Near shutout: Purple 3, Gold 0 in annual spring game
Seattle Times staff reporter
Just like the last time Tyrone Willingham stood on the sideline and the Washington football team was on the field, the Huskies scored three points.
Willingham, though, was hoping for a bit more offense out of UW yesterday than he was last September, when as coach at Notre Dame, he led the Irish to a 38-3 win over the Huskies.
Instead, in what was the first time many in the public got a look at a Willingham-coached UW team, the Huskies were almost shut out — by themselves.
Evan Knudson's 41-yard field goal with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter accounted for the only points of the day as the Huskies concluded spring drills with their annual Purple-Gold game. Knudson's field goal gave the Purple a 3-0 win in front of an estimated 5,000 at Husky Stadium.
Willingham shrugged off the lack of scoring, saying that if it were "a 49-48 game," everyone would be asking about the defense.
"You can't win in that situation," he said.
Offensive coordinator Tim Lappano, however, was clearly disappointed with an offense that didn't run a play inside the 20-yard line until there was 9:47 left in the game.
"We looked really slow and sluggish," he said. "We didn't play fast enough."
To be fair, the Huskies used a running 12-minute clock — the game took only 90 minutes in real time. The teams were also split up evenly, which likely hurt the offense — which is still attempting to learn a new system — more than the defense, which by keeping two assistants also maintained a lot of continuity in its philosophy. And the Huskies did little more than call basic running and passing plays.
"It went by fast," quarterback Isaiah Stanback said. "It was hard to get into a groove."
Stanback started for the Purple team and had a chance to get his team on the board on the second play of the game as tight end Jared Bronson broke wide open down the middle of the field on a flea-flicker. But in a play typical of the day, Stanback instead threw incomplete to Chris Rohrbach down the sideline.
"That was one of my mistakes," said Stanback, who was 4 of 6 passing for 49 yards.
But Stanback wasn't alone. None of the team's four quarterbacks did much — the lone scoring drive was begun by Stanback and finished by Carl Bonnell as the teams changed QBs at the end of every quarter.
"I didn't see anybody do anything out there today," Lappano said.
Willingham said he considers all four QBs still in the race. He added that it is likely the competition will be pared down before fall camp starts in August to begin preparing those QBs who are most likely to play.
Intriguingly, Lappano said he thinks there are just three QBs who are legitimate candidates to start but wouldn't say which one he is leaving out.
Undoubtedly, however, Stanback — thought to have a slight edge — and Johnny DuRocher remain in the race and it's unlikely the team has written off Bonnell, meaning Casey Paus — last year's primary starter — could be the odd man out.
The QBs were 18 of 34 passing for 205 yards with two interceptions — both by DuRocher, each coming at the end of halves in desperation situations. The longest pass play was 19 yards by Paus.
Lappano's biggest disappointment, however, was UW's running game. The Huskies rushed for just 42 yards on 34 carries overall, and got 82 yards on 21 carries from running backs.
The only running back who showed much spark was junior Shelton Sampson, who has seemed fairly invisible this spring with much of the attention going to the improved play of Louis Rankin. Sampson led all rushers with 29 yards on five carries, including a long of 14.
"To me, the most disappointing thing of the whole scrimmage was our inability to do what we've talked about doing, to be physical and bring back the two-back run game to the University of Washington," Lappano said.
As for the passing game, Lappano said again he thinks the team is somewhat limited at receiver in terms of having a speed guy who can stretch the field.
"We didn't get separation out there today," he said. "We need some playmakers at the receiver position."
Defensive coordinator Kent Baer, meanwhile, seemed cautiously optimistic about a defense that didn't come close to giving up a touchdown — the farthest penetration for the offense was the 15-yard line. The defense also had six potential starters sidelined because of injury or illness.
"We've made miles of progress, but we still have miles to go," Baer said. "I felt we needed to improve our run defense, and I think we made progress there."
Overall, Willingham called the spring a success, saying he felt the Huskies have begun to adapt not only to a new system but to his way of doing things. Of putting, as he says, team before self.
The goal now is for the Huskies to continue that work through the summer. Many close to the program have pinned much of the disappointment of the last few years on a lack of commitment by many players to stay in town and work out during the summer.
Willingham said he expects "90-99 percent" of the players to stay this summer.
• Lappano said he may experiment with using Sampson at slot receiver. He said Sampson's speed makes it imperative that the Huskies find a way to get him on the field.
• Mike Mapuolesega has switched from defensive end to tackle. Willingham called the move permanent.
• RB Johnie Kirton didn't get a carry, but he did play, catching a pass for 14 yards. Willingham said there wasn't a reason why Kirton, who has drawn praise in the spring, didn't get a carry.
• There were no injuries.
|UW's 2005 schedule|
|Sept. 3||Air Force*|
|Sept. 24||Notre Dame|
|Oct. 1||At UCLA|
|Oct. 15||At Oregon|
|Oct. 29||At Arizona State|
|Nov. 5||Oregon State|
|Nov. 12||At Arizona|
|Nov. 19||Washington State|
|* At Qwest Field|
Information in this article, originally published April 24, was corrected April 27. A previous version of this story contained an error. Wide receiver Craig Chambers started in the University of Washington spring football game. A Sunday article reviewing the game erroneously reported that he did not.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company