Will UW run a 3-4, or a 4-3 the majority of the time in 2008?
The reason we ask is Washington is pretty deep at LB, and very shallow on the defensive line. This Spring from what we could see the Huskies stuck with the 4-3, but that could change a bit if Taamu, and Noble arrive ready to play and become viable candidates at NT. Donatell seems open to running what ever works in the right situations. Look for him to be a breath of fresh air calling the game compared to the very predictable Coach Baer.
Washington has a lot of talent and experience at linebacker going into 2008. Unfortunately the best of the bunch, EJ Savannah may miss the first three games with a broken upper arm he suffered while supposedly arm wrestling. I am sure there is a lot more to the story, but I like the arm wrestling angle, it is very creative.
EJ started off the Spring sharing the doghouse with JR Hasty for missing some Winter workouts. when he returned to the field he showed why he was such a coveted recruit when he led the LB's in tackles during the Spring game. Look for the defense to kick it up a notch when EJ returns, but they could also be 0-3 when that happens. With EJ out look for Sr Chris Stevens, and So Matt Houston to split time at the position.
Don't count out walk ons Jonathan Gage, and Fred Wiggs, both of these kids will play a lot this year on special teams, and Gage was actually starting while EJ was running stairs.
So Mason Foster is going to be a very good player before he leaves. He saw the field immediately last year and worked himself into the starting rotation at the end of the year. Jr Donald Butler returns healthy this season, and when this kid is healthy he is a pretty good player. Backing him up, and playing besides him at times will be Trenton Tuiasosopo who is primed to have a pretty good year after getting back to full strength from a bicycle accident that nearly killed him.
SO Matt Houston, and RS Cort Dennison are going to see the field quite a bit this year along with walk on Jonathan Gage.
The Huskies add Bradley Roussel from Louisiana who had good film, and Kurt Mangum from Arizona who was practicing with the team this Spring.
OLB Savannah Jr
OLB Houston So
OLB Stevens Sr
OLB Wiggs* Jr
ILB Foster So
ILB Dennison Rs
ILB Roussel Fr
ILB Gage* Jr
MLB Butler Jr
MLB Tuiasosopo Sr
MLB Mangum Fr
Butler, Foster, Savannah, Tuiasosopo, and Stevens are pretty good building blocks for Ed Donatell to utilize in his first season at Washington. The Huskies have pretty good depth at LB, and it will allow UW to buy some time while a very young defensive line develops.
The injury to Savannah hurts because the kid has the potential to be a difference make when healthy. He will be back early in the season, but the lack of conditioning could be a factor due to loss of upper body strength.
Butler and Tuiasosopo are #1-A, and #1-B in the middle. We haven't seen what Butler is capable of yet, but we all have a good idea what Tui can do. Tui is great against the run, but struggles a bit in pass coverage.
Mason Foster will graduate as one of UW's greatest LB's. The kid has a lot of upside, and will continue to grow in 2008. He is very athletic, and can play sideline to sideline.
UW graduates two, and that means they will bring in two in 2008 unless someone gets moved here from another position.
Mangum is a big kid, but he needs to work on his speed from what we saw this Spring. Roussel is a kid that would have been a blue chip if he was a couple of inches taller. If he had those extra couple of inches he would be at LSU, not UW.