April 12, 2003
Seattle - Washington's first spring scrimmage successfully concluded today at Husky Stadium, marking the midway point in this year's spring practice season. The scrimmage was highlighted by the Huskies emphasis on the running game. One down note was the loss of redshirt freshman runningback Kenny James, who suffered a sprained right knee and is expected to miss the remainder of the spring. James should be able to return for summer conditioning and practice this fall.
"I am encouraged," Neuheisel says. "I think there are a lot of good things, certainly lots to clean up, and when we get everybody on the same page, I think we'll like what we have.
"That's certainly not to say we're satisfied or anywhere close to where we want to be, but I do think we're playing at a little bit better pad level and I think we're more physical now, we just got to get all our assignment things wired down keep coaching them hard. We're going to keep working until we get where we need to be."
The focus of the day centered on improving the Husky running game, as Shelton Sampson and Chris Singleton traded off at the tailback position combining for 96 yards on 32 attempts. Kenny James had three rushes for nine yards, but sprained his MCL after being tackled.
"Kenny's loss is just an unfortunate occurrence," Neuheisel says. "The good news is this isn't anything that's going to require surgery, and we'll hope he'll be fine when we get into the off season."
Highlighting the ground game was a 35 yard sprint up the sideline by Sampson, before he was finally pushed out of bounds.
"I thought he [Sampson] did some good things," Neuheisel said. "He is certainly blessed with great speed and quickness. At times he needs to learn how to get his pads down, and get a three yard gain instead of looking for a thirty yard gain. He still has a long way to go as pass blocker, and in terms of taking care of the ball. The bright side for Shelton today is there were no fumbles, and that has not happened up to date. He's a gifted athlete and we'll find a place for him."
In addition to the running game, work was done on deciding who will back up quarterback Cody Pickett. Casey Paus and Isaiah Stanback each attempted eight passes, and had a chance at running the ball, but the star of the show was Pickett who completed 12 of 19 for 210 yards.
Pickett's long came on a 66 yard pass to All-American Reggie Williams who juked a couple of defenders before running into the endzone for a touchdown. Although very successful throwing the ball, Pickett remained focus on the goals of the team.
"That' what we did a lot last year, we threw the ball a lot, and we need to run the ball at certain times, and I think we will be able to do that," said the senior quarterback. "We have lots of confidence in our passing game, and we will in the running game as well. We know we can throw fades and streaks, but we got to develop our running game now."
On defense, senior Greg Carothers seemed to be adapting more to his new outside linebacker position as he posted six tackles, one for a six yard loss, and a sack. James Sims also performed well with five tackles, one for a two yard loss, and an interception.
The Huskies will continue to practice for the Purple and Gold game on April 26th at 12:30 at Husky Stadium, with one more scrimmage scheduled for Friday April 20th.