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

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April 18, 2008 3:03 PM

Friday Willingham notes

Posted by Bob Condotta

Another day, another injury to a running back, one that sounds minor but figures to make for a fairly thin backfield when the team hits the field for a scrimmage later this afternoon.

UW coach Tyrone Willingham said in his meeting with the media today that running back Brandon Yakaboski is struggling with a neck sprain and may have to sit out today.

"It's more of a stiff neck, a little bit of a sprain there,'' he said. "Not a big thing.''

Still, it could make the backfield Brandon-less as Brandon Johnson also likely remains out with a knee injury suffered earlier this week. Johnson met with the media today and said he suffered a hyperextended left knee when he fell the wrong way when tackled during a two-minute drill. He said he expects to be back Monday.

So the running back carries today will apparently all go to Willie Griffin and J.R. Hasty. Griffin said today that he feels a lot more agile this spring, having dropped from about 208 pounds last season to 195 this spring, the weight he played at in high school. He said he simply didn't come to camp last fall in the shape he should have been in.

The injuries to Johnson and Yakaboski could also mean more carries for fullbacks Paul Homer and Luke Kravitz.

"That's why we have such a wonderful group of fullbacks that have been itching to get their opportunity to run the football,'' Willingham said. "So they may get it today.''

Willingham said again that Hasty and former Bellevue High teammate E.J. Savannah have each played well since returning to practice this week.

"They've been wonderful,'' he said. "I think it's awful tough to play catch-up in a short amount of time. But they've done fine.''

Willingham also expanded on his comment of the day before when he praised the play of the defensive line. That led to the obvious question whether the veteran offensive line has been underachieving at all.

"There have been some good thigns with the offensive line, but as always there is give and take,'' he said. "They've had some good days and had some days that aren't so good. That's part of it. But what we want is an offensive line that has the ability to dominate. That's what we are looking for during the season. At the same time, if they have that potential and ability, that allows us to measure our defensive line, so I would say we've had a little of both --- some good play from the defensive line and at times some not so good play from our offensive line. But that is always the give-and-take of spring practice.''

The O-line is playing without starting guard Ryan Tolar, out for the spring after having off-season shoulder surgery. Asked if that has made a difference this spring, Willingham said "obviously I think it does. Ryan was a starter last year and was a contributor to a lot of the success we had as an offense. But I have been very pleased with the play of Jordan White-Frisbee and hopefully he can continue to improve at his game.''

The team is expected to conduct a full-scale scrimmage this afternoon but it is not open to the media so we won't have in-depth reports like the two previous scrimmages.

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