Dawgbytes - 9/15

The injury bug is starting to hit Montlake again. It was a big part of the Washington's 1-10 woes in 2004, and the news wasn't good Thursday. Two more starters - Chad Macklin and Roy Lewis - were announced out of Saturday's football game against the Idaho Vandals. And Macklin became a starter because of an injury to Joe Toledo.

"We keep shuffling," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said of the rash of banged up players and what that's done to his starting lineups. Macklin, a sophomore from Visalia, California, suffered a knee injury in the Huskies' 56-17 loss to Cal and it has not improved during this week of practice. "It reached a point where it was in the best interests of the young man and the team to sit him down," added Willingham, who also said he expected Macklin out 'a week or two'.

Because of Macklin's injury, Tui Alailefaleula moves to right tackle and Rob Meadow will make his second-straight start at left tackle. Nate Flowers will back up both tackle positions.

The injury to Lewis affects the Huskies in a different way. Not only do they lose one of their starting safeties, but they also lose one of their kick returners. Willingham said the San Jose State transfer was probably out for the Idaho game, 'unless something happens today'. Junior college transfer Josh Okoebor will get the start alongside Matt Fountaine, and it's looking more and more like Durrell Moss could also see his first action of 2005 backing up the corners. "There's a good chance of that, and we'll see at the end of the week how all the work comes out," Willingham said about Moss, a player that has played at three other positions during his UW career - safety, linebacker and fullback.

In more positive news, two other players that have been fighting the injury bug - Erick Lobos and C.J. Wallace - have the green light to play Saturday. A player that is stuck on yellow right now is running back Kenny James. James, a junior from Dos Palos, California, injured his shoulder during the first workout of fall camp and re-injured that same shoulder against Cal. "It's much the same as it has been all week. It may improve today, but I have yet to see that," said Willingham when asked about James. "It's very difficult to perform well if you aren't practicing, and practicing well."

Willingham has talked this week about how impressive the Idaho offense has been their first two weeks into the 2005 season, but he didn't want to reach game time without giving equal praise to UI Head Coach Nick Holt's true love - defense. "They play hard, they put a lot of pressure on you with the overall speed of their defense," Willingham said when asked for his initial reactions to having watched film of the Vandals. "They do the zone blitz scheme very well. That's part of their package, to really come after you and disguise it by playing the zone behind it. They do a lot of good things.

"Their linebacker corps have been impressive, not just one guy but their whole group. That's the group that just leaps out at you."

Tiger Ties: While the Huskies and Vandals do battle in Husky Stadium, there will be another college football game happening in Seattle. Grambling State takes on Washington State at Qwest Field. Willingham has a tie to Grambling State - he was honored with the 2000 Eddie Robinson Coach of Distinction Award. The award is presented to a college football coach nationwide for career achievement and his outstanding service as a role model to the community. Robinson retired from Grambling State in 1997 with an astounding 408 wins in 54 seasons coaching the Tigers.

"I was very fortunate as a 9th or 10th grader, I went to a camp (at the University of Virginia) where he spoke at," Willingham said Thursday, recounting the first time he came in contact with Robinson. "It was a very nice opportunity to see a living legend." Willingham also mentioned that he has talked with Robinson on a few occasions, but wouldn't divulge the nature of their conversations. "But you don't have to hear him talk to know how impressive he is as a person," Willingham said of the winningest coach in college football history.

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