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

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March 28, 2009 1:26 PM

Top five questions for spring

Posted by Bob Condotta

About 75 hours now until spring ball begins for the Washington Huskies.

And after the realization of "so, that's what a football practice looks like'' wears off, here are five other things I think those in attendance may be most curious to see.

1, How is Jake Locker, and how is he fitting into the offense?

There's always a danger of putting too much of the focus on Locker. But given his injury of last fall and having to adjust to a new offense with just two years remaining in his UW career, this is a critical spring for Locker. Steve Sarkisian said Locker will be good to go for the beginning of spring. Still, Husky nation will likely breath a sigh of relief once he's actually out there throwing it around again. Once he passes that test it will then be a matter of how quickly he can master the playbook.

2, How is the offensive line coming together?

The most optimistic reports of what has leaked of the off-season conditioning center on the line, said to have lost an average of 11 pounds or so across the board, with the hope that it will result in a leaner, more athletic, quicker group. New OL coach Dan Cozzetto has some experience to build around with returning tackles Ben Ossai and Cody Habben and guard Ryan Tolar (a combined 67 career starts). UW will need to find a new center and guard but the old staff was extremely high on freshman Mykenna Ikehara, who could step right in at center, which might allow Matt Sedillo to move to guard. There's also been talk of some position moves that could add depth to the OL that will be worth watching. And as the well-worn cliche says, it all starts up front, and the sooner the Huskies can solidify this area the better.

3, Who emerges at running back?

USC always did this position by committee, so Sarkisian probably won't be all that hell-bent on trying to establish a starter now. Still, the Huskies need to start finding some guys that they feel comfortable with in their new offense. Everyone won't be available with Terrance Dailey out after shoulder surgery and the status of Chris Polk uncertain. But the likes of Brandon Johnson and Willie Griffin should be ready to go, and then there are intriguing newcomers such as Demitrius Bronson and Curtis Shaw, said to be moving back to running back. This should be a position that yields a lot of good competition this spring.

4, What's the situation in the secondary?

It was last spring when new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell made some pretty significant changes here to move some bigger players to the cornerback spots, which obviously yielded uneven results, at best. It won't be a surprise if there is some experimentation in the secondary this spring as the new coaches try to sort out who fits best where. However, with two JC recruits who could compete for starting jobs not due until August and Jason Wells also out for the spring with an injury, most of these positions figure to still be up for grabs heading into the fall.

5, How do the players adjust to the new coaching staff?

This won't really be all that easy to accurately judge for a while. The players will almost certainly say all the right things and there's no doubt that after the disaster of last year the team will be accepting of a new way of operating (or at least it ought to be). Still, even embracing change doesn't necessarily guarantee buying into the new staff --- as became evident during the Tyrone Willingham era. This spring will be key for building the kind of coach-player relationships that will be needed to turn this thing around.

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