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

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April 11, 2008 9:08 AM

Checking in on the running backs

Posted by Bob Condotta

For today's story I wrote about Brandon Johnson and the running back situation.

Johnson makes it clear he wants the job to be his, as would just about any player in his position. More likely is some sort of rotation with UW having a number of young players at that spot.

I also talked with new running backs coach Steve Gervais about the position.

"I think there is great competition that is going to take place for the full 15 days and when we get to the end of spring ball we will try and sort it out and see who emerges at the top,'' he said. "Brandon has the experience of playing some last year where the other two redshirted, but I think right now we just want to see how they all perform and compete.''

Asked to assess each, Gervais said:

"I think Willie Griffin is a good smart football player. He runs tough inside and he has good lateral quickness in there.''

"Brandon Yakaboski has a little bit more when it comes to the outside. He has the ability to get out there and he's maybe a little better pass catcher.''

"Brandon Johnson has great strength, great lower body strength, and good vision inside. He definitely slashes and sees the hole and gets through it.''

Gervais is also in charge of the team's three fullbacks --- Paul Homer, Luke Kravitz and Austin Sylvester (walk-on Tobias Togi is practicing right now due to academic issues).

There isn't a huge competition there at the moment with Homer entrenched as the starter, Kravitz a backup who will rotate in, and Sylvester a freshman who is learning the position.

Gervais said Homer "is as good as you are going to find anywhere. He is a great, physical football player and a great leader and a smart kid. I don't think you could ask for a better person to protect for Jake Locker making great blocks and occasionally carrying the football.''

Of the others, Gervais said "Luke backs (Homer) up and he's a smart kid and will do a good job there. Austin is learning it. But he's physical and he'll be a good player.''

For those wondering how Gervais is adjusting to college coaching, it's not something he says is a big deal.

"Football is football,'' he said, pretty much leaving the question there.

Players, however, speak highly of the impact Gervias has made so far.

"He explains to us what to do and pretty much just walks us through it,'' Johnson said. "He makes it that much easier. I like coach Gervais a lot. He's taught me more stuff than I ever knew since he's been here. How to read defenses and read the fronts and understand the defensive line and the different techniques they are in.''

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