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

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August 5, 2008 1:26 PM

Denbrock happy with O-line condition

Posted by Bob Condotta

What is an annual question early in fall camp --- the condition of the offensive linemen --- appears to have a good answer for the Huskies.

UW offensive line coach Mike Denbrock, who is one who doesn't usually skirt the truth, said "we did a nice job on the conditioning test'' on Monday and that the overall shape of his troops appears to be good.

"I'm really happy with what we did over the summer time,'' he said. "We seem to be well ahead of where we were a year ago at this time. With guys this big, you are always watching their weight and making sure they are in the realm of what's acceptable and what's not, and we are pretty close.''

That's good news for the Huskies as the O-line looms as a key for UW this year as potentially the biggest strength on the team aside from quarterback. At least three starters return --- left tackle Ben Ossai and guards Casey Bulyca and Ryan Tolar --- and it could be four if center Juan Garcia can make it back. The one new starter, right tackle Cody Habben, got significant experience last year, including three starts.

Garcia, recovering from a Lisfranc injury to his left foot, told reporters earlier in the day that he has it in the back of his mind that he could be back for the Oregon game, and is definitely hopeful of returning in time for the BYU or Oklahoma games.

Denbrock remains more cautious on that front, however, knowing that any setback for Garcia could cause a significant delay in his return.

"We all understand what a tenuous situation that is and we are going to progress really cautiously and see how that progresses,'' Denbrock said.

The uncertainty over Garcia is why the team has Tolar now also working at center --- he will apparently rotate between center and guard with Denbrock saying he envisions a four-man rotation in the middle of Tolar, Bulyca, center Matt Sedillo and guard Jordan White-Frisbee (and obviously five if Garcia makes it back).

Playing Tolar at center "gives us a chance to get a little more deeper up front and just make us better in the long run overall, no matter what, in case something happens during the season where we need more guys in there. ... Especially early on we'll just keep rotating guys in there and getting them as much work as we can.''

Denbrock said there were a few bad snaps yesterday with Tolar but that "some of that stuff is going to happen in there, particularly the first day.''

The tackle spots are more set with Ossai and Habben. Ossai, long touted as one of the most talented UW linemen, is one who has been criticized for his conditioning in the past. But Denbrock said he appears to have had a good summer.

"'He's growing up,'' Denbrock said. "Some guys progress faster than others. He's progressing in that. Definitely I'd like to snap my fingers and say 'hey, here's that All-American I promised you.' But little by little, I think he is making progress in that direction and I like the direction he has gone, particularly last spring and headed into fall camp. He has himself headed to being the type of player we need him to be on the left-hand side, so we are happy where he is at right now.''

Denbrock said Mark Armelin is the backup at left tackle with Skyler Fancher the backup at right tackle --- each is a redshirt freshmen. Nick Scott, the walk-on transfer from Drake, could also work himself into the depth at tackle, Denbrock said.

"He's an experienced guy who will hopefully those guys along and maybe work his way into the depth, as well,'' Denbrock said.

Morgan Rosborough also remains in the conversation as a backup at right guard, with Denbrock noting the Huskies have more depth up front than any time during his tenure.

"We've got 17 bodies out there, which is more than we've had in the past,'' he said. "And it's kind of nice.''

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