Puyallup Pair Shows Poise -- Hobert, Kralik Spark Offense
Billy Joe Hobert and Joe Kralik have a few things to accomplish before they can be considered candidates for the Husky Hall of Fame.
But the longtime friends combined to allay fears about a drop-off in Washington's passing attack by leading the Purple team to a 36-20 victory over the Whites in the annual intrasquad-game finale to Husky spring practice yesterday.
Before a Husky Stadium crowd of between 15,000 and 20,000 fans, who took advantage of warm weather and free admission, Hobert picked up where he left off last season by completing 18 of 24 passes for 293 yards and one touchdown. He also netted 52 yards rushing, with 42 of them coming on a scramble.
Kralik, an oft-injured junior-to-be who caught a total of five passes for 50 yards and one touchdown in his first two seasons as a Husky, caught five for 123 yards and a touchdown yesterday.
That they all were thrown by Hobert was not surprising.
"We think the same," Kralik said. "And when we get on a roll, we're hard to stop."
They were particularly hard to stop as seniors at Puyallup High School in 1988, when they combined on 18 touchdown passes en route to becoming Huskies in 1989. Since then, however, their opportunities to further their football relationship have been few.
Hobert didn't play much until he became the starter on last year's unbeaten team. Kralik caught a touchdown pass from Hobert in the season-opener at Stanford, but later in that game suffered a broken hand and missed several weeks while Mario Bailey, Orlando McKay and Curtis Gaspard became the established receivers.
Fears about a pass-production drop were fueled by the fact Bailey, McKay and Gaspard consumed their eligibility last season. But Kralik and others have given notice that all is not bleak on the receiver front.
"Quite honestly, I don't think there's going to be that much of a dropoff," Hobert said.
Kralik said, "Everyone blew that out of proportion" in reference to reports of receiver problems.
Coach Don James said he was looking "to see the receivers step it up and I think they did. The last couple of weeks, the receivers started looking better."
James said tight ends Mark Bruener and Ernie Conwell both had good springs. Each caught two passes yesterday.
"He's a hard worker," James said. "He makes plays. He competes."
James singled out a reception in the second quarter. Kralik made the catch with cornerback Russell Hairston seemingly doing all he could to deflect the ball. But Kralik made the catch, then got upfield to complete a 32-yard play.
Moments later, Hobert and Kralik combined on an 18-yard touchdown pass that broke a 13-13 tie and gave the Purples the lead for good.
Based on production, Hobert had a decided advantage over Mark Brunell in the quarterback battle of Rose Bowl MVPs. Brunell completed just six of 16 passes for 46 yards for the White team.
However, it wasn't a fair comparison. Hobert was throwing against members of the second and third defensive units; Brunell had to face the No. 1 defenders.
"Billy had all day to throw, and Mark had no time," James said.
Jeff Woodruff, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, said both quarterbacks played well throughout spring practice. He said he liked Hobert's accuracy yesterday but not his time-buying scrambles behind the line of scrimmage. They could have resulted in lost yardage.
"We'd rather see him dump the ball off or throw an incompletion," Woodruff said.
"Did he call it `Billy-ball?' " Hobert asked. "I just do some real stupid things. But the offensive line did a good job. I just had forever."
Another Puyallup quarterback, freshman Damon Huard, introduced himself to the fans by completing his first pass to Terry Redmond - for 90 yards.
From the White 8-yard line, Huard lofted the ball across the field and over the defender to Redmond, who was all alone when he made the catch at about the White 30. He was knocked out of bounds on the Purple 2. From there, fullback Richard Thomas scored to create a 13-13 tie.
Beginning with Hobert's touchdown pass to Kralik, the Purples responded with three straight touchdowns to take a 33-13 halftime lead.
SPRING PRACTICE MOST IMPROVED
As selected by the coaches:
-- Defensive lineman - Danianke Smith, 6-2, 230, senior, Long Beach, Calif., strongside linebacker.
-- Linebacker - Dante Robinson, 6-3, 215, senior, Santa Barbara, Calif., weakside LB.
-- Defensive back - Josh Moore, 6-1, 190, sophomore, Torrance, Calif., left cornerback.
-- Offensive lineman - Andrew Peterson, 6-5, 290, sophomore, Port Orchard, guard.
-- Offensive back - Richard Thomas, 5-9, 205, Kent, fullback.
-- Receiver - Ernie Conwell, 6-3, 220, Kent, tight end.
-- Kicker - Travis Hanson, 6-0, 185, junior, Spokane, place-kicker.
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