Aug. 20, 2008
SEATTLE - The 17th day of Washington's preseason football camp included what was likely a welcome respite for most of the team. After a full-pads morning practice, the scheduled afternoon practice was called off.
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"Rest is always important. We felt like it's the right time to put a little rest in there," Willingham said. "We had some time built into the schedule because we anticipated that we might need it."
He went on to explain that this afternoon's practice wasn't meant to be that physically demanding in the first place, as it was slated as a "mock game" in which coaches mostly go over situation substitutions, etc.
"What we had scheduled this afternoon was really a rest for the guys in terms of what we did on the field," Willingham explained. "We call it a mock game, and it's more for the coaches than it is for the players."
Not surprisingly, Willingham was asked about quarterback Jake Locker and his continued return from an earlier injury. The progress report was good.
"Jake has been fine. Obviously, he's not doing everything and we're not including him in everything," Willingham said. "But he probably could do everything."
Coach Willingham also praised his youthful units in the offensive backfield and the defensive line, indicating that he and the coaching staff have been pleased with their progress.
Earlier this week, GoHuskies.com had a chance to speak with one of the elders of the offensive backfield, Paul Homer. Here's what the junior from Nebraska had to say:
How are the first couple weeks of camp feeling?
"Actually, I feel really, really sore and tired, but it's going pretty well."
You guys have an assortment of running backs that could all see some action. How are they looking and what's it like blocking for three or four different backs?
"All of our guys are doing some good things and showing their ability. It's fun to block for them and it is kind of different for each person. You just have to know your personnel, but it's going pretty well."
Playing alongside a guy like Jake Locker who demands a lot of attention from opposing defenses, how does that affect the other ball carriers in the offense?
"Because he's definitely a threat, the defense always has to use somebody to spy him, so it just takes away another guy that we don't have to block."
You've gained some notoriety as a no-glory, blocking only fullback. Are you happy with that reputation and is it something you take pride in?
"Definitely, I love it. As long as we're winning, that's all I care about."
In week three you guys have Oklahoma, a program known for their tough, hard-hitting defense, are you getting ready to smash heads with a defense like that?
"Actually, I'm getting ready for Oregon. Week three will be week three and I'll get ready for it then."
Let's talk about Oregon. How is the preparation going for that game offensively?
"We just started looking in to what their defense is going to do and just started watching more film on them. We're setting up a game plan for them and I think it's looking pretty good."
Last year you and Luke Kravitz split time and developed a good dual-fullback system. Is that going to happen again and how are you guys building off each other?
"I don't know about the playing time situation, but we're definitely pushing each other and making each other better. Austin Sylvester is also in there, and he's coming up doing really well, too."