Spring Preview: Offensive Line

Heading into the 2009 season, the biggest question-mark on the Washington football team was how their offensive line would play. While it wasn't outstanding by any stretch, they were able to hold their own for most of the season and this year the expectation is for them to be much better. Read the second entry in our spring preview series to see what to expect…

The Players: Sr. Cody Habben (T); Sr. Greg Christine (G); Sr. Ryan Tolar (G/C); Jr. Senio Kelemete (T/G); So. Drew Schaefer (T); Jr. Skyler Fancher (T); Jr. Nick Wood (G); So. Mykenna Ikehara (C); Jr. Scott Shugert (G); Jr. Mark Armelin (G)

The Questions: With some players missing the spring, what will the lineup look like? Can Kelemete become the bookend left tackle Washington needs? Can this unit become dominant allowing the offense to get to the next level of their development?

The team took a bit of a hit with the news that Habben will miss spring ball while rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery. Word is that he's healing up just fine and should be ready for the fall.

In his place, it appears that Kelemete is set to take over and with his skill set – outstanding size, agility and motor – the junior-to-be could be one of the best tackles in the country by the time he leaves following the 2011 season.

Schaefer was up and down during his redshirt freshman season in 2009. He struggled at times with speed rushers, but as the season progressed, like the rest of the offense, he seemed to find a comfort zone and was solid at the end.

Backing up both spots will be Fancher, a talented player who has yet to see much playing time due to some injuries. However, it appears he's back to being healthy and should give the Dawgs some leeway in how they use different players.

Tolar is the rock inside for Washington. He's big and physical and he's really turned himself into a big-time pro prospect. After getting a look at him this offseason, he's obviously taken to the training program that Strength and Conditioning coach Ivan Lewis has implemented. He's huge, has very little in the way of a gut and he's learned a lot from playing both center and guard in his career.

The hope from the coaching staff has to be that Ikehara has added significant bulk to his frame in order the handle the rigors of an entire Pac 10 season. It's well-known that he's one of the strongest Huskies and the defensive lineman hate going up against him in practice, but because he played much of 2009 at 265 pounds, the worry is he won't be able to hold up.

Should Ikehara end up at center, that would allow Tolar to move to his more natural left guard position next to Kelemete.

That would also allow Christine, Wood, Armelin and Shugert to duke it out for the spot at right guard.

Christine really impressed the coaches last spring and he was the opening day starter when the Huskies took the field against LSU Labor Day weekend. Because he's still recovering from a broken leg, he will miss spring football, but projections are that he will be fine for summer workouts.

Wood made the switch from defense after the season had started and so impressed the coaches that he saw playing time against Notre Dame. He struggled some as the season wound down, but the hope is with a full season at the position he could, at the very least, give them a solid depth guy.

Shugert and Armelin are mysteries and it remains to be seen if they will ever contribute above special teams and the scout unit.

Coming in the summer will be one of the biggest (literally) hauls of offensive line talent in quite some time at Washington. The Dawgs added Micah Hatchie, Erik Kohler, Michael Criste and James Atoe to the tackle spots while Colin Porter and Ben Riva are likely headed inside to guard and Colin Tanigawa will get his first look at center.

Hatchie and Atoe appear set at tackle, but Kohler and Criste could move inside if the need arises. Porter has been hard at work preparing to take some reps at center once he arrives and Riva, while projected to play inside, could end up getting a look at tackle down the road.

No matter who steps up this spring, expect changes to happen right up until the Huskies' first game against BYU on September 9th.


Other position previews...

Spring Preview: Quarterbacks

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