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

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August 12, 2008 8:40 PM

Husky nightcap, day nine

Posted by Bob Condotta

A recap of the day that was:

WHAT HAPPENED --- The Huskies held one practice, going in full pads in the afternoon.

THE BIG STORY --- Another day, another injury. this one to tight end Michael Gottlieb, who suffered a hamstring injury on Monday.

Interestingly, Gottlieb described the injury this way: "It's similar to Jake's (Locker). I just tweaked my hamstring a little bit, but not as severe. I should be back in a couple of days.'' UW coach Tyrone Willingham, meanwhile, hinted that Gottlieb's was worse than Locker's while saying that Locker could be back any day.

Either way, that meant that the Huskies practiced today without three projected offensive starters heading into the year --- Gottlieb, Locker and Brandon Johnson --- with Juan Garcia also still not 100 percent (though admittedly way ahead of where anyone thought). Throw in the depature of Curtis Shaw and the loss of E.J. Savannah, and that's six potential starters in varying states of unavailablity at the moment.

Considering that all but Shaw and Savannah could be back or healthy soon, it's too soon to panic. But this is a team with little margin for error, and with each day lost to injury for a key player, that margin gets a little slimmer.

Also out today were Brandon Yakaboski (hip flexor), DB Anthony Gobern (leg) and CB Byron Davenport (ankle).

THE BIG STORY, NO. 2 --- The apparently temporary loss of Gottlieb means a new starter at TE for a little while, and Willingham said that as of today, that would be fifth-year senior Walt Winter. Winter was one of the more highly-rated recruits of the Class of 2004 but has struggled to find his niche, starting out on defense, then moving to tight end.

But Willingham said the wait may finally be paying off for Winter.

"Walt has been a very good receiver the entire time he has been (a tight end),'' Willingham said. "Now he's starting to show some signs at being better at all the other responsibilities at tight end, and that comes with experience. He's starting to know things and understand things. He still has some growing to do, but I like where he is going.''

The injury to Gottlieb could also open the door for Kavario Middleton to get into the mix. Willingham said Middleton is having a good camp. "He has not disappointed,’’ Willingham said.

BACK IN THE SWING --- Talked to Chancellor Young for a little while today seeing how his return to football has been going. With Shaw leaving, there is even a greater chance for Young to see the field as a receiver.

Young said he thinks it's going well, something WR coach Charlie Baggett also said, saying Young has had some good moments. He's playing both inside and outside at WR and his size (6-0, 220 pounds) makes him one of UW's biggest receivers.

"I'm just trying to get the rust off,'' he said. "But it's not too bad. I've got the feeling now like I know what to expect.''

I asked him if he'd taken a big hit yet to get reacquainted with that feeling and he said no.

"We haven't really been like 'just let it go' yet because we're trying to keep everybody up,'' he said. "The banging hasn't been too bad.''

QUESTION OF THE DAY --- A reader asked today "Is it just me, or have the Huskies had an abnormally large amount of personnel issues so far with ineligibility and injuries compared to other teams and past years?''

A: That's a little hard to answer since I don't follow other teams as closely to really know how many personnel issues they have. I know USC and UCLA have also had QB issues, WSU just lost one of its best receivers for up to two months, OSU had a safety leave the team shortly before the season, etc. In other words, every team has issues, they can just often seem magnified when they happen to your team. That said, as mentioned above, this is an unusually young team without a lot of experience that needs all the practice time together it can get. And obviously losing playmakers like Savannah and Shaw hurts a team with this many personnel issues. As for the injuries, we basically need to see what team lines up on Aug. 30 before we answer that.

WHAT'S NEXT ---The Huskies are scheduled for two practices today, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

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