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Originally published Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Notebook | TE Kavario Middleton shines in his college debut

It was a typically raucous Autzen Stadium crowd Saturday, one that Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said was so loud he had...

Seattle Times staff reporter

UW notebook |

It was a typically raucous Autzen Stadium crowd Saturday, one that Washington offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said was so loud he had trouble hearing anything through his headset.

The type of setting that can disarm even the most veteran of college-football players.

And one that UW freshman tight end Kavario Middleton apparently thought was as unsettling as a Sunday picnic.

"The stage didn't overwhelm him," said tight-ends coach Brian White.

That calm demeanor helped Middleton turn in the best night of the eight true freshmen who saw action, catching four passes for 35 yards.

"He played very well and he was communicating well," White said. "It's nice to see."

Indeed, Middleton, a Lakes High School graduate, gave ample evidence that he will live up to the hype after he was generally considered the best prospect in the state last season.

Middleton, who is 6 feet 5, 255 pounds, said he was just doing what comes naturally.

"Ever since I've been growing up, everywhere I've played, I've always had that mentality to do the best I can do," he said. "Be the kind of guy you can lean on. If they want to do that, then I'm ready for it."

While his receiving looked polished, Middleton said his blocking still is a work in progress, saying "I need to be more physical."

He'll get help in that department this week with the expected return of senior tight end Michael Gottlieb, whose absence due to a hamstring injury opened up the starting role for Middleton against the Ducks.

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Huskies going through the motions?

Freshman tailback Chris Polk said the biggest thing the Huskies need to do to improve is "work harder and not go through the motions as much as we used to."

Pressed on whether he really thinks the team goes through the motions, Polk said "Not every play, but I think at times we weren't going 100 percent. We've got to stop that and start giving 110 percent every play."

Polk was held to 19 yards on 14 carries and said that while there were times there was nowhere to go, "I would say more than half of them I messed up. There were holes but I wasn't being patient. I guess rookie mistakes. There were holes, I just missed them."

Notes

• Freshman Johri Fogerson of O'Dea High School appeared to be working with the defensive backs in Tuesday's practice. The state player of the year had been playing running back, but he was also a safety last season for the Irish.

• BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said Cougars quarterback Max Hall is 100 percent. Hall was reported to have suffered concussion-like symptoms in BYU's 41-17 win over Northern Iowa. But Hall said Mendenhall wasn't diagnosed with any and will have no limitations this week.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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