Dawgbytes - 11/12

It's commonplace to have some injuries this far into a football season. Football is one of the few sports where nearly every single player that starts is usually nursing some minor scrape or another. And if there's a team in college football this year that knows about injuries, it's the Washington Huskies.

And they haven't been your run-of-the-mill ACL tears and separated shoulders, although there have been those. Torn quads, broken feet, pinched nerves, concussions, hernias and fractured toes have appeared with nearly as much regularity as sprained ankles.

But don't tell that to Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson. He knows that the correlation between good teams and healthy teams isn't there by accident, but he won't let that be a crutch he can use to defend his team's latest woes.

"We've definitely had guys get injured in games, but a lot have been abnormal or accidental kinds of things," Gilbertson said Wednesday afternoon. "And injuries are huge for any team. With only 85 scholarships, staying healthy is a huge factor to having a good season.

"But regardless, we still have to play the game. We have to line up and go against whoever we're playing, so there's no reason to go down that road. We just have to line up with who we have and go, line up and go."

There appears to be more players ready to go than at this same time last week. Roc Alexander looks to be a go for Saturday's game at California, but since his last playing time was against UCLA he may not start. "We have to wait and see how much he'll play," Gilbertson said. "I'm not sure if he'll start. It's been a while since he played."

Kenny James and Brandon Ala are also a 'go' for Wednesday, leaving only Owen Biddle as the remaining question mark going down to Berkeley. Biddle suffered a pinched nerve against Arizona.

Rich Alexis was planning on doing some light jogging to test his quad Wednesday, the first time he's tested it since getting injured against Oregon State. The senior running back is determined to play against Washington State in the final game of the Huskies' regular season schedule.

The loss to Arizona has overshadowed some fine individual play over the past 10 games, and Gilbertson took time out to recoginze those guys that haven't received a ton of press but have been significant contributors.

On defense, he singled out Jerome Stevens, Derrick Johnson and Sam Cunningham. Offensively, Gilbertson mentioned the consistency of Nick Newton and Reggie Williams and the strong year that Zach Tuiasosopo quietly has had. He also talked about both freshmen running backs (Kenny James and Shelton Sampson), as well as Ben Bandel's contribution before his season-ending shoulder injury.

On special teams, Garth Erickson and Owen Biddle received mention for their efforts.

One player mentioned by Gilbertson as someone the coaches will be paying special attention to over the final stretch of games is redshirt frosh Dash Crutchley.

The tight end from California is in a battle with Jason Benn and Andy Heater for the spot behind starter Jon Lyon. Gilbertson likes Crutchley's athleticism and wants to see if he's got what it takes to get out on the field and contribute.

"Dash Crutchley is practicing very well," he said. "He can really run and catch the ball, but he hasn't had many opportunities. He's a guy we'll give a lot of attention to the next couple of weeks."

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