The University of Washington offensive line is still a work in progress.
Not surprisingly, offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto has kept his players away from the media so they don’t have to try to answer questions that don’t yet have an answer.
But the state of the offensive line is something Huskies fans have concerns about heading into the Sept. 1 season opener against San Diego State.
So Cozzetto decided to send a representative to speak for the offensive line. And who better than fifth-year senior center Drew Schaefer, a two-year returning starter who is growing into something of a media presence with his blog, “The Left Hand Stance,” on the CoachSark.com website.
“I did a summer internship with the football offices in the athletic department, and we came up with this idea to have this inside perspective for the season,” Schaefer said. “They thought I have a good personality and I have a communications background.”
Schaefer’s blog posts include personal thoughts, videos featuring jokes of the day from teammates and other features.
“It’s a different perspective for the fans to see some of the stuff they wouldn’t always see,” he said.
It’s kind of like the play of the offensive line. A lot of fans can’t see what really goes on in the trenches, or even know what is going right or wrong.
The graduate of Eastlake High School in Sammamish said he thinks the offensive line is making progress.
“I’ve been really pleased with the offensive line, from the point where we ended spring to the first week of camp, we’ve made a lot of strides,” Schaefer said. “Obviously, there’s stuff we can work on, in terms of communication and playing together. I’m really happy with where we are at.”
With junior guard Erik Kohler getting injured on the first day of fall camp, sophomore guard Colin Tanigawa still recovering from offseason knee surgery, and Senio Kelemete (graduated) and Colin Porter (retired) no longer around, Schaefer is surrounded by younger players.
“When you look at the line right now, there’s me, a senior, and then redshirt freshman, redshirt sophomores, and most of those guys don’t have much playing experience. This is a really crucial part for the offensive line to mold together,” he said.
He had nothing but praise for the younger players.
“Especially the tackles, Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva, I think are doing a lot better with their sets. They’re giving Keith (Price, quarterback) a lot more time in the pocket,” Schaefer said. “Dexter Charles, he’s come a long ways and I expect him to play this year. Even some of the freshmen, Shane Brostek, he came in and started off on a great note.”
The plan was for Schaefer to see some repetitions at first-team left tackle with Kohler taking some snaps at center, but that changed when Kohler went down with a dislocated kneecap.
“It was an idea we kind of played around with a little bit, during the summer when we did our team workouts,” Schaefer said. “I had been taking reps at left tackle and was kind of comfortable with it, nothing new. It was unfortunate what happened to Kohler and it was an easy transition back inside having played two years. I just wanted to be prepared for it. It was better to be comfortable with it before the season started rather than two weeks into camp.”
His fellow linemen have all been getting work at multiple positions for a reason – to withstand injuries, like what happened to Kohler.
“The good thing is that we’re all position flexible. You’ll see guys playing left guard, left tackle, right tackle; move around a lot,” he said. “The good thing is that all our guys know how to play each position.”
Like Nate Fellner, Taz Stevenson and Evan Zeger before him, Travis Feeney has made the move from safety to linebacker. The redshirt freshman was working with the No. 1 defense at outside linebacker, the position also played by the three other converted safeties. With Fellner out for four weeks with a broke foot, and Stevenson still recovering from a concussion, Feeney brings depth to the position. … True freshman defensive end Pio Vatuvei got some work on offense, playing fullback in goal-line situations. Vatuvei played fullback in high school. … Linebacker Jamaal Kearse (thigh bruise), wide receiver James Johnson (foot injury), cornerback Marcus Peters (sore back) dressed out but were limited in practice. Safeties Shaq Thompson and Justin Glenn sat out the practice with mild concussions. … Coach Steve Sarkisian said that linebacker Thomas Tutogi’s knee sprain is not as bad first feared and he will return sooner than firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @RyanDivish