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

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June 4, 2008 3:41 PM

Looking at the linebackers

Posted by Bob Condotta

Tuesday's news about E.J. Savannah's injury has led to some requests to review UW's linebacking situation.

So here we go.

First, here's what the depth chart at LB appeared to look like at the end of the spring (there was no official depth chart released).

SLB Mason Foster, So.
Chris Stevens, Sr.
Cort Dennison, Fr.

MLB Donald Butler, Jr./or/
Trenton Tuiasosopo, Sr.
Kurt Mangum, Fr.
T.J. Poe, Jr.

WLB Joshua Gage, Jr./ or
E.J. Savannah, Jr.
Matt Houston, So.

Worth remembering that the LBs, especially at the two outside spots, often take turns working at the other side in practice, so most of those of those guys have experience at multiple spots and can move around pretty easily. They also sometimes line up in different spots depending on schemes.

The only other scholarship LB on the roster for the fall figures to be Bradly Roussel, a high schooler from Baton Rouge, La., assuming no position changes. So what you see above is what UW is likely to have this season.

One of you asked if this means Kurt Mangum will now get to play some next year --- while listed as an MLB, LB coach Chris Tormey said Mangum appears to have the versatility to play outside, as well.

In answering that question, it may be worth remembering that the apparent worst-case scenario on Savannah is that he's out for the first few games of the season, and not much longer, so I wouldn't think that the coaches would start making big changes in any way. For now, I would imagine they will wait until the beginning of camp and see where Savannah is and then proceed accordingly. Meaning, I doubt they'd rush Mangum into duty just to add depth for a couple of games unless he proves worthy of playing anyway.

During the spring, Tormey felt pretty good about the LB spot, agreeing that it should be one of the strengths of the team this season.

"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.''

If the Huskies really run into depth issues at LB, one solution could be moving Austin Sylvester back to that spot. He began his UW career there before moving to fullback.

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