Huskies stay up front with new linemen
A week into fall camp and the new-look offensive line for the Washington Huskies is holding steady. Whether it will continue come the first...
Seattle Times staff reporter
A week into fall camp and the new-look offensive line for the Washington Huskies is holding steady.
Whether it will continue come the first game at Syracuse on Aug. 31 is another matter.
But suddenly, the idea that the three redshirt freshmen who ascended to the No. 1 unit at the beginning of camp could actually start when the Huskies open the season doesn't seem so outlandish.
"I think you could see two or three of those guys starting," said center Juan Garcia. "They are young, but they've got a lot of heart. I don't care how young you are — if you've got that heart, that's what counts."
Garcia is one of three returning starters from last year's line along with senior right tackle Chad Macklin and sophomore left tackle Ben Ossai. When spring ball ended, those three were in the first unit along with sophomore left guard Morgan Rosborough and junior right guard Casey Bulyca.
But when fall camp began last week, Ossai, Rosborough and Bulyca were with the second unit. In their place were redshirt freshmen Cody Habben (for Ossai), Matt Sedillo (right guard) and Ryan Tolar (left guard).
The initial reason for the change was that the three veterans didn't meet required weights entering camp. Bulyca, for instance, acknowledged Monday that the coaches wanted him at 340. He came in a little above that, weighing in at 345 this week.
"I didn't live up to my end of the bargain so that's where it was," said Bulyca, a junior who played sparingly a year ago.
Habben, Sedillo and Tolar, meanwhile, were apparently among the team's workout warriors this summer, impressing coaches, and some of the vets, with their conditioning work.
"It was amazing," said Garcia. "As an older guy, I was trying to keep up with them and it was like, 'Oh man.' "
Sedillo was one of several players who added some occasional boxing to their summer workouts (Garcia was another) while Habben said a lot of the members of the freshman class rented a house for the summer, helping the group bond.
"We just worked out and hung out and were around each other all the time," said Habben, a graduate of Skyline High. "It was fun."
Still, none of them expected to be starters on the first day of camp, Habben admitting he was "really surprised" when he found out.
But given the chance to make an impression, he apparently has, as have Tolar and Sedillo.
"The young guys have gotten better because we have put them in a situation where they have a chance to be a starter," said Huskies offensive coordinator Tim Lappano.
Lappano said that Habben, for instance, "moves better than I thought he would. He runs pretty well and is light on his feet and pretty athletic."
Tolar, a Pasco High grad, and Sedillo, a native of Escondido, Calif., have also had their moments.
The three demoted veterans, meanwhile, have apparently responded the way the coaches hoped, with Lappano saying they all "have picked it up a little bit." Bulyca, in particular, has had some good days of late, Lappano said.
"I think it's been healthy," Lappano said. "That competition is what you want."
The upshot is that the Huskies are likely to have a deeper line this season than last year, when the five starters took almost every snap of the season — Garcia, Macklin and the graduated Stanley Daniels (left guard) actually did play every snap of 2006.
"I can see seven guys playing [regularly] this year," Lappano said.
Still, the Huskies would like to pick a starting five, which Lappano says could happen by this time next week.
"I think we have one more week to play around with it and then we are going to have to get our best five out there," Lappano said.
And if that best five includes three redshirt freshmen (all technically listed as sophomores with the school now classifying players by their academic standing), then so be it.
Asked if he'd be ready to start against Syracuse if needed, Sedillo said, "Oh yeah, no choice."
Garcia said he's ready to go to battle with the new kids.
"I was talking to them the other day and told them, 'If I'm going into the season, I don't care if it's with you guys because I like what you have been showing me the whole time.' "
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 10:18 PM
Washington State's Klay Thompson will play Thursday against Huskies