Huskies appear stable on the offensive line
The Washington Huskies' offensive line, an area of instability last season due to injuries, has been solid during spring practice.
Seattle Times staff reporter
One of the least stable position groups for the Washington Huskies last year — the offensive line — has been maybe the most constant as the football team completes spring practice this week.
The Huskies started six different offensive-line alignments in 13 games last season.
And that came after a revolving door of a spring in which UW lost the player some thought might be the anchor, guard Colin Porter, to career-ending shoulder surgery.
"As the guys were getting injured into fall camp last year it felt like a new face, a new number in there at right guard, then left guard, then right tackle," said UW coach Steve Sarkisian.
The line this spring, though, has been a rock of consistency, the same five players running with the starting unit since the first practice in March — left tackle Micah Hatchie, left guard Dexter Charles, center Mike Criste, right guard James Atoe and right tackle Ben Riva. All received significant experience last year.
The only starter lost off the 2012 line was center Drew Schaefer. Criste, who started seven games at guard and tackle last year, has been one of the breakout players of the spring by grabbing the center job.
Still, given the erratic play last season, there was thought the line could see serious shuffling, even at the spots where starters returned.
Sarkisian said that could still happen in the fall, when injured former starters Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa return to full health, and if emerging sophomore Shane Brostek shakes off nagging injuries.
Sarkisian said he expects that in UW's new up-tempo, no-huddle offense, the Huskies will have to rotate players up front more often.
But for now, the five starters have earned their roles.
"We were seeing if anybody could bump anybody out of there," Sarkisian said. "I think if we were to play a game we would probably play seven, eight offensive linemen, especially when we get Tanigawa back. We are going to see some different guys. With the tempo we are playing at, to think you are only going to play five offensive linemen isn't realistic."
When Tanigawa and Kohler return, UW will have seven players who have started at least seven games in their careers, the kind of depth the Huskies have not had in Sarkisian's first four seasons.
Charles, a sophomore from Stanwood, says he thinks there could be a big payoff in the fall to the consistency of the line this spring.
"I feel like it can make us tremendously better," said Charles, who started the final 11 games last season after Tanigawa was lost to a season-ending knee injury. "It helps us a lot because we get to know how each other plays. We can communicate. We know how the calls between each other are going to sound and how they are going to be like. We know what to expect from one another."
Spring game format announced
The Huskies will hold their annual spring game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. There is no admission charge. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Sarkisian said that due to a number of nagging injuries it will be more of a practice than a game.
"We're a little bit nicked up, so ... we are going to have a practice with scrimmage segments broken out between. We will have four scrimmage segments broken out in a practice format," Sarkisian said.
"That being said, there should be some fun stuff that takes place in the competitions we will do."
He said no score will be kept and that "we are going to do situational work, red zone, two-minute, backed-up situations, overtime, things like that."
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
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