Mike Denbrock has done a super job rebuilding the offensive line during his tenure at Washington. Experienced depth which was a mess when Willingham arrived is now getting close to where it needs to be. Of all the positions on a football team the one that takes the longest to rebuild is the offensive line. Players rarely come ready to contribute right away at this position, they usually need a year, or two in the weight room before they are able to play.
For UW it all starts off in the middle where sixth year senior Juan Garcia returns for another year to anchor the offensive line. Garcia played well last season, but the one thing he needs to improve on is his long snapping. Jake Locker was like a center fielder back there last season trying to corral in his snaps which tend to be too low. That of course alters the rhythm of the offense. Behind him is Matt Sedillo who is a very competent backup, and designated heir to the position. Doug Christine who walked on to the program is also in the mix and provides quality depth.
Ryan Tolar, and Casey Bulyca were very consistent as the starting guards last season. They are backed up by Jordan White-Frisbee who gained enough confidence from the coaches to be a co-starter during the second half of the season. Morgan Rosborough was buried in the depth last year, and could be passed up by Scott Shugert who was the most impressive frosh lineman in 2007. Tolar and Shugert are roadgraders with good futures.
On the outside at tackle the Huskies lose Chad Macklin to graduation, but return Cody Habben, and Ben Ossai who were both co starters last season. Mark Armelin, and Scott Fancher who red shirted last season will be the primary backups. Denbrock likes his players to be able to play any position on the line, so if injuries happen at tackle one of the more experienced linemen inside may move outside to plug the hole.
On the recruiting front the Huskies already have secured the commitments of two very talented tackles in Terrance Thomas, and Drew Schaeffer. Thomas is very athletic for his size, and Schaeffer in most years would have been the top OL recruit in the state. Mykena Ikehara from Hawaii will start out at either guard, or center. The Huskies still have one more spot to fill. Allen Carroll from Oakland is the leading candidate for that spot so far, but the Huskies also have a couple of backup in mind if he goes elsewhere.
This unit kept improving all season, and with four of the five starters returning, plus adequate depth, it could be one of the better units in the conference in 2008. It all starts with conditioning, and off season work. The Husky coaches were disappointed in the conditioning during the last off season as a few players missed their off season goals. Hopefully we will see improvement in that area in 2008. Depth at tackle is really young going into the Spring. It will be interesting to see if Fancher or Armelin move into the rotation, or if they designate one of the guards such as White-Frisbee to do back up over there.
I for one would like to see more offensive linemen on the roster. It seems since scholarship limits went down to 85 UW has had an average of 15 OL on scholarship which translates to three deep. I would be more comfortable seeing that number around 17-18.
Next : The Defensive Line