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Spring Football: Toledo Adapting to Change
Release: 04/01/2005
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April 1, 2005

By Brian Tom
UW Media Relations

Joe Toledo may not look too different from last football season, but he is definitely a changed man. Not only is the senior from Encinitas, Calif. adapting to a new coaching staff like the rest of his teammates, but Toledo is entering spring giving his best shot at a new position.

Toledo, who caught 19 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns as a tight end in 2004, is trading in his receiving gloves to try his hat at weakside tackle on the Huskies' offensive line. According to Toledo, it's a welcome change that will take some time getting used to.

"It's a little different in that you're blocking on every play and not going out on any routes or catching the ball," said Toledo about the position change. "It was partially my decision and partially Coach (Tyrone) Willingham's decision. I came in and talked to him and asked him where I could help out the team most. He thought that playing the weak tackle position would help us out a little more. It's a little different, but I think it will help out our team in the long run."

The position switch may also pay dividends for Toledo's NFL future. Toledo has bulked up to 315 pounds from his playing weight of 285 last fall, but has retained most of his speed that made him a receiving threat. But the NFL is down the road and Toledo's concern right now is with the current Huskies.

"People that I've talked to seem to feel that way," said Toledo about the way the position switch will improve his NFL draft status. "I'm not really concentrating on that right now though. I'm more concerned about improving on last year and getting some wins."

In order to get more wins, the offensive line will have to gel quickly and be able to replace graduated senior and probable NFL first-round draft pick Khalif Barnes, who was a stalwart on the line for most of the past four seasons. Barnes was responsible for protecting the quarterback's blind side, a job that will now be in the hands of Toledo, sophomore Chad Macklin or junior Jason Benn.

"It a sense of pride," said Toledo about the assignment of protecting the quarterback's blind side. "I'm glad we're doing this in the spring though so I can get the 15 practices under my belt and try to improve. But I'm not going to back down and I'm not intimidated at all."

Noting the Huskies

Impressions on the First Day of Practice

"It seemed like we were doing everything for a purpose. We were not just out there doing something to do it. We knew everything we did, there was a reason behind it." - offensive tackle Joe Toledo

"It felt good to be back out with the team and start all over again. With a new coach, it's a new beginning. It was a long off season. You feel like you have a lot of dirt in your mouth and you've just got to clean it out." - defensive tackle Manase Hopoi

"It seemed like everything was geared toward team. Everyone was running to the ball. It seemed like everything was fast because everybody was always moving. There was a lot of talking out there. It was different." -- Hopoi

"It was a good start. There was a lot of learning that had to take place. We've got a lot of work to do. It was all good." - head coach Tyrone Willingham

"There were mistakes, there were missed assignments, there were things of that nature. It was not to the extent that it was disruptive to our practice. We were able to get things done because a huge amount of learning had taken place." - head coach Tyrone Willingham

More from the Head Coach

Willingham announced that redshirt freshman offensive guard Tyler Ashby is no longer with the team.

"We're going to play the game of football. We're going to practice our fundamentals and at some point during our practice we'll actually play the game of football." - Willingham on the team's first pads practice Saturday.

"Learning the system is critical to our success, but attitude is number one. Good football teams play hard. You can't play hard sometimes. You have to practice the right way. The old saying that 'Practice makes perfect,' is as far from the truth as possible. Perfect practice make perfect. That's what we're interested in." - Willingham on the early emphasis in practice.

More from the Huskies

"I've been around. I've lettered for three years, I've played for three years. Leaders are the guys who step up and play well and the other look up to them. I'd like to step up and take more of that type of role." - Joe Toledo on being a leader.

"I think tight end and tackle are about as similar of positions as you can get. You are doing a lot of similar things as far as the blocking schemes. Everybody is learning a new offense and a new system, a new scheme, new terminology. It's different for everybody. I might be learning a little bit more than some others, but I'll get it done." - Joe Toledo on moving to tackle.

"Right now I'm tying to help others to make plays. I've been a good pass rusher and I'm trying to pass those skills along to the other defensive line. If someone double teams me, and someone else can get to the quarterback, that's good. I want people to have to worry about our whole defensive line instead of just one or two men." - Manase Hopoi on helping to develop the younger players.

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