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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 30, 2007 at 11:53 AM

Coach speak, the linebackers

Here’s more of our conversation with UW defensive coordinator Kent Baer, today reviewing and previewing the linebacker position.
QUESTION: Can you discuss your linebackers a little bit?
BAER: We have a lot of depth there, just not a lot of experience. It’s a pretty good looking group of kids, but just not a lot of experience yet.
Obviously, Dan Howell (strongside linebacker) had a big year for us last year. In my mind, he might have been our most improved player from the year before. He really plays that position well and the things that we ask him to do, he does very well. He’s a great kid and very serious about what he does. I think he’s going to have a great year this year. He’s probably our leader in there.
E.J. Savannah is a tremendous talent and I think he’s gotten a little bigger and a little stronger. We used him a lot in our nickel and dime packages last year and now he’s going to have to play in all of our defenses. He’s probably going to be a starter in our base package (at inside linebacker, probably the weakside). He’s not the biggest guy in the world but he can run and he’s tough. He hadn’t been real healthy but he stayed pretty healthy through the season. He’s a guy who just has to learn what we are doing in the schemes. If he lacks anything, it’s just not totally understanding what we are doing. Those inside and outside linebackers probably have more learning to do than anyone else.
Donald Butler is a big guy who can run. Very physical. Just the kind of guy you want in our mike linebacker position (middle linebacker). He played a lot last year as a true freshman there which is tough to do at that position. If he continues to work hard and do the things I think he can do, he’s got a chance to be a good linebacker.
QUESTION: How about some of the others at that position?
BAER: Trenton Tuiasosopo (likely contending at MLB) is another guy who has been in this program a long time. Last spring when he came out for spring ball, he had put on some weight in the winter and I think he was thinking he needed to get bigger. I sat down with him and told him I think he got too heavy. He had a decent camp at times, but he just hasn’t had a lot of playing time. He’s another guy who’s spent a lot of time on his own studying in the off-season. We’ve just got to do a great job of getting guys on the field in the right situations.
Chris Stevens, there’s a guy who I kind of almost think of him as a defensive linemen at times, too, because he lines up at defensive end sometimes. He’s kind of our do-everything guy. He’s played two years for us already and he’s one of our better special teams players. He does as good a job running down field as a gunner as anyone in the league. Being an inside linebacker wasn’t very natural for him but he’s gotten better and better and better as time goes on.
Matt Houston was a true freshman a year ago who redshirted. He’s got a tremendous work ethic and a chance to be a very good linebacker. He just doesn’t know what we are doing yet. He’s probably going to be an outside linebacker.
Kyle Trew (backup at outside linebacker) played a lot against UCLA last year. He’s kind of had an up-and-down career but he’s done a good job this off-season, so there’s another guy that when you look at it, this is a good group.
Linus Chou (OLB) is a walk-on who had a lot of talent and has had a great off-season, gotten a lot faster. Joshua Gage (OLB) is another walk-on who’s done a good job.
We’ve just got to get all of them more reps and get them to a point where they feel comfortable doing what they are doing.
SPRING SCHEDULE SET: The school released the dates and times of all spring practices today. First practice is April 9, and the spring game is set for April 28 at 12:30 p.m.
The school also announced that five practices will be open to the media (but not the general public), plus the Spring Game (which is open to everybody). So six of 15 practices will be open. That’s up from two or three in past years.
Most notably, both of the Saturday practices prior to the Spring Game will be open. Those are typically days when the team scrimmages. The upshot is that there will be a little more media access to spring practice than in Tyrone Willingham’s first two years. Certainly on this site, that should pay off in a little more in-depth coverage of the proceedings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A few of you have sent in questions for me to ask Baer. I have already conducted all the interviews for these reports, but I’ll try to get your questions during spring practice.
HOPOI UPDATE: Here’s an interesting story on former Husky Manase Hopoi, now playing for Stockton in arenafootball2.

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