Communication, competition key for Tormey

It wasn't necessarily the lack of communication between coach and player that inevitably led Washington senior linebacker Scott White to consider leaving the Huskies, but his return pinpoints the needs for a strong bond between the two. And it all starts with communication.

"The word communication is so important every place," Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham said Friday when asked about the talking lines between White and the coaches and what got lost in translation. "Go by volleyball practice. What leaps out at you is their ability to communicate. It is constant, it is consistent. That allows them to position themselves and always know where their teammate is at. And that's something we have to have. When you have that kind of communication, then you are not surprised by a 'backer coming off the corner. That tackle recognizes it, he makes the right call, the guard hears the call and he's in the right position...everything flows."

Washington's linebackers coach, Chris Tormey, echoed the head coach's thoughts, especially in regards to the position that he teaches. "Communication is going to be critical. We have to recognize formations and make adjustments and get lined up. We don't know who we are starting right now. There are no positions that are guaranteed. We've got 16 days to evaluate this thing before we have to make any final decisions about who is going to start in that first game. It changes daily. They are all in competition and they know that. We're going to evaluate their performance daily and make adjustments accordingly.

"I know one thing for sure - we're going to open up on September 2nd, and we're going to have three starting linebackers on the field, so I know it's going to sort itself out between now and then. And whoever starts the first game doesn't mean they'll start the last game. That can change week to week based on performance."

That kind of mindset is going to help White - whose original reason for possible departure from the program stemmed from being demoted to the No. 2 SAM position - in an attempt to earn back his spot from Daniel Howell. "He's back," Tormey said of White. "I'm happy to have him back and I think he can help our football team. He's just going to have to work hard every day. When he gets his opportunities he'll have to make his plays - and if he does that he'll get his share of playing time."

But don't expect the junior from Newhall, Calif. to be in a forgiving mood. He's won gold jerseys the first three days they have ever been handed out, the only player on the team to earn such a distinction.

"He's just worked really hard," Tormey said of Howell. "He's been real consistent in his work ethic, his toughness and his effort on the field. And he's gotten a lot better mentally. He's a very good athlete. He's been impressive on defense and on special teams. He's in great physical condition, so he goes hard on every single play. That's hard to do, as many snaps as you get on defense and then you get all those reps on special teams. To go full speed every time? That's hard to do."

But White has one thing Howell doesn't, and he has it in spades - experience. In his three years at Washington since redshirting in 2002, White has played in 33 games and started 20 of them. Howell? He's played in 20 games in two seasons, but only one start - against Washington State in 2004.

So the question remains - will White parlay his experience into a starting role? "Anytime you have game experience, it helps you," Tormey said. "But we're going to evaluate 'em based on what they do in practice and in scrimmages. We're going to try and go with the best guys, and there may be a situation where we play more than one player at a given position. If we've got two that are close, both will play."

And by that reasoning, will it help Tahj Bomar and Chris Stevens gain a critical edge over Trenton Tuiasosopo and E.J. Savannah? "If it doesn't, that's a major mistake," Willingham added. "If you can't use experience to your advantage, why have experience? He (Bomar) is using that, it's been good for him and hopefully allows him to have more confidence and grow as a player."

The linebacking corps is definitely young, but Tormey sees nothing but positives - not only for this year, but for down the road as well. "Honestly, I'm pretty excited about the group," he said. "We don't have a lot of experience, but we've got competition at every position and there's not a big drop-off between the ones and twos, and in some cases even the threes. So they'll keep pushing each other. We had a great practice yesterday, it was a lot of fun. They all see that there's a chance, and that keeps everyone motivated."


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