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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

May 8, 2009 at 11:18 PM

May answers, volume three

Kids in bed and the I-pod on shuffle (who put this Journey on here, anyway?) time to answer a few more questions.
Q: Where is Emeka Iweka? I think he signed two years ago, which means that, like Myles Wade, he should have finished JC and signed somewhere last fall. The kid had/has all the physical tools to have a long NFL career on the OL.
A: I get an Iweka question almost every time we do this as he remains a player of intrigue out there. But as I wrote in the last set of answers, it’s uncertain what his football future is at the moment.
For those who may have forgotten, Iweka is the lineman from Rainier Beach who signed with UW in 2007 then hurt his Achilles and also ran into academic problems (here’s some background on that).
He spent the last two seasons at Arizona Western College in Yuma. A spokesman there told me that he was dismissed from the team in November for unexplained disciplinary reasons — the spokesman said he remained in school but was said to have returned to Seattle early this year.
He hadn’t done much on the field last year and didn’t make a big contribution, according to the spokesman, and didn’t have any significant offers, the spokesman said. Not sure what his plans are but doesn’t sound like being a Husky ever again is in the works. (Shuffle, by the way, just unleashed some UFO, more than acceptable).
Q: Is the O-Line going to be better this year or are we doomed for another season of three-and-out futility?
A: Well, my stock answer on these kinds of questions is that every unit of the team will be better this year — how could any be worse? That may sound like something said for laughs, but given that the UW team last year was the worst in school history (in my eyes, much worse than the 2004 team and I saw every single game that team played, as well, and also worse than 1969 by any realistic measure) hard to see how there won’t be significant improvement everywhere.
As for the line, it has some more questions than some since it did lose three pretty good seniors in Juan Garica, Casey Bulyca and Jordan White-Frisbee. But Garcia, by his own admission, didn’t play near as well last season as he had as a junior, due in large part to the Lisfranc injury (it was probably folly of everyone to assume he could get over that as quickly as he tried to, though it’s undeniably courageous that he attempted it, and Tyrone Willingham probably could have helped matters there by being more up-front about that and not just making everyone assume Garcia was back to being as good as new). Bulyca, meanwhile, missed much of the year after suffering a knee injury and JWF also battled some pretty severe foot injuries all season. Point being, not sure any of those guys was ever really healthy and playing well.
Ryan Tolar also revealed in the spring that he played much of last season with a bad shoulder to go along with recovering from surgery on the other shoulder. That means four of the top six in the rotation were apparently dealing with some pretty serious medical issues all season (and meaning maybe Mike Denbrock didn’t have a whole lot to work with). With Tolar healthy, Ben Ossai now in his fourth year as a starter or significant player, and Cody Habben with a year under his belt, there should be a decent base to build around.
What’s scary is the right side of the line, which could consist of two starters who have never played a down of OL in their careers — tackle Drew Schaefer and guard Senio Kelemete. And UW ended the spring appearing to be confident in just six players to play with the first unit — the five just mentioned plus C Mykenna Ikehara.
That could mean three of the top six linemen are player who have never taken a snap on offense before. Not the ideal way to face a team like LSU in week one and USC in week three. I think there’s reason for hope — especially in 2010 when all but Ossai would be back — but I also think there’s some growing that ought to be expected. So to answer the question, they won’t be all three-and-outs like last year — a healthy and more experienced Jake Locker will also make the line look a lot better — but there will be some.
Q: Do you prefer to be addressed as “Bob,” or “Mr. Condotta”?
A: Either is fine and preferable to most things I get called on here. (And Girlschool a rather surprising but pleasant yield from the shuffle).
Q: What do you think are the most critical area, on offense and on defense, that needs to improve this fall. I think: Offense: WRs; Defense: CBs.
A: I think your defensive choice is right on. Good corner play is so important to good defense and at the moment, it’s hard to say UW has any proven answers there, as was evident when the depth chart released this week showed four players as potential starters at one CB spot.
But on offense, I think I’d disagree and go with the O-line for many of the reasons discussed above. They could be relying on some pretty unproven players to contribute significantly, and the O-line is just so important that until that unit is really settled it’s hard to really know what this team can do — I think most coaches would agree QB and OL are the two most important areas of an offense and that you can usually get away with a little more youth and inexperience and just unproven talent at RB and WR. (And “Broken” by Tears for Fears wraps it up.
All for now.



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