Walk-on Greg Christine breaks into UW's starting lineup for opener against LSU
The first depth chart of the season for the Washington Huskies, released Monday morning, revealed only one real surprise.
But it was big enough that it caught even one of the participants off guard.
“I was sort of shocked,” said tackle Cody Habben of a shake-up of the team’s offensive line that had him moving from left to right tackle. “I just found out this morning.”
The particulars of the move were as follows: Walk-on junior Greg Christine was elevated to the starting unit at left guard, in turn moving Ben Ossai to left tackle and Habben to right tackle, displacing Drew Schaefer, who had been starting at right tackle but is now listed as a backup to Habben.
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For Ossai and Habben, it’s not a huge change — Ossai has started all but four games the past three years at left tackle and Habben started all but one game last year at right, so they are in essence returning to their old roles.
Both initially moved last spring when new UW coach Steve Sarkisian arrived. Then, Ossai was moved to guard and Habben to left tackle, making room for Schaefer at right tackle. That had been the regular line for most of spring and fall camp (the others being Ryan Tolar at center and Senio Kelemete at right guard), though other combinations had been tried.
And with the opener against Louisiana State just five days away, Sarkisian and line coach Dan Cozzetto thought a change was in order.
“We really tried to go back and evaluate all of fall camp and not get stuck on [which players had been practicing with] the ones or the twos,” Sarkisian said. “That’s why there was a lot of shake-up throughout fall camp. We wanted to put a lot of different scenarios out there.”
Habben, a junior from Skyline, said the main difference is in the footwork and that “it’s not too foreign to me. But it will be something that takes getting used to a little bit. But I should be ready by [game time].”
Christine is a junior from St. Bonaventure High in Camarillo, Calif., who was an invited walk-on in 2006. His only action came last year in the season finale at California, but he was named the offensive scout squad MVP at the end of the year and impressed UW coaches during camp.
The rest of the depth chart was pretty much as the team had looked throughout the last few practices of camp. Maybe the next biggest eye-opener was true freshman Desmond Trufant of Wilson High listed as a co-starter at one cornerback spot with junior Vonzell McDowell. The position is in some flux with Justin Glenn having been sidelined recently with a knee injury. Glenn, a redshirt freshman from Kamiak, has typically been the starter when healthy.
Trufant is one of five true freshmen who could play Saturday. Others on the depth chart are James Johnson, listed as a co-starter at one receiver spot; Andru Pulu and Talia Crichton, each listed as backups at defensive end; and Demitrius Bronson, listed as the fifth of five tailbacks.
• Chris Polk is listed as the starter at tailback with Johri Fogerson next, though Sarkisian said all five players at the spot could see action Saturday.
• Chris Izbicki and Kavario Middleton are listed as co-starters at tight end in part due to a hamstring injury that has had Middleton sidelined.
• Greg Walker is listed as the starting free safety.
• Jordan Polk and Devin Aguilar are listed as co-starters at one receiver spot and Johnson and Jermaine Kearse are co-starters at another with D’Andre Goodwin, healthy again after struggling to get past a hamstring injury early in camp, the other starting receiver.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org