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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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April 2, 2008 9:48 PM

Tormey talks linebackers

Posted by Bob Condotta

I had a chance to talk a little bit with linebackers coach Chris Tormey during Tuesday's press luncheon.

It's a position that could be the strength of the defense this season, especially if E.J. Savannah makes it back from his current exiled status for what coach Tyrone Willingham says is a failure to fulfill team responsibilities. Willingham says Savannah (and RB J.R. Hasty who is enduring the same punishment) could be back at any time.

"It is what it is,'' Tormey said. "We'll deal with it and go on from here.''

Assuming Savannah eventually returns, this could be the most experienced and deepest group of linebackers UW has had since Tormey returned as a coach in 2004.

"I think so,'' Tormey said. "We were talented but inexperienced a year ago. I think the experience is going to really help us this year. What we really need to do is play faster, and the experience will really help with that.''

Tormey went on to say that "we've got, I think, pretty good depth at that position. We played a lot of guys last year. Donald Butler, Trenton Tuiasosopo played a lot and Josh Gage really came on and played a lot for us at the end of the year. Mason Foster is an emerging guy and Kurt Mangum is coming in (as a true freshman) so I think we've got some answers there.'' He then realized he hadn't mentioned Chris Stevens and said he's in the mix as well. "He had a really good winter,'' Tormey said, saying Stevens, who has continually battled problems putting on weight, is at about 215 pounds right now.

Butler, listed as a co-starter in the middle with Tuiasosopo, had his season truncated a year ago by a knee injury that limited him to eight games.

"He's really battled through a lot of issues with that knee, but right now he appears to be healthy,'' Tormey said. "So you've really got two capable players at that position and we'll probably rotate them through this spring.''

Of Tuiasosopo, Tormey said: "He had a good winter, he's moving well. I think the experience that he gained last year will really help him. The more he plays the better he will react and the faster he will play.''

With Savannah currently out, Gage, a former walk-on now on scholarship, is the starter at one spot (the strongside slot held last year by Dan Howell) backed up by Matt Houston, who Tormey said "is really athletic. He has a chance to help us this year.''

Foster is listed as the starter at weakside linebacker backed up by Stevens.

The wildcard in the mix is Mangum. Tormey said he was initially recruited to play in the middle but that "he has the versatility to play outside so we will look at him both inside and outside.''

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