satisfied with what you’re doing. Always work to get better.”
The players echoed Baer’s statement following the game that saw the Purple defeat the Gold team 24-3.
“We’re working hard,” junior DT Erik Lobos said. “We play hard all the time and we’re getting used each other. We’re just working to improve and pushing each other every day. Now with spring over we know where we need to work more on and how all of the young players need to come along.
DE Greyson Gunheim said it was nice to get some live competition out of their system and now it’s time to begin their offseason workouts.
“This offseason we’re going to work harder than ever before,” Gunheim said. “We’re focused on improving and coming off the edge and making plays. The only way to do that is to work hard and improve this offseason.”
For quarterback Isaiah Stanback, who made a huge leap in his progression from athlete to quarterback as a junior in 2005, he expects that to happen again this offseason.
“No matter what I’m always going to work hard,” Stanback said. “I had a tough day last Thursday and I wanted to come out and be better today. It’s totally different this year, it’s my second year in the system so my knowledge is much better than it’s ever been and that’s the biggest thing.”
The offensive line has been a worrisome aspect of the Husky offense this spring as they are replacing five of their top eight lineman this fall. C Juan Garcia is one of the new faces that will be tasked with clearing a path for the running backs and protecting Stanback and the other quarterbacks.
“We know we have a big task ahead of us,” Garcia said, happy to finally make it through a spring without an injury. “I know we’re up to the challenge. We take pride in doing what needs to be done and getting after it. I’m so looking forward to this fall and playing and showing everyone what we’re all about. Just wait and see.”
Senior G Stanley Daniels has already seen what he needs to see from his linemates.
“I think we’re going to be a very good line this fall,” Daniels said. “We lost some experience last year, but right now we have guys that are hungry. Juan is hungry to play, I’m hungry for wins, Clay (Walker) and Chad (Macklin) are ready for wins to. We know our jobs are we’re becoming more comfortable with each other every day.
“Even this offseason, we’ll be working out together, having barbeques and just hanging out and being together. You have to trust what one guy is doing and know everyone’s assignment and make sure you do yours as best as you can do. If you do that, then everything will come out like you want it to. The offensive line might be five guys, but we’re one unit. That’s how we look at it.”
Garcia had been switched to guard during the spring because of a lack of knowledge of his assignments and adjustment calls. He says that’s been rectified and he’s now the full-time center, while Walker has moved back to his more natural position of guard.
“It took a while for me to get my assignments and the plays down,” admitted Garcia. “Guys would tell me ‘Hey, you need to do this or you need to pick up this guy’ and it finally started to click for me this past week or so. I’m really feeling comfortable and working hard to be the best I can be in there.”
Garcia took all of the snaps with the starting offensive unit on Saturday and was flanked by Daniels and redshirt freshman Ben Ossai on the left side and Walker and Macklin on the right. Willingham said that every position continues to be up-for-grabs, but this appears to be the number one offensive line heading into fall camp.
Another player who has made the most of his spring is senior CB Dashon Goldson, who moved from free safety to the outside and appears to have found a home.
“I’m real comfortable,” Goldson said. “(The scrimmage) was good for the first time in a game time position. I’m coming along.
“I miss safety, but I like corner right now. It’s a challenge, but I know it will help me out for my career so I like it. You’re on an island and you have your man and it’s not downhill like at safety, but it isn’t that much different.”
One of his teammates, CB Roy Lewis, is happy to have a healthy competition between the two starters on the outside, a friendly rivalry that was first borne at Narbonne high school in California.
“Oh yeah, we’ve always had that together,” Lewis said with a smile. “It’s great having him on the other side of me and watching him do his thing. We’re always competing, whether it’s against each other or the wide receivers, we are always trying to work hard and get better so we can help the team as best we can.”
Improvement is the key to the Husky offseason and the competitions at every position are the first piece to the puzzle.