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April 5, 2013

When fatigue is a good sign




Thursday, the second practice back after the break, and the Washington football team looked a little tired.

"It was a bit slow," linebacker John Timu said. "A little fatigued on defense."

But that fatigue isn't all bad.

Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox thinks it's important for the players to feel fatigued while executing late in practice so they can be prepared for game day.

"We're not where we need to be, but it's good for us to feel that fatigue, and in not only your body, but your mind," Wilcox said. In those late drives and during those late games, "you can't bust. You've got to make that play."

Timu said it was hard to get back at it after having the break, but he also took it all in stride, shrugging as he said that although it's tough, it's also time to get going.

These first two practices back have been a lot of installation and trying to get the players back into the football mindset.

"Coming off spring break, we had two weeks off, so it was all stuff to get our mind right and get in shape," Timu said. "We just got to keep practicing and get better."

But don't get him wrong - the break was welcomed.

Like head coach Steve Sarkisian said on Tuesday, the two weeks off gave the guys a break to tend to any injuries they may have suffered during the first half of spring ball.

"It gave us a chance to work our kinks out, our bumps and bruises, just get healthy a little bit," Timu said. "But again, we got to stay in shape. We got to be tough."

Wilcox also welcomed the break because it gave them the chance to almost hit the reset button on spring practice after evaluating what they saw.

Wilcox said: "It kind of gives you two spring balls in a sense, where you get the initial six practices to get going and get a lot of things installed, setting the tone for what spring ball is going to be about, obviously get a lot of reps, and then take that window where they're in finals and spring break, and for us, it's a little bit of an evaluation of those six practices where we see ourselves schematically, fundamentally, personnel-wise, and make some adjustments."

Now that they're back, the players are having to make some adjustments of their own.

Although Wilcox said he thought they had pretty good focus and drive, they did have to shake some of the "rust" off.

"No matter what you do conditioning-wise over spring break and finals week, it's not the same as practice, so there was a reintroduction probably with the tempo and all of that. Today wasn't as quick as we would've liked it," Wilcox said.

That, Wilcox said, is something they'll talk about in meetings and fix on Saturday, which is when their next practice is scheduled.

As the Husky defense moves forward, they'll continue to play in a fast-paced setting. The fatigue, physicality and mental-aspect are all areas they'll need to push past.

"It's just part of the challenge in playing these up-tempo teams," Wilcox said. "It's the way they do it because it only takes one play, and you either miss-fit a run or you have a bust-coverage or whatever and that's a touchdown, and the more plays they run, the more opportunities they get to score points. So it stresses you physically, mentally, and that's important because that's what people do now, and for us to practice against it is really valuable for us."

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