Gold takes Spring Game 10-7

Ronnie Fouch (Dawgman.com)

SEATTLE - Tyrone Willingham wanted to see Ronnie Fouch, and he got what he wanted. Fouch combined for 153 yards passing playing for both the purple and gold teams, but led the Gold squad to a fourth-quarter touchdown to lead the Gold to a 10-7 win over the Purple team in front of roughly 9000 fans Saturday at Husky Stadium.

"It's been a good spring, and it fits with what we've been saying all along," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said of the game. "It confirmed what I've seen. Our defense, especially up front, wasn't really pushed around. They held their own. And our secondary made some plays and our receivers made some plays.

"We wanted to make sure the intensity was there. When you can play intense, you establish the right things."

Fouch, who had 99 yards passing for the Gold team, and 54 yards for the Purple, answered a Jake Locker-to-D'Andre Goodwin 11-yard touchdown pass with a 13-yard strike of his own to freshman receiver Devin Aguilar to put the Gold ahead for good.

The Purple team had two chances in the fourth quarter to tie with field goal attempts by both Jared Ballman and Ryan Perkins, but both were missed. In all, the only field goal in four attempts was a 39-yarder by Cory Rutkowski in the first half that hit the left upright before bounding through.

"They've had some good days, but we didn't see the fruits of their work today," Willingham said of his kickers. In fact, most all of the special teams was put on the back burner, as the kicking and punting game consisted of a clean catch and then a blown whistle, as both squads would start their drives on their own 30-yard line.

The only other part of the game that would appear to have been a negative was the number of penalties called. Overall, there were 10 flags thrown for a total of 80 yards.

"That was bothersome," Willingham said of the penalties. "That's not like us. But I'm not alarmed. We'll be back on track."

Overall, the Purple team outgained the Gold team 250-191, but the statistics were a bit skewed because of Fouch playing both sides. The Gold out-rushed the Purple 92-37, led behind the 71 yards of Willie Griffin. Chris Polk led the Purple with 20 yards on five carries.

Starting quarterback Jake Locker came into the spring hoping to work on his accuracy and proficiency in reading defenses, and he seemed to show that he's made strides in both areas. The sophomore from Ferndale finished the day 13-17 for 159 yards and one touchdown throw, but also threw an interception to cornerback Quinton Richardson.

"I thought our two quarterbacks passed the ball very well," said Willingham. "I thought there were only three passes that weren't where they needed to be (during the game)."

"I was able to get in three solid quarters of work, and I got equal snaps with Ronnie going into the fourth quarter, so I didn't feel slighted in the least," Locker said of his work for the day.

On one play near the end of the second quarter, Locker found himself under pressure, and Polk found himself wide-open along the south sidelines. Polk headed upfield, Locker threw in the flat, and what could have been a monster gain ended up as an incomplete pass.

"That was a wheel route and we had a five-man protection called and they brought seven, so I was trying to get the ball out," Locker said. "He (Polk) ran the right route, but I threw flat thinking that maybe he still left the flat on. Hopefully it's stuff like that we can work on over the summer so that by the time the season comes, we make that play."

Locker also took all his snaps with walk-on center Greg Christine, and besides a bobbled one he felt like the work between him and center went very smoothly.

With Juan Garcia out with a lisfranc injury to his left foot and Matt Sedillo hobbled a bit with a sore ankle, Christine proved to be a valuable asset.

With Mike Gottlieb out with an undisclosed illness, Chris Izbicki took advantage - pulling down two passes for 23 yards. "We've been pleased with Michael Gottlieb and Chris Izbicki," Willingham said. "They've done a good job. But Chris should be stepping up and making some plays.

"We were very fortunate to come out pretty healthy."

Defensively, new Washington Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell tried to disguise some rush packages and overload some things to create confusion along the line of scrimmage. "Disguising what we do is important, and we are always coaching our safeties not to give our looks away," he said. "That's our intent.

"This group is willing and working hard. Each week we're taking small steps. Our guys are buying in, so now it's important and take another step in the summer with our leaders."

One of those players that showed consistent pressure in a number of disguises was Trenton Tuiasosopo. Last season, he wasn't considered one of the real blitzing leaders of the linebacking corps. That role was given to others, like Mason Foster, Chris Stevens and E.J. Savannah. But if this spring game was any indication, the senior from Everett could be disrupting some Pac-10 backfields this fall.

"We look for traits in people, and he's just a roughneck," Donatell said of Tuiasosopo. "And when guys are physical like that, we want to put them in a position to be a part of that kind of matchup."

"He (Tuiasosopo) is a tough football player, who, if he can handle some different roles he'll be a big part of what we're doing," Willingham added. "I think the accident really affected him and he's still developing, still growing as a player."

Overall, safety Nate Williams led the Purple team with seven tackles and one tackle for loss, while Mason Foster had six tackles and one TFL and Victor Aiyewa and Darrion Jones each had five tackles. Jones added a tackle for loss and a sack. For the Gold team, E.J. Savannah racked up eight tackles, two TFL's and a sack, while backup linebacker Cort Dennison had six tackles and DE Tyrone Duncan had five.

"He's still catching up, but he made some nice plays, made some nice hits," Willingham said of Savannah.

The two main storylines on defense heading into the spring game had to do with the size of the UW secondary, and the size of the Huskies' front line. Donatell looks to have revamped things in the back third to show opponents he's not afraid to go bigger and stronger with his defensive backs. "Our secondary is still very fluid," he said. "We still want toughness. We want to be a physical secondary, with size."

And with a defensive line that averaged 265 across both squads Saturday, did Donatell feel like they held up under some pressure? "We think our o-line is a good Pac-10 o-line, and we've hung in pretty good," he said. "We want to more square, more stout. And when you go up against a competitor like that (Locker), it gives your defense such an advantage, because he's going to make you better."

"I hope you saw a more physical presence on defense," Willingham added.

"Hopefully we have an understanding of where we need to go."

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