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Senior offensive lineman Ben Riva again suited up and participated in pregame warmup drills with the Huskies before kickoff against Stanford, but he did not play for the third straight game while nursing an apparent knee injury.
Riva is “definitely closer” to returning to the field, UW offensive line coach Chris Strausser said Wednesday.
“He practiced really last week for the first time,” Strausser said. “The biggest thing was he was not really in game shape, ready to play against Stanford, but I think physically he was the closest he’s been since the Eastern Washington game.
“It’s definitely frustrating for him. He’s a senior who’s started a lot of games around here. So for him to have to sit there and watch, I’m sure is very frustrating.”
Against Stanford’s top-ranked defense, redshirt freshman Coleman Shelton started in Riva’s place at right tackle for the fourth time this season. Shelton has generally graded out well this season, Strausser said, but struggled against Stanford’s front seven.
“He didn’t play his best game by any means against Stanford,” Strausser said. “So he had a chance to see what some of his weaknesses are against a really, really good player. I thought Stanford’s best player lined up against him all game long. So I think it was a good test for him. I think you (can) see it on film, and he knows what he’s got to get better at.”
UW left guard Dexter Charles praised Shelton’s tenacity and work ethic.
“That kid, he’s so tenacious and he wants to get better every day,” Charles said. “He’s excelling every day in practice. How ferocious that kid is — it doesn’t come naturally to everybody. He’s doing a great job.”
Strausser said senior left tackle Micah Hatchie graded out best against Stanford.
“We had a lot of guys who play some good football (against Stanford), but it wasn’t five guys at the same time. To be a championship-level offensive line, particularly against a defense like Stanford, we’ve got to have five guys doing their job. We can’t have one guy bust (an assignment) here or there.”
The UW offense managed just six points and 179 yards against Stanford, including a season-low 81 yards rushing on 38 carries.
“We’ve got to find a way to be better on first down, which (means) we’ve got to be better in the run game,” Strausser said. “We have some flashes, but we can’t have (just) flashes. If we’re going to do something with the type of offense we run, we’ve got to consistently run the ball better.”
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