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Recent injuries
Richard Linde, 19 April 2008

Center Juan Garcia suffered what could be a serious leg injury in practice Friday after just being named to the Outland Trophy watch list for next season. That’s bad luck for Juan, the last of Rick Neuheisel's recruits on the team. Click on the following link:

(Huskies center Garcia injured).

And that could be bad luck for Coach Tyrone Willingham, too.

Along with Jake Locker, Willingham’s lifeline was supposed to have been the offensive line this season. Going into the spring camp, the beleaguered coach’s plan was to score as many points as last season and to improve on defense. Now the OL’s uncertainty, with guard Ryan Tolar and Garcia out with injuries, could become a nail-biter come fall if the OL’s injuries don’t heal.

Matt Sedillo is considered a capable replacement for Garcia; however, if Garcia doesn't return for the 2008 season, depth issues come into play.

At last Picture Day, Garcia asked me whether I was a member of the media. I answered no and he seemed more at ease. ;-)

Garica's dedication to Willingham, his studies and the team has been extraordinary. Providing he rehabs this injury, he is certain to be a leading candidate for the Guy Flaherty Award, as the Huskies' most inspirational player in 2008. Over the last two years, Garcia started 25-straight games and played every snap of the 2006 season.

Ironically, he missed the 2004 and 2005 seasons because of leg and ankle injuries suffered during spring drills in 2004.

From the reports I’ve been reading, both the OL and DL have had an up-and-down spring.

Speaking of Neuheisel, apparently UCLA’s OL is having an iffy, if not bad, spring also.

The LA Times’ Chris Foster is quoting UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel as saying "we need to improve dramatically in the throwing game" while offensive coordinator Norm Chow said, "we couldn't run the ball a lick (during the last practice)."

(UCLA offense not sharp in scrimmage).

Considering the emotion involved with Rick’s return to Husky Stadium in a mid-November game, I’m looking for Ty Willie to thump slick Rick and his gutty little Bruins -- with the last of Rick’s recruits, Garcia, having a big day.

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In her blog (April 17), Molly Yanity writes, (Brandon) Johnson apparently suffered the (knee) injury Tuesday and Willingham isn't sure how long it will keep the (RB) job's front-runner out. Willingham said it could be day to day, or it could keep him out the rest of the spring. (He also added that Johnson could be ‘surfing in Hawaii,’ but that's pretty unlikely.) With some certainty, Willingham did say the injury wasn't something that would put the season in jeopardy.”

One poster wrote, “johnson could be surfing in (sic) hawaii? i (sic) dont get it.”

Molly replied, “Willingham was just keeping Johnson's status as vague as he could -- which is annoying.

But, the way Johnson was limping around, I doubt he will return this spring, and I'm certain he won't be surfing in Hawaii.”

It does seem annoying, Molly. Could this be the reason?

I am certain that last season’s Hawaii game is still a bugaboo with Willingham. It’s a game that almost caught his hot seat on fire and could have cost AD Todd Turner his job. Willingham’s recent comment on the rules’ change on having the whole body beyond the line of scrimmage, instead of part of it, is indicative. Last year’s interpretation of the beyond-the-line of scrimmage rule led to Hawaii’s winning touchdown drive.

In March, I talked to Willingham about the 18-straight running plays that took a 21-0 lead against Hawaii, and he seemed nonplussed. His wife, Kim, returned a smile. I told Ty that that series of plays reminded me of the Huskies of old.

Against Hawaii, UW controlled the ball for the first three quarters, leading 28-21, but surrendered TOP on the game and the lead in the fourth quarter.

For me, Rankin’s running on the season, those 18 plays against Hawaii and Locker’s spectacular debut against Syracuse were some of the highlights of last season. Of course, Locker was entertaining all season long.

What I’m trying to say is that a fan can have fun during a losing season by latching onto the little things, while keeping expectations realistic, as to winning and losing.

With respect to the determined, rigid, straight-ahead Willingham, of course, it’s “just win.”

Most likely, his job depends on winning at least half his games this season.

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JC transfer Jordan Cameron (6-foot-5, 230) has joined USC as a wide receiver. That gives Troy 11 wide receivers going into the fall camp. I would think that every college quarterback would want at least one tall WR to throw to.

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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