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Huskies' line a work in progress

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By Ryan Divish
The News Tribune
Published:
SEATTLE -- The Washington offensive line is still very much a work in progress. There are question marks, inexperience and injuries that have made the difficult process of finding a cohesive unit to protect quarterback Keith Price and ignite the ground game that much more difficult this fall camp.
Not surprisingly, offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto has kept his players away from the media and from answering questions that have no definitive answers.
But still, the state of the offensive line is something many Husky fans have serious concerns about heading into the season opener against San Diego State -- less than 20 days away.
However, Cozzetto decided to send a representative to speak for the offensive line. And who better to discuss that than center Drew Schaefer. The fifth-year senior is a two-year returning starter at center and growing into something of media presence with his own blog "The Left Hand Stance" on the CoachSark.com website.
"I did a summer internship with the football offices in the athletic department and we came up with this idea to have this inside perspective for the season," Schaefer said. "They thought I have a good personality and I have a communications background."
Schaefer's blog posts have included personal thoughts, videos featuring jokes of the day from teammates video and other things.
"It's a different perspective for the fans to see some of the stuff they wouldn't always see," he said.
It's kind of like the play of the offensive line. A lot of fans can't see what is really going on in the trenches or even know what is going right or wrong.
Schaefer believes the process is going as expected.
"I've been really pleased with the offensive line, from the point where we ended spring to the first week of camp, we've made a lot of strides," he said. "Obviously there's stuff we can work on, in terms of communication and playing together, I'm really happy with where we are at."
With junior guard Erik Kohler getting hurt on the first day of fall camp, and sophomore guard Colin Tanigawa still returning from offseason knee surgery and Senio Kelemete (graduated) and Colin Porter (retired) no longer around, Schaefer is surrounded by youth.
"When you look at the line right now, there's me a senior, and then redshirt freshman, redshirt sophomores, and most of those guys don't have much playing experience, this is a really crucial part for the offensive line to mold together," he said.
But he had nothing but praise for the young players.
"Especially the tackles, Micah Hatchie, and Ben Riva I think are doing a lot better with their sets, they're giving Keith a lot more time in the pocket," Schaefer said. "Dexter Charles, he's come a long ways and I expect him to play this year. Even some of the freshman, Shane Brostek, he came in and started off on a great note."
The plan was for Schaefer to see some reps at first-team left tackle with Kohler taking some snaps at center, but that changed when Kohler went down with the dislocated knee cap.
"It was an idea we kind of played around with a little bit, during the summer when we did our team workouts," Schaefer said. "I had been taking reps at left tackle and was kind of comfortable with it, nothing new. It was unfortunate what happened to Kohler and it was an easy transition back inside having played two years. I just wanted to be prepared for it, it was better to be comfortable with it before the season started rather than two weeks into camp."
But his fellow linemen have all been getting work at multiple positions for a reason -- to withstand injuries like Kohler's.
"The good thing is that we're all position flexible, you'll see guys playing left guard, left tackle, right tackle, move around a lot," he said. "The good thing is that all our guys know how to play each position."
Extra points
Like Nate Fellner, Taz Stevenson and Evan Zeger, Travis Feeney has made the move from safety to linebacker. The redshirt freshman was working with the No. 1 defense at the outside linebacker spot also played by the three other safety converts. With Fellner out for four weeks with a broke foot and Stevenson still recovering from a concussion, Feeney brings depth to the position. ... True freshman defensive end Pio Vatuvei got some work on offense, playing fullback in goal line situations. Vatuvei played fullback in high school. ... Linebacker Jamaal Kearse (thigh bruise), wide receiver James Johnson (foot injury), cornerback Marcus Peters (sore back) dressed out but were very limited in practice. Safeties Shaq Thompson and Justin Glenn, a Kamiak High School graduate, sat out the practice with mild concussions. ... Head coach Steve Sarkisian said that linebacker Thomas Tutogi's knee sprain is not as bad first feared and will return sooner than expected.
Story tags » Huskies Football

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