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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

August 4, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Position preview — offensive line

We’ll continue our look at UW’s position groupings heading into fall camp by focusing in this entry on the offensive line.
Starter — Cody Habben Jr.
Backup — Mark Armelin, So.
Starter — Ben Ossai, Sr., or Ryan Tolar, Jr.
Starter — Ryan Tolar, Jr., or Mykenna Ikehara, RFR.
Starter — Senio Kelemete, So.
Backup — Morgan Rosborough, Sr.
Starter — Drew Schaefer, RFR.
Backup — Skyler Fancher, So.
BIGGEST QUESTION? Or should it be questions? Lots of issues with this group, but maybe we can narrow it to two — will some of the more experienced players such as Ossai and Tolar have breakout years to mitigate youth elsewhere and lift this group to the needed productivity? And can some of the youngsters emerge to provide the depth that is so sorely needed?
As you look at the depth chart above, you see nine names. But if the Huskies played today, they might be comfortable using just six — the five starters plus Ikehara. OL coach Dan Cozzetto says that ideally, he’d like to have a 7-8-man rotation, able to rotate in players at each spot as needed. So developing that depth will be a key in fall camp.
As for the front-line players, Tolar, Ossai and Habben all have substantial starting experience, having combined for 66 career starts — Ossai 32, Tolar 19 and Habben 15.
It was well-documented in the spring that the line lost an estimated 200 pounds across the board, and that improved conditioning (as well as better health) could help each of those three players make a substantial jump in performance. If so, they could form a left side of the line that potentially could/should be pretty good (assuming a Habben, Ossai, Tolar tackle-guard-center tandem).
But the right side is obviously more problematic with Kelemete and Schaefer each either new players or new to the offensive line. How well those two make that adjustment will also go a long way toward determining how good this line can be this season.
COMFORT LEVEL 7. And even that may be too high. This is a hard group to judge. Ossai, Tolar and Habben all have a lot of experience and reason to think they could be pretty good players. But everybody else is unproven, and the depth issue is hard to ignore. Injuries are basically a given in college football and while it happens occassionally that a line makes it through a season intact (UW essentially did in 2006 when the same five players started every game except for one start missed for disciplinary reasons) you’re safer to prepare and assume they won’t.
Fancher could be a key. He appeared to be emerging as the next man in the rotation before being hurt in the spring. But despite having recently been able to run down a purse snatcher, his availability for the start of camp is uncertain. And it sounds iffy, at best, that JC transfer Daniel Mafoe will make it in for the start of camp, if ever. Cozzetto is a veteran coach whose track record suggests that when he has the talent, he can make it work. But other than QB, this may be the one area of the team that can least afford injuries during camp.



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