Dawgbytes - 4/13

Finally the crimson brigade has emerged, and the Red Cross can't do a thing about the walking wounded in Montlake this spring. More players were held out of Tuesday's football workout, just as the Huskies continue to move forward toward Saturday's second scrimmage.

"Manase (Hopoi) has a partially torn PCL (posterior cruciate ligament)," Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson said Tuesday when asked about the senior defensive lineman from Sacramento, California. Hopoi's MRI Monday showed the tear, which will not be surgically repaired. "It's the same kind of injury Quintin (Daniels) had last year. He'll be out for two-and-a-half weeks, so he's out for spring football."

Gilbertson expects Hopoi to be back to 100 percent by the beginning or middle of May. Manase joins a growing list of players that have been nicked and dinged during the first three weeks of spring. Dan Milsten (ankle), Ben Bandel (knee), Derrick Johnson (back spasms) and Dash Crutchley (hip pointer) all were held out of Tuesday's practice, making Jon Lyon Washington's only healthy tight end currently available. Milsten will not play on Saturday, While Gilbertson would like to see Bandel and Crutchley active for the Dawgs' second scrimmage.

Chris Singleton's foot has hampered his progress this spring, and Gilbertson isn't taking any chances with the junior running back from Fontana, California. "I'd like to see him get more work, get more reps because he hasn't played in a year," Gilbertson said of Singleton. "He didn't take any shots yesterday, but he'll get more work today."

While the battle at quarterback continues to be an open one, tailback is one position where Gilbertson sees a defined 'pecking order'. "Kenny (James) is your starter, then Shelton (Sampson), and then Louis (Rankin) is your third tailback," he said. "That doesn't mean Louis isn't going to see the football or see the field, because he'll do both."

Gilbertson likes the idea of having fresh backs in a rotation. "I think USC showed last year that you can play a bunch of different guys and they can all contribute and all do different things for you. And we don't have particularly big backs, guys that you're going to give the ball to 40 times a game."

With just a couple of weeks to go in spring football, there really hasn't been too many changes to the Huskies' depth chart, with the exception of players moving up to replace those in red. Donny Mateaki has moved from outside in to replace Hopoi, and Casey Tyler has also moved up in Milsten's absence. Jordan Reffett and Wilson Afoa are backing up Mateaki and Tyler.

Gilbertson wants Tyler, a redshirt frosh from Edmonds, to step up a little bit. "I haven't seen enough out of him yet, but he's still young," Gilbertson said. "I think he's capable of more, long term. I have high hopes for him because he's a big athlete."

Gilbertson envisioned Tyler as more of a big inside DL presence, as opposed to playing offense, from watching him at Edmonds-Woodway high school. "When I look for a guy with tight end skills, I look for guys more like Cesar Rayford," he said.

Outside, it's been Ty Eriks, Brandon Ala and Mike Mapu getting the majority of looks, and Gilbertson still isn't satisfied with the work shown by the defensive ends.

"We need more upfield speed," Gilbertson said. "We need more pass rushers. We need more pocket collapse from the outside. I just don't think that, in this league and with as many sophisticated passing offenses and particularly with the number of experienced quarterbacks coming back - we just can't pressure those guys all the time with blitz packages. We have to be able to get pressure from our front guys so that we can have those other guys go out and cover."

One thing Gilbertson has seen improvement in is the defense's abilty to tackle. "We still have a ways to go to get to where we want to be," he said. "But we are getting ourselves in better positions to make tackles, even when we are running at 'Thud tempo'.

"We've always had guys that really want to hit, but they didn't break down and get in a position to deliver the shot. Now we're in getting in a position to make that hit."

And usually when there's a bit hit, you'll see a big celebration. It's no surprise that Gilbertson, known for his no-nonsense approach, doesn't want his guys buying into what he calls 'fake boogie'.

"'Fake Boogie' is a lot of false bravado," Gilbertson said. "I don't think you have to be a loudmouth to be a good player. I want our guys to have a lot of enthusiasm, but I want it to be genuine enthusiasm, not manufactured."

Creating Inventory: Gilbertson remarked today that even though the Huskies are in their third week of camp that Tuesday's practice marked the first time the team worked on situational offense - meaning third-down, red-zone and goal-line offense. "We have a concept right now that we're not going to move on until we're ready to move on, but today was still going to be the first day we worked on these things and get them introduced before we get out of here next Saturday," Gilbertson said.

Goodrum update: Gilbertson said that there was no update on the academic status of Los Angeles (Calif.) Valley College's Rashaad Goodrum, who signed with UW back in February. Goodrum is expected to finish his academic requirements this spring and be available in the fall, but lately his future eligibility has come into question.

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