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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

March 24, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Spring practice halftime report — Offensive line

We’ll continue our look at how the position groups stand as UW takes a spring practice break with a review of the offensive line.

First, a depth chart based on what I’ve seen at practice (again, none of these are official UW depth charts):

LEFT TACKLE

Micah Hatchie, 6-5, 293, Jr.

Jake Eldrenkamp, 6-5, 292, RFr.

Ross Dolbec, 6-6, 300, So.

LEFT GUARD

Dexter Charles, 6-4, 292, So.

Jake Eldrenkamp, 6-5, 292, RFr.

Cory Fuavai, 6-3, 310, Fr.

CENTER

Mike Criste, 6-5, 295, Jr.

Siosifa Tufunga, 6-2, 307, So.

Taylor Hindy, 6-4, 295, RFr.

RIGHT GUARD

James Atoe, 6-6, 335, Jr.

Michael Kneip, 6-4, 299, RFr./OR

Shane Brostek, 6-4, 280, So.

RIGHT TACKLE

Ben Riva, 6-6, 302, Jr.

Nathan Dean, 6-5, 282, RFr.

INJUREDErik Kohler, 6-4, 299, Jr.; Colin Tanigawa, 6-3, 281, Jr.

OVERVIEW

As you can see above, three of the five starters are the same as the lineup that started against Boise State — Riva, Hatchie and Charles. Criste also started against BSU but at guard instead of center, where he has moved this spring to fill in for the departed Drew Schaefer. The one “new” starter is Atoe, who actually started six games last season.

So, in essence, UW can return a player who started at least six games last season at every spot on the line.

That experience and depth will only¬† increase when Kohler and Tanigawa return. Kohler has been in pads the last week but has not participated in team drills — that is expected to happen when UW returns to spring practice on April 2.

He has done some work at center in individual drills and is expected to get some work there when he returns to full duty. If he can handle it, that could become his permanent role for 2013, allowing Criste to go back to battling for the right guard spot or tackle, a spot he also played last season.

Tanigawa is expected to return in time for fall camp and will re-join the fray at guard (and possibly center). If/when he does, that will further increase the options for the Huskies, giving them seven players with significant previous starting experience battling for five spots. And maybe more important, it will allow UW to have a real rotation on the line, something that is an annual goal for OL coach Dan Cozzetto but something the Huskies have not often been able to really implement due to lack of experienced depth.

Sarkisian cited Riva as a player who has performed well so far when the he reviewed the first six practices of spring. As noted, the other four starting spots have also been the same throughout spring including left tackle, where Hatchie returns after starting every game there last season (Eldrenkamp has been a primary backup there but also has seen some time inside, the reason I’m listing him at both guard and tackle). Figure competition for spots throughout the line, though, to increase once Kohler returns (and in the fall when Tanigawa comes back).

The line had obvious struggles last season and will be one of the most scrutinized positions on the team in 2013. But given the number of players returning with significant experience, the goal will mostly be to get improved play out of those returning players rather than turning those spots over to the younger players. As will be the case at a number of spots on both sides of the ball, though, UW’s increased depth this year should allow it to have greater options should some players again struggle.

Comments | Topics: Offensive line

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