Dawgbytes - 4/15

Thursday marked the two-thirds point for the Washington spring football campaign, and yet more offensive linemen will not be available for Saturday's second scrimmage, which is closed to the public.

Brad Vanneman, a 6-3, 300-pound junior center from Issaquah, suffered a high ankle sprain and will miss the rest of spring camp. And this afternoon, Juan Garcia suffered a leg injury during a 'thud tempo' scrimmage. It doesn't appear as if the freshman guard/center from Yakima will be able to go Saturday either.

"There will probably be more emphasis on third down," Gilbertson said Thursday when asked what the team will put their energies toward on Saturday. "We're going to spend some time on the short yardage stuff, coming off the goal-line - but it's hard to do when you don't have enough players to be able to do our traditional goal-line stuff. We'll go as long as we can go."

Vanneman and Garcia's injuries leave the Huskies with only 8 scholarshipped offensive linemen - including Tui Alailefaleula and Graham Lasee - and two centers, Clay Walker and Brandon Leyritz.

"With high ankle sprains, I don't expect any of the big guys to be back," Gilbertson said, alluding to the same injury that defensive tackle Dan Milsten suffered during UW's first scrimmage. "For those guys, it takes longer than three weeks to get back."

But with every nick and ding comes a silver lining. With Garcia seeing significant action this spring, he'll be available for backup duty in the fall. "If we can get Tusi (Sa'au) and Robin Meadow back, and with Stanley Daniels too we have a chance to be three-deep at center, which I like to be at all the time."

When looking back on the film of last Friday's scrimmage, Gilbertson noted that their success running the ball was partly due to a combination of factors. "Some of it was good offense and some of it was poor defense," he said, matter-of-factly. "That's usually the way it goes.

"But the running backs are doing a good job of breaking tackles and making people miss."

With the youth of the RB corps, Cornell Jackson has his work cut out for him getting his charges to play hard every snap with or without the ball. "Young backs, when you give them the ball they go like hell," Gilbertson said. "When they don't have the ball they tend to coast, and that's when there's run blocking and pass protection going on, which is every bit as important. With young backs, that's always the case."

Even though the receiver corps happen to be just as young, Gilbertson sees no such growing pains out wide. "They have all blocked very well," he said. "Ax (Steve Axman) has made a lot of progress with them this spring and they've had a good spring that way. They've done a good job."

Gilbertson singled out Charles Smith, Anthony Russo, Jordan Slye, Sonny Shackelford and Corey Williams as receivers to watch for.

Coaches Clinic Friday: Washington's coaches clinic will be held Friday. Mike Harrington (Hart) and Ron Ponciano (LA Valley College) will be coming in from California. Eric Kurle (Bethel) and Tom Bainter (Bothell) are the in-state coaches expected to speak at the clinic. The new UW coaches (Jimmy Lake, Chris Tormey and Charlie Dickey) will also have presentations during the clinic. "We will also do something with our strength and conditioning program, and we always do something with our training room staff too," Gilbertson said.

Junior Day set: The UW Junior Day will be on the same day as the Huskies' spring game, which is set for April 24th.

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