Reffett Looks Forward To Football Practice
April 9, 2007
SEATTLE (AP) - Jordan Reffett looks at spring practice a littlelike payday.
Hours of winter conditioning -- done. Four months without hittinganyone -- finished. The next three weeks is time to cash in forWashington's senior defensive tackle.
'Guys have been working all winter long. Guys have goals, theywant to play, they want to start, they want to make big plays,'Reffett said. 'This is a chance to make big strides in theirperformance.'
The next three weeks had better be highly profitable for theHuskies, as perhaps the most challenging schedule in school historyawaits them come fall.
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Washington begins its spring practice on Monday, and while mostof the focus will be on freshman quarterback Jake Locker, theissues coach Tyrone Willingham faces in finally getting the Huskiesback to a bowl game go deeper than who takes snaps from center.
'The reality is I probably haven't equaled where I hoped wewould be. I thought we would be that bowl team by now,' Willinghamsaid. 'The reality of where we can go is still very much outthere. We can get to be a really, really good football teamagain.'
Washington finished the 2006 season 5-7, short of its goal ofreaching a bowl game -- an accomplishment that appeared plausibleafter a 4-1 start. But the Huskies closed 1-6, with narrow lossesat Southern California and California, and an inconceivable 20-3home setback to Stanford that ended any bowl hopes.
The Huskies were bolstered by their 35-32 win over WashingtonState in the Apple Cup that kept the Cougars bowl-less as well.
'It has the ability to kick you into gear for your offseason,'Willingham said. 'It put a good taste in our mouth.'
Willingham's main areas of concern this spring include replacinga pair of starters on both the offensive line and at linebacker,building depth in the secondary and hoping his two running backsdon't get run down.
Locker's move to the top of the depth chart at quarterback isn'tsimply because of offseason shoulder surgery to Carl Bonnell, theHuskies starter for the final five games last season. Willlinghamsaid other areas of Locker's growth showed him enough that if theseason started now, Locker would get the nod.
Teammates are excited by Locker's prospects, even if he's nevertaken a collegiate snap.
'I'm not worried about Jake Locker,' Reffett said. 'JakeLocker is the man in my eyes.'
But there won't be many bodies to for Locker or Bonnell to handthe ball off to this spring. Washington has just two tailbacks onits roster -- senior Louis Rankin and junior J.R. Hasty. Rankin ledWashington with 666 yards rushing and had four rushing touchdownslast year, while Hasty has yet to run the ball in college, hamperedfor one year by academic problems.
Help will arrive for the backfield when fall camp begins withfour incoming freshman.
'I never really practiced like this in high school. It's goingto be a lot of reps,' Rankin said.
Across the ball, the defensive line returns all four starters,and should play a significant role in helping decide who starts onthe offensive line.
'I think that needs to be solidified this spring, and I thinkthe defensive line plays a huge part in that,' Reffett said.'We're going to go out there and try to beat them every day.'
Behind the defensive line is another area of transition. Gone atlinebacker are Scott White and Tahj Bomar, with Dan Howell the onlystarter back. Half the secondary returns, but the Huskies lost twoof their most talented defensive players in safety C.J. Wallace andcornerback Dashon Goldson.
Washington concludes its three-week run with the annual springgame on April 28. After that begins the countdown to the Aug. 31opener at Syracuse.
From there, the schedule only gets tougher, with a home scheduleof Boise State (Sept. 8), Ohio State (Sept. 15), USC (Sept. 29),Oregon (Oct. 20), Arizona (Oct. 27), California (Nov. 17) andWashington State (Nov. 24).
'We were close to being a bowl team last year. Obviously we didnot make it, but our goal does not change,' Willingham said. 'Wehave to get to one and the time is now. There is no better timethan now.'
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