One critic of former UW Rick Neuheisel used to tell me that his practices looked like a pillow fight. That was an obvious reference to the lack of structure, hitting, and tackling going on during practice not to mention the rock music and Popsicle breaks. Teams eventually play like they practice and Rick's teams were on a downward spiral when he was fired. Rick actually recognized the problem and was about to correct it because he felt his team was beginning to lack toughness.
A good friend of mine who watches UW practices told me that if you think Neuheisel's practices were non physical you should see Willingham's. He felt the structure and organization was better but he questions if this team will ever learn to be physical and tackle well if they aren't allowed to do it in practice every day.
Ninety-nine percent of Ty Willingham's practices have been closed since he hit campus. The reason insiders say is because he does not want to be open for criticism about the way he does things. Truth be told the Huskies rarely tackle and scrimmage full bore at practice these days and it shows on Saturdays. It is hard to expect a team to tackle well if they don't do it in practice.
Don James and Jim Lambright had a completely different philosophy about practice. They used to scrimmage, and do a lot of hitting. You worry about injuries but it was the only way to get a team ready to play on Saturday. If you could survive practice with those two warriors surviving a game wasn't as much of a challenge.
Willingham takes more of an NFL approach to practice. If you have ever been to a Seahawk's practice you notice that it is more about teaching and preparation than it is about being physical. The health of the 53 man roster during an 18 week long season is paramount.
We all understand that Ty wants to keep his so called bullets healthy, but how can you expect these kids to light it up in games when they are not allowed to do it in practice? I think you need to accept the risk if you are going to build a solid college football team. You may have some disappointing injuries along the way but overall your program is going to win more games and be tougher.
How would Don James respond to last weeks Oregon game if he was in charge? It wouldn't be pretty. They would be scrimmaging all week till they got it right in addition to running gassers till they puked.
The top team on the West coast and arguably the best team in the country over the last ten years beats up on itself every day in practice. Most of those practices happen to be open to fans and media. Pete Carroll of USC has this crazy idea that if you don't practice what you are supposed to do Monday thru Friday you aren't going to do it on Saturday.
Like the Huskies of old the toughest team USC plays each week during the season is its second team. In Carroll’s seven years at USC, the Trojans have gone 76-14, been to six BCS bowl games, won two national championships and produced 30 All-American first-teamers.
Don't you think this guy might know what he is doing?