Aug. 19, 2008
SEATTLE - Tuesday brought better weather back to the Husky football team's fall training camp, as the squad spent the morning in the weight room and in meetings with a full-squad, afternoon practice waiting in the afternoon.
More Videos: Jake Locker Meets With the Media
Coach Willingham addressed the team's youth when questioned during his daily meeting with the press. With several units on his team made up of mostly very young players, Willingham offered a few advantages of that youth.
"Youth does bring some very good things with it," he said. "They come into it very fresh. They come into it very aggressive, very competitive. There are some really great things that they bring to the table."
Not surprisingly, the press also had questions about UW quarterback Jake Locker and his recovery from a hamstring injury. In Monday's practice, Locker participated in full pads for the first time in more than a week. Willingham was happy with the progress, but noted that caution still remains a key for Locker.
"He's still limited," Willingham said. "I've said this, but we'll be day-to-day with him. We'll be very cautious about what we do. Hamstrings can take some time. I thought for what he did yesterday, he looked pretty good."
"The key thing is to have him as close to full speed as possible," Willingham concluded.
With Locker the unquestioned leader of the offense, one of the clear leaders of the defense is inside linebacker Donald Butler. GoHuskies.com spoke with Butler Tuesday. Here's what the junior from Sacramento had to say:
As an inside backer, you're one of the quarterbacks of the defense. How's that defense looking?
"The defense is looking good. It's looking real good. We got some things we need to correct and we have some time to try and get that done, but for the most part things are looking good."
You're part of a group of linebackers that's been together for a couple of years now. Has that been a helpful part of the defense's progression?
"Oh yeah, whenever you can bring guys that had a lot of playing time last year, and you can bring them back for a second year, it's great. We communicate well out there and we gel on and off the field, so it's always good."
There have been a couple of position changes on the defense this year - Mesphin Forrester is moving from safety to cornerback, Johnie Kirton is moving from tight end to the defensive line - how are those guys coming along and how is that affecting the defense?
"Well, physically Johnie Kirton is just a beast, so having him play in front of me helps me out that much more. And Mesphin, he played some corner along with safety last year, so that transition wasn't too hard for him."
How has it been playing under new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell? How is the system working differently and how is practice working differently?
"Coach Donatell, well he's a great coach coming from the NFL. He's just been emphasizing getting turnovers and getting to the ball as the most important things out there on the field. Also, just having fun. You know, when you're having fun you're playing your best and you make your best plays."
In terms of the new guys coming in on defense, which players have impressed you these first couple weeks and which do you see making an impact?
"Well, we got those three big Polynesian guys - Everrette Thompson, Alameda [Ta'amu], and Senio [Kelemete]. All big guys that are looking like maybe they could play this year, I don't know, but they're looking good out there. We got a couple young linebackers, Kurt Mangum and Brad [Roussel], so those guys are out there looking good and doing what they're supposed to do - learn the system."
As a junior you're now one of the more veteran guys on the team, so how are you dealing with the responsibility of being one of the leaders out there now?
"I think, with my position, it kind of comes. I'm basically taking it and trying to run with it. I think the guys look up to me, and I appreciate that, and I'm trying to make sure that I'm the best leader I can be."