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

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June 16, 2008 1:28 PM

Denbrock breaks down the offensive line

Posted by Bob Condotta

In response to a few questions some of you asked about the offensive line, I decided to go straight to the source. Which meant dialing up UW offensive line coach Mike Denbrock, who was gracious enough to spend a little time reviewing what his players will do during the summer, how the line may look in the fall (could Ryan Tolar see time at center?) and what he thought of how it played in the spring.

Here are the highlights:

--- The entire team is basically allowed two weeks off from the end of school until June 23, when players return for the summer conditioning program. Players take summer school classes, do lifting and conditioning in the mornings four days a week and then seven-on-seven drills in the afternoon

--- Denbrock said exactly how they want the linemen to work out each summer "changes depending on what areas of weakness you feel like you have. ... We did a really good job over the winter and in the spring in the weight room. I thought we did some really good things and that the kids have done a lot better job of keeping themselves in physical condition, speaking of the line in particular. I think we are way ahead of where we were even a year ago at this time.''

--- Denbrock elaborated to say that he thinks the line has done a better job each year that this coaching staff has been here of adhering to the off-season program. "As time goes by, they all get a better idea of what is expected of them,'' he said. "It wasn't a real good situation when we first got here with summer conditioning and guys doing the things they needed to do to. We are at the point now where that is behind us.''

--- Denbrock said what would be expected when asked whether there is an emphasis on getting stronger or improving stamina --- ideally, they try to do both. "As much work as we can do on the conditioning end of things while managing in the weight room would obvioulsy be our major goal so that we can play harder and longer,'' he said. "If we've got a group of guys who can go all day, that's our goal going into the summer and coming out of the summer so that they are able to play as hard as they need to play on every play.''

--- For those who aren't aware of the rules, coaches are not allowed to be with the players during their summer workouts, so having playerse who will get the work done on their own is vital. Denbrock repeated what he said to the earlier question that he thinks the Huskies have more of those kinds of players now. "When we got here, that (commitment) wasn't nearly what it needed to be and that's something I've tried to get across to them and emphasize as much as I could. That leadership has to come from them, and as much as anything, that's what's improved. There were a lot of those days where I sat here and wondered if they were doing the right things. We don't have nearly as many of those concerns as we used to.''

--- One player who missed the spring is guard Ryan Tolar, recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Denbrock said Tolar is "doing really good. He's on schedule, if not ahead of schedule, and back to doing most of the lifts. We're still being a little cautious with him to make sure he is not pushing the envelope too fast because he's the type of guy who would say he is completely healthy and ready to go three months ago. But he's on track and pretty close to being fully healthy right now.''

--- When Tolar returns in the fall, he could get a lot of time at a new position --- center. While Denrock remains "cautiously optimistic'' that Juan Garcia will return from his foot injury (see this post on Garcia for Denbrock's thoughts on that topic), the Huskies also have to make plans in case he can't make it back. One of those involves experimenting with Tolar at center. Ryan Tolar is going to work at center some this summer,'' Denbrock said. "He's been doing that ever since the spring so he'll continue to do that. We have all the confidence in the world in Matt Sedillo and Greg Christine does a good job in there, too. All the inside guys (guards) will take turns getting their feet wet (at center). Tolar wil be the guy we'll use more regularly in that role just in case (Garcia can't return).''

--- Denbrock said he thinks Tolar can handle those dual duties well though he apparently hasn't played center with any regularity since early in his high school career. "He hasn't done a whole lot of (center) here,'' Denbrock said. "Last year during the season I introducted it to him again to just make sure because you want to have as much versatility as you can with those inside guys.''

--- One reason the team feels more comfortable possibly moving Tolar to center is the strong play in the spring of senior guard Jordan White-Frisbee, who could step in for Tolar at left guard if needed. "He's come a million miles from where he was a year ago at this time,'' Denbrock said of JWF. "He's made really fast progress and has a really great understanding of what we wantn to do. He had as good a spring as anybody up front. He's a guy who can go in there and move people around up front because he's just a big, strong, athletic human being.''

--- While at times it appeared as if the defensive line was playing better than expected, Denbrock said that wasn't a reflection of any unhappiness with the offensive line. "I was real happy with the way we came through spring ball,'' he said. "I felt like we took another step forward last season and I felt we followed that through with a really strong winter and polished it off with a really solid spring. So things are set up for us to be, I think, a leading group on this football team and something we are going to need to lean on.''

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