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Olympia Practice Reports

The Huskies are practicing at Evergreen State College this week, from August 16 through August 21. Each practice session is described in the pushdown list below, the most current report pushing the others to the bottom. Scroll down to find a particular session that interests you.

Practice Report (Saturday, August 21)

After 5 straight days of hot sun, cloudy skies, with a threat of rain -- not altogether unwelcome -- greeted the Huskies for their morning workout. The afternoon session at TESC ended the same way the first practice began last year  -- with rain.

The Huskies had a light workout in the afternoon, closed up shop around 4:30, and prepared to hit the road for Seattle -- four busses waiting in the F parking lot.

Most of the real work was confined to the morning practice.

A vigorous 11-on-11 followed by a 2-minute-drive drill ended the morning practice session. Although the Huskies were dressed in shells for both the morning and afternoon workouts, they were hardly shells of their old selves considering yesterday's practice. The two drills consisted of 58 plays run from the line of scrimmage. 

During the 11-on-11's, QB Carl Bonnell ran a couple of nice sequences, starting them from the defense's 45-yard line. On his first series, after being sacked, he scooted for 10 yards up the middle and then ran for 10 more yards on the next play. He ended the drive by connecting with Corey Williams for a touchdown. 

Isaiah had some nice runs and threw several nice completions, one in particular to Craig Chambers, who made a leaping catch on the ball.

Casey got off a 15-yard run and passed 30 yards to Sonny Shackelford. He also connected with Jon Lyon for a TD. Lyon hurt a leg on one play but apparently managed to work it off on the sidelines. 

During the two-minute-drive drill, each quarterback had four downs to make a first down. Either a touchdown, a turnover or a 4-and-out ended his series. Not unexpectedly, Casey Paus won the two-minute-drill competition when he completed a pass to Corey Williams for a touchdown, that being the only touchdown of the drill.

With his quick release, Carl Bonnell seems to have an advantage over the other two quarterbacks in the two-minute drills, where getting the ball off quickly is a must. On one of his sequences, Bonnell led the offense to a first down before throwing an interception to Dashon Goldson.

Isaiah Stanback didn't look as sharp as the other two QBs in the drill. He threw a long pass to Steve Anderson that was knocked away by Clarence Simpson. On one series, he threw a short pass to Shelton Sampson who ran for a first down.

During the two drills (statistics: +/- 5% margin of error), Bonnell completed 8 out of 12 passes, ran 3 times for 22 yards and threw 2 TD passes. He was sacked twice and threw an interception. Paus went 6 for 9 passing, was sacked once, ran once for 15 yards and threw 2 TD passes. He was not intercepted. Stanback was 5 for 9 passing, was sacked once, ran once for 15 yards, threw 2 TD passes, and was not intercepted.

Most of the passes went for short gains, nothing real deep. Until we see a real scrimmage (tackling to the ground, QBs live), this all really doesn't mean too much..

From my notepad: 

-- Charles Frederick has a strained muscle, along with some bruising, at the top of his right foot.

-- James Sims had a 4.11 grade point average in high school. His current time in the 40 is 4.42, and he says he weighs 208 pounds, with decreasing body fat as he continues to workout. When asked if he plays chess with Joe Toledo, he said that Toledo plays computer chess.

-- Toledo, treated for back spasms in the morning, was good to go in the afternoon.

-- Performance in the two-minute drills being a discriminator, Paus added to his lead over Bonnell and Stanback yesterday. However, Bonnell came close to unseating Paus before throwing an interception. Clearly, Bonnell, a quick study, is improving on a day-by-day basis. Stanback's decision making is still a question in my mind. In an ideal world, Paus, with his experience, would quarterback the whole season; however, it's a whacky world we live in.  

-- When referring to the players' talent show on Friday night, Gilby says he can't be mimicked and no one had better try.

-- Sonny Shackelford spent some extra time with Steve Axman doing a reaction time drill. To start the drill, Shackelford stands with his back to Axman, about 10 yards away. At the same time Axman throws the ball, he yells "ball" and, as Sonny turns to face him, the ball is there, almost sitting on his chest, waiting to be clutched into his grasp -- or be mishandled.

-- Call beat writer Ted Miller, "Mr. Wordsmith." Speaking of nicknames, Ted was petting the Sweetman's bulldog yesterday, and Gilby teased him about being a Georgia Bulldog. Come to think of it, Fresno State is nicknamed the Bulldogs.

Practice Report (Friday, August 20)

"Third and goal; the ball on the five. Isaiah back to pass. ANDERSON, A ONE-HANDED GRAB. TOUCHDOWN, WASHINGTON!"

Or was it ruled out-of-bounds? (I didn't see any zebras there, so I'm calling it a touchdown).

Steve Anderson (5-foot-10, 195) out of Inglemoor High School, Kent Washington, brought Paul Skansi to mind as Coach Gilbertson talked about his walk-on during his press conference after practice. During the practice, Anderson caught every ball thrown his way and, in Gilbertson's mind, whether he has another Skansi or not depends upon the walk-on's speed.

If you're attending the practices tomorrow, keep an eye on number 31.

A cloudy bright sky greeted the Huskies during a walk-through that preceded the solo practice session today. After the various drills on fundamentals, the Huskies spent an hour or so, collectively, working on third-and-goals starting from the five (one play to make a score) and then on two-minute drives starting from their own 20. Each of the three quarterbacks rotated in the drills.

During the goal-line practice (11-on 11's, no tackling, quarterbacks in yellow), QB Isaiah Stanback passed for 3 touchdowns and had one fall incomplete. His touchdown passes went to Corey Williams, Joe Toledo, and the walk-on Anderson, who made a sensational, one-handed grab of the ball just before he left the end zone. Both Casey Paus and Carl Bonnell were 1 for 4. Bonnell was sacked once, had one ball tipped and threw incomplete to WR Craig Chambers -- CB Cody Ellis making a nice play on the ball. He then hit Chambers with a bullet for a score. Casey Paus was sacked twice, was intercepted by C. J. Wallace and hit Corey Williams in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Of the three contending quarterbacks, Casey Paus had the best of it in working the ball downfield during the two-minute drills. The offense had four downs to make ten yards and keep the drive alive. Gilbertson said that "Casey has years and years of doing that thing and understands it...It's the first time they've done it, so I'm not surprised that Casey did better than the other two."

"I think we got a lot done today. We did a lot of different things. A lot of runs and play action in practice. I was pleased," Gilbertson said after practice.  Gilbertson thinks that Bonnell and Stanback have "crept up and have improved a lot since spring."

From my notepad:

-- ILB Tim Gallaway has a sore shoulder and was held out today. WR Charles Frederick was on crutches and wore a boot on his sprained ankle. Gilbertson is surprised that Frederick is not back yet, noting that injuries have hampered his progress in the past. OL Jens Jellen wore red. WR Charles Smith practiced today, as did LB Joe Lobendahn.

-- The name Donny Moore (think, Bobby Moore) came up at the press conference, which brought back some memories to me, but is another story. Right, Gilby, I was the only one who remembered him, as he pointed out.

-- The fate of OL Casey Bulyca rests with the NCAA Clearing House, and is out of Gilbertson's hands, as he said.

-- Gilbertson thinks that WR Steve Anderson "has opened our eyes, and that all he does is get open and makes catches. He has been fun to watch. He's been a great surprise."

-- Jimmy Lake (cornerbacks coach) used the passing machine -- a weird looking device sitting on a tripod, with two whirling wheels that put a spiral on and give impetus to the ball -- to throw passes at the corners and safeties. They stand about 10 yards away from the machine and try to intercept passes starting from their right and left sides. Both Lake and OL coach Charlie Dickey are huge gets. The players really like them.

-- TE Joe Toledo, a gigantic weapon with soft hands, participated in the contact work and in the two drills at the end of practice.

-- Condotta says Anderson's catch was ruled out of bounds. I didn't see any zebras there.

--During the 7-on 7's,  Isaiah Stanback hit WR Quintin Daniels with a 25-yard bullet pass that had an Elway Cross written all over it. Stanback is the most gifted quarterback of the three, considering his size. It's his decision making that could be a question, although he says he is comfortable with the offense. He had to learn two positions last year.

-- Gilbertson said that defensive tackle Donny Mateaki continues to play better as his hamstring improves.

Practice Report (Thursday, August 19)

The morning overcast gave way to sunny skies about mid-morning. Dressed in shells (shoulder pads, helmets and shorts), the Dawgs spent time working on special teams in the morning. Kickoff returns, kickoff coverage, field goals, and punt drills all received some attention. Kicker Michael Braunstein continues to impress. Evan Knudson (kicker) is a gimme. SS C. J. Wallace and WR Sonny Shackelford looked good in the punt drills.

Although the defense dominated the offense in the eleven-on-elevens, FB Zach Tuiasosopo looked sharp, as did quarterback Casey Paus. Carl Bonnell and Isaiah Stanback showed off their athleticism with some nifty, shifty runs. OL Tui Alailefaleula (Tui A) missed a block, which drew the wrath of one of the coaches nearby. Under Gilbertson's watch, the sweaty, laboring Tui did some extra calisthenics at the end of practice. Talented, underachieving people are certain to draw Gilby's attention -- which might be the reason he chided the beat writers for their short questioning period yesterday. It lasted just over six minutes.

The Dawgs wore full pads for the afternoon practice, which was run under a hot sun. The heat index must have been close to 90 degrees. The first three periods were devoted to warm-up drills. A short, controlled scrimmage highlighted the afternoon practice, with plays run from 3-yard line on first and goal. The offense looked good and whooped it up after a score. For example, Paus threw a pass to James Sims for a score and Kenny James ran in for another.

WR Bobby Withorne is looking good. Playing against the likes of "Bam-Bam" Cunningham and Derrick Johnson, both senior corners, will make the receivers all that much better when they go up against the Bulldogs in a couple of weeks.

From my notepad:

-- More on yesterday's main event (the guys in the prelims did okay): Referee Khalif Barnes says he was afraid that OL Clay Walker would break a hand against Hopoi's helmet. He kind of fell into Walker as he separated him from Hopoi, which made it look like he'd tossed Walker to the ground more physically than he had. He told Walker to aim for the mid-section if he really -- and most unadvisedly -- felt the need to punch someone.

"Boys will be boys," as Gilby says.

Barnes says that the Dawgs will surprise people this season. I agree with him. In my opinion, the Huskies are a "game-breaker," a "War Daddy", and a power runner (ET, Duke, Tui/Kirton??) away from being a top 5 contender in the Pac-10. Those three variables can differentiate one conference team from another, the bottom feeders smitten with the common denominator called parity. Because of their togetherness and athleticism, the Huskies can be a better team than last year. Fans, this team deserves your undivided support, both at home and on the road.

Just an opinion and this is a best-case scenario: If the OL stays healthy and supports the QB with both a running game and solid pass blocking, there isn't any reason that Casey Paus can't quarterback the whole season, providing the team stays around the 50% win level or better. If Paus fails to get the support he needs and the team starts losing -- his numbers dropping off -- look for Carl Bonnell and Isaiah Stanback to take over, doing double duty at QB the rest of the way. Gilbertson will need their athleticism to win some games.

-- RB Johnie Kirton says that his best playing weight is at 250 pounds; otherwise, he says, he loses speed at a higher weight.

-- Carl Bonnell and Louis Rankin almost always win their heats during the gassers. Team captain Barnes usually ushers the linemen downfield.

-- Among the attendees were Reggie Williams' dad, Softy Softerson, Hugh Millen, Jim Lambright, Ryan Flemming, Herb Mead, and Jim Kenyon. Lambo looks well and fit. He says he goes back for testing on a regular basis. Fortunately, he has not needed any chemo after being operated upon for bladder cancer. His blanket parking permit at the U-Dub is one of his most cherished benefits.

-- OG Jens Jellen wore red. DT Donny Mateaki was back today. ILB Joe Lobendahn should return tomorrow. OL Jason Benn hurt his shoulder and will be out a few days. Derrick Bradley will have an MRI on his shoulder. WR Charles Frederick was on crutches and wearing a boot. TE Joe Toledo wore red in the morning and purple in the afternoon. Toledo mostly "sat" out the day, except for riding the stationary bicycle in the afternoon and throwing passes to simulate punts during the morning's punt drills. He's doing what the coaches said he would be doing, going into the practices.

-- Call Bob Condotta, "Mr. Accuracy."

Practice Report (Wednesday, August 18)

The Dawgs practiced in the afternoon today, in a single workout that began at 3:30 PM. It was sunny and warm to start the practice and clouded over about 4:30.

An intense scrimmage, a match up between the defense and offense, lasted 25 plays and concluded the practice, ending in a 4-4 tie (four stops, four scores). The drives started from 30 yards and in, some of them beginning inside the red zone.

I thought that Isaiah Stanback and Casey Paus looked particularly sharp during the scrimmage and the thud tempo that preceded it. Stanback is beginning to look like a Pac-10 quarterback, while Paus is already there. Michael Braunstein is showing a strong leg with good accuracy. The quarterback race is in a dead heat. For one or more of the contenders, it is a day-by-day thing.

A couple of fights broke out during the scrimmage. The most interesting fight occurred during the thud tempo drill when OL Clay Walker and DE Manase Hopoi had at it. To end the pier-six brawl, team captain Khalif Barnes threw Walker (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) to the ground -- as if Walker was a 98-pound weakling, which, of course, he is not. Before the bout, Barnes weighed in at 310 pounds. During the scrap, Walker threw 10 punches in rapid-fire order, none of them landing. I gave the fight to the referee, Barnes.

A soporific milieu today? Nah.

After the practice, Coach Gilbertson answered some questions. "A 4-4 tie; there was no winner, so everyone eats. I hate that. A couple of guys lost their composure. I know they want to do well...We went from second and goal at the two to third and goal at the seventeen. Dead ball, personal foul, loss of down, fifteen yards, and you are out of a drive. Little things like that cannot happen. That's a selfish act (this in reference to the time that Sonny Shackelford kicked the ball after missing a pass.) I thought the speed of it was very good. Nice and physical. I think James Sims was a real good back. Zach, too. I like how the backs ran...I thought it was aggressive, wild. I don't know if we had a clear cut winner (in the field goal competition). Michael (Braunstein) was the most consistent today. It was the first time they (the team) have been at it since the spring game. They have a zest for playing."

From my notepad:

-- Approximately 300 fans were in attendance. Among the attendees were Steve Douglas (father of Sean Douglas), Mr. and Mrs. Wallace (parents of C. J. Wallace), Sima Tuiasosopo (father of Trenton), AD Todd Turner, Jim Kenyon, Kim Grinolds, Coach Dick Baird, and Joe "Greyhound" Kaiser. Nattily dressed in suit and tie, former punter Ryan Flemming related some of his experiences as a Husky to Chris Fetters and me. Graduate assistant coach Pat Reddick wore some cool, wrap-around shades.

-- WR Charles Frederick suffered a slight ankle sprain and should be back this weekend. Derrick Bradley's surgically repaired shoulder has been bothering him. He took a pretty good shot on it, according to Gilby.  DT Donny Mateaki didn't participate in the practice, along with SS Chris Hemphill and WR Charles Smith.

-- OL Casey Bulyca is staying in shorts for awhile. He has five days of acclimatization before he can wear pads.

-- During the interview with Gilby. Condotta: "(Ted) Miller and I almost went at it." Miller: "A couple of little kids pushed us down, and that was the end of it."

-- So, who will win the QB derby? Will Gilbertson Paus and Stanback for Bonnell or will he Paus for Stanback or Stanback for Paus? I muttered to myself as I was sitting on the freeway near the Tacoma Dome on Sunday, gritting my teeth.

-- Soporific means sleep inducing and is a word that Ted Miller used during a lull in one of the practices, which for the most part have been quite lively. 

Tidbits and notions:

The practices are broken into periods that average 5 minutes in duration. During a period, various units of the team work on fundamentals, which, depending on specialty, may include tip drills, pass routes, kicking, footwork, leveraging and so on. A horn sounds to end a period and, at that time, units run off to another part of the field, to a spot where a particular session has been scripted. Usually, a thud tempo (no tackling to the ground) or an eleven-on-eleven concludes the practice session. The offense wears purple, and the defense and kickers wear white. Players who are injured and who can't participate fully wear red jerseys. The quarterbacks (untouchables) wear yellow.

Showing more intensity and cohesiveness as a team, the players seem in better spirits than they were last year at this time. From a coaching standpoint, there is less of a boot-camp mentality, although focus and intensity are not lacking. Thus far, there have been fewer bear crawls meted out during practice.

Overall, Coach Keith Gilbertson is in a better mood and more at ease than he was at Olympia last year. During an interview, the wily Gilby will play the contrarian at times, depending on the way a question is phrased. And you had better be precise with your questioning. One reporter asked him how Tui was doing. "Which Tui? Gilbertson asked, "we have like eight of them."

"The biggest one -- Zach," the reporter replied.

"No, Zach isn't the biggest Tui; we have one who is about 100 pounds bigger than him."

Practice Report (Tuesday, August 17)

Showing a great deal of spirit and enthusiasm, UW players worked out for two hours in the morning, wearing helmets, shoulder pads and shorts (i.e., shells).

To highlight the morning practice, TB Kenny James broke off a long TD run during 11 on 11's, and, coming off a desultory practice yesterday, QB Casey Paus connected with WR Sonny Shackelford for a 70-yard TD. 

The players wore full pads in an afternoon session that lasted about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

In the thud tempo drill that concluded the practice, the defense had a 7-to-5 successful-stop-to-completion ratio on third and fives. Gilby was not altogether happy with the passing game and said that the "defense clearly won at the end in that type of competition (thud tempo)."

He said that OL Tui Alailefaleula has plenty of potential but the light has yet to come on for him. "He is not taking advantage of some opportunities to improve." A reshirt year seems out of the question for him because the OL is thin in number.

Gilbertson says that there is still a three-horse race at quarterback, although Casey Paus had the early lead.

Gilbertson noted that true freshman Darin Harris might be the fourth safety when Chris Hemphill is back. Also, Harris might see special teams play.

In my opinion, neither the running game nor the passing game is where it was last year at this time. The Dawgs are lacking a punishing running back and need someone like Johnie Kirton (freshman, 6-foot-3, 278) to step to the fore and compliment FB Zach Tuiasosopo (6-foot-2, 250) in, what some might call, a "Kirton-call" backfield.

From my notepad:

-- Although Coach Gilbertson is rolling players in and out of the OL, looking for the best combination, the unit consisting of Khalif Barnes (WT), Tui Alailefaleula (WG), Brad Vanneman (center), Stanley Daniels (SG) and Ryan Brooks (ST) is dominating most of the playing time with the ones. Chad Macklin (WT), Jason Benn (WG), Brandon Leywitz (C), Tusi Sa'au (SG), and Rob Meadow (ST) worked as a unit.

OL coach Charles Dickey is working his linemen hard, that combined with a certain vocal importuning, and, in that spirit, yelled at Tui Alailefaleula and Nathan Flowers a couple of times. "Keep your feet flat; stay off your toes."

Out of Edmonds-Woodway, OL Matt Olson (6-4, 250) is the newest walk-on.

-- Although OL Casey Bulyca has been cleared to practice with the team, his case is still under review by the NCAA clearing house.

-- SS Chris Hemphill has a sprain where the cartilage and the sternum meet. DL Donny Mateaki and OL Clay Walker will be back tomorrow, having overcome hamstring injuries. FB Zach Tuiasosopo has a hamstring injury, and WR Charles Smith, still nursing a hammy, will be out for two more days.

-- Craig Chambers continues to impress in the wide-receiver drills (e.g., 18-yard curl routes); however, in the 11 on 11's, he muffed a pass that was intercepted by C. J. Wallace.

-- Sam Cunningham is appropriately nicknamed "bam-bam." 

-- If the three quarterbacks were on the PGA tour, Casey Paus might be Vijay Singh, as he is the biggest and steadiest of the three. With his strength and (swing) speed, Isaiah Stanback could easily emulate Tiger Woods; and lastly, equate Carl Bonnell with Fred Couples for his timing, tempo, and rhythm.

--  Special teams certainly are not being neglected. The Dawgs worked on kickoff coverage, kickoffs and punt drills in the morning. Walkon Michael Book connected on a 40-yard field goal but missed one from 45 yards out. Speaking of nicknames, kicker Evan Knudson is "Mr. Automatic."

Practice report (Monday, August 16)

On a partly cloudy day at Evergreen State College, the Huskies participated in a solo practice, which began at 3:30 in the afternoon.

The practice lasted 2 hours and 10 minutes -- but fell off in intensity during the last 20 minutes, according to Coach Keith Gilbertson. A breeze freshened near the end of practice, but it was warm and sunny for the most part. The Huskies were in pads today and will wear them in the afternoon session tomorrow. (Practices are at 9 AM and 3:15 PM tomorrow). 

Gilbertson said that Isaiah Stanback had his best day at QB thus far and noted that Carl Bonnell had a good day. In my opinion, Bonnell excelled in the footwork drills, played well during the option drills and threw the ball with good velocity and accuracy. QB Casey Paus had an off day -- "as smart and sharp as he is" -- Gilbertson said after practice. He noted that Paus usually comes back the next day after having an off-day.

To start the practice, running with the ones, Khalif Barnes was at WT, Tui Alailefaleula was at WG, Brad Vanneman was at center, Stanley Daniels was at SG and Ryan Brooks was at ST. During the rest of practice, Tusi Sa'au (guard), Rob Meadow (tackle), and Brandon Leyritz (center) rotated with the ones. Gilbertson is still "rolling" his players, looking for the best combination of talent -- a first five. 

At least eight players wore red today. SS Chris Hemphill stayed in Seattle  because of chest pains. The doctors ran a battery of tests yesterday and today and could find nothing wrong.

The Huskies spent some time on special teams play, working on punt and field-goal drills. At one point, I noticed Keith Gilbertson, stop watch in hand, timing the hang time of Sean Douglas' punts.

From my notepad:

-- Tackle Khalif Barnes clobbered DE Manase Hopoi, who was somewhat off balance, with a vicious block on one play, knocking him to the ground.

-- One brief fight broke out, presumably between LB Scott White and tackle Ryan Brooks.

-- Walkon Michael Book (former soccer player) kicked a 40-yard field goal and won the wind-sprint near the end of practice.

-- Sean Douglas was getting good hang time on his punts and seems as consistent as he ever has been.

-- Defensive end Graham Lasee, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior, and Erik Berglund, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound redshirt freshman offensive lineman, have left the team for undisclosed reasons. DT Casey Tyler left the team today. Coach Dick Baird noted that the Huskies have had an unprecedented amount of attrition over the past five years.

-- Defensive tackle Donny Mateaki, offensive guard Clay Walker and receiver Charles Smith are recovering from hamstring injuries and didn't practice today. They most likely will practice the day after tomorrow.

-- In response to a question by Ted Miller, Gilbertson noted that FB Zach Tuiasosopo -- an upfront guy -- is vocal on field and hardly mellow off field.

-- No word has been heard from the NCAA clearing house yet with respect to two incoming freshmen waiting clearance.

-- David Dawg, Joe Kaiser and Coach Dick Baird were in attendance.

-- Nit: Mike Mapuolesega's (a.k.a., Mike Mapu) name was spelled incorrectly on his jersey at Picture day, with a "c" in the penultimate position instead of a "g." Okay, so it bothered me.

-- On the subject of mellowing with age, one beat writer noted a kinder and gentler version of Ted Miller (Seattle P-I) since his marriage.

-- Gilbertson said there is not a lot of distractions at Evergreen. "If you leave campus, you have a heck of a way to walk to get to a green light."

Picture Day (Saturday, August 14)

On Picture Day (August 14), I asked head coach Keith Gilbertson if he had recruited his freshmen from the 49ers? “I can’t believe the size of Jordan White-Frisbee,” I said, with wonderment in my voice.

“Oh, he’s not the only one. Did you see Greyson Gunheim,” he said, with a fatherly look on his face, his eyes wide open, his face beaming with pride? “And I have a 278-pound tailback, Johnie Kirton. (Photo left). He may lose a little weight."

Oh, yes, Gilby, count those big-uns and plan for the future.

Gilbertson is from the old school. He believes in the three S’s. He thinks football is won with size, speed and strength, you know: e = mc2. Throw in some dedication, heart, luck and good coaching and, in Gilbertson’s mind, you have the correct formula for success.

With the season about to start and with practices underway, Gilby couldn’t be more effervescent. Coming from the Cradle of Coaches (Snohomish County) and being the son of a football coach, Gilbertson was born to coach the UW. His enthusiasm speaks volumes for his love of the job.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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