Aug. 12, 2009
POST-PRACTICE UPDATE: The Washington football team went through its third practice of the fall Wednesday afternoon on a more-than-pleasant afternoon at Husky Stadium. What has become a regular crowd of about 200-300 were on hand as the Dawgs donned their shoulder pads for the first time.
And, while it was only shoulder pads and helmets, you'd have been hard-pressed to notice the difference from full pads as "physical" was probably the most oft-used word to describe the session.
In Coach Steve Sarkisian's meeting with the press afterwards, there wasn't much in the way of real news, in terms of personnel, injuries and the like. He did mention that the defense won the day while at the same time noting the play of freshman wideout James Johnson, who found his way into the endzone several times.
Observers would also have noted the play of redshirt-freshman safety Greg Walker, whose big hits and interceptions were a key to the defense's advantage.
Tomorrow marks another 3:00 p.m., half-pad practice. Friday is another single-day workout (3:00 p.m.), but should feature full pads. Then comes the first two-a-day of the fall Saturday and finally Picture Day Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
In the meantime, GoHuskies.com took a few minutes to speak with several Husky veterans in the last couple of days. First up are junior offensive tackle Cody Habben, senior linebacker Donald Butler and junior defensive tackle Cameron Elisara.
Habben, from Skyline High School, started all 12 games a year ago, all at right tackle. During the spring, he made a move to left tackle and has worked out at that position here in the early days of the fall. Here's what he had to say:
Habben: It's fun to get back into it. It's nice to be back here and doing what we love. It's early. Soon, we'll be in full pads and everyone's excited about that.
GoHuskies.com: Can you talk about the new look at practice? With the new wave of coaches, what are some of the biggest changes?
Habben: Our energy is definitely very hyped up. We're very energetic and we're getting after it. The coaches keep you very motivated and keep you going constantly. It's really nice having that backing and that motivation.
GoHuskies.com: There have been some changes on the offensive line - Senio Kelemete has switched to offense and Ryan Tolar has moved to center. How is everybody meshing?
Habben: I think it's going well. We've got a great five guys out there and there are definitely some guys that are right behind them pushing for the starting spots. I think everyone is doing well in their position change and they're doing a good job.
GoHuskies.com: LSU always has great defensive lines. How are you guys preparing for that?
Habben: I guess you sort of take it as any game, not many changes. You watch film on them, see what they're doing, how they were last year and what not. You take it like any other game.
Butler started 11 of 12 games last season at linebacker. He was fourth on the team with 69 tackles to go along with seven tackles for loss and two sacks. He's been a fixture in the linebacking corps for a while now. Here are his thoughts:
Butler: Things are going well. You know, two days into practice, being out here with the coaches for the first time since spring ball ... we're having fun.
GoHuskies.com: Talk about Nick Holt. With the season closer, is there anything new that's surprising you about him?
Butler: No it's the same Coach Holt. We saw him in the spring and he just brings that intensity, along with all the other guys on the coaching staff, every single day. Always getting on us, always getting us fired up, always getting us out here ready to work.
GoHuskies.com: Can you talk about the new philosophy on defense? You guys are going after it a little more. What are the changes and how are they working out?
Butler: USC had one of the best defenses in the country and Nick Holt and some of the other guys were a part of that. Obviously they were doing something right so there's going to be some similarities. We're trying to be a better defense. We want to be the best defense in the Pac 10.
GoHuskies.com: As a linebacker, how are you preparing for LSU QB Jordan Jefferson?
Butler: I don't know too much about him. To me, he's another quarterback. Another quarterback I want to get after. That's how I look at it and we go from there.
Elisara, a junior from Spokane, started seven games at one defensive tackle spot a year ago. He's back in that role as fall camp gets underway. Here are a few words from him:
GoHuskies.com: Talk about how the first two days of practice are going.
Elisara: I'm having a lot of fun. It's been a long time coming, a long time since spring ball. We put the pads on soon, but it's fun to be out here.
Elisara: It's coming across well and everyone's adapting to it well. I think we had a lot better start to fall camp then we did in spring ball, so I think the carry over from the spring has been good. I think we're going to do some good things.
GoHuskies.com: On the defensive side, it's your second year now working with the same group of guys. Are you noticing the influence?
Elisara: We're definitely building a lot of chemistry. The longer you're around somebody the more chemistry you feel. You want to play more for them, plus you know how they play on the field. It's starting to show up on the field. We're starting to read each other, know how each other plays, and feeding off each other's emotions.
GoHuskies.com: How much are you thinking about LSU?
Elisara: Man don't get me started. Honestly it's been on my mind for the longest time. I'm trying not to think too far ahead to the game, I've got to focus on practices one at a time.