Pac-12: Josh Gage

Pac-10 Morning: Devil of a storm hits Devil Dome

August, 29, 2008
8/29/08
10:48
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

How about Stanford! Glad I picked that upset. Wait. I didn't pick that upset. D'oh.

Pac-10 Morning: California's WR issues

August, 6, 2008
8/06/08
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Touching all the bases while optimism remains high.

Huskies defense stranded on Savannah

August, 5, 2008
8/05/08
2:27
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The biggest news out of the Pac-10 on the first day of practices was the suspension of Washington linebacker E.J. Savannah due to academic and other, undisclosed issues.

Bob Condotta gives his thoughts on the suspension here, which could end shortly... or could extend into the season. Or be forever, given the up-and-down nature of Savannah's recent career.

It's worth noting, however, that Savannah, who might have missed some action if any even with a broken arm, hasn't been banished from the team. He attended yesterday's practice.

Included in Condotta's blog entry is this anecdote from the Huskies new defensive coordinator Ed Donatell:

"Don James used to talk about a guy they had at Kent State named Bob Bender,'' Donatell said recalling James' early-70s stint as head coach at Kent State before coming to UW in 1975. "Everybody thought he was the greatest thing they'd ever had. Then he decided not to play football and they said 'oh no, we can't line up without this guy.' And they had this tall skinny guy take his place, 208 pounds. His name was Jack Lambert. The rest is history. Sometimes there are guys like that, you just don't know.

"So we are looking at it as an opportunity to develop depth and if he makes it back, we will have those things ready for him. If not, we will go another direction.''

Perhaps Josh Gage, the 6-foot-2, 226-pound former walk-on, becomes a star after he steps in for Savannah. But that's a long shot.

Here are the larger problems for the Huskies.

  • They are now replacing six starters from last year's defense. That defense, by the way, was the worst in school history, giving up 31.6 points and 446.4 yards per game.
  • That unit also ranked last in the Pac-10 against the run (184.5 yards per game). There will be three new defensive linemen up front, a troika that combined for three total tackles last year.
  • Savannah led the Huskies with 111 tackles.

This will be a big hit to a young defense's confidence. No matter what coaches say publicly, the players know how valuable Savannah was. Confidence is one of the most crucial needs for this unit, as well as the entire team. It will be hard to build confidence when the Huskies know the guy who makes the most tackles isn't playing.

With win-now pressure on coach Tyrone Willingham, it will be interesting to see if Savannah gets reinstated sooner rather than later.

Top LB Savannah not on Washington roster

August, 4, 2008
8/04/08
5:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

The early news at Washington isn't good.

  • The campaign to rebuild the defense took a hit Monday when it was announced that linebacker E.J. Savannah, who broke his arm over the summer, has been suspended. Savannah isn't listed on the current roster, though coach Tyrone Willingham left open the option of him returning this season. The first-team LBs are Donald Butler, Mason Foster and Josh Gage.
  • Four freshmen didn't report due to academic issues: DL Craig Noble, RB Demitrius Bronson, DL Senio Kelemete and DB Vince Taylor.
  • The Huskies fairly long run without an off-field incident also came to an end with redshirt freshman TE Chris Izbicki being charged with "criminal trespass in the second degree and minor in possession of liquor after an incident on July 20," according to the Seattle Times.

Savannah is a big loss. He was one of the conference's best LB, ranking sixth in tackles with 111 in 2007 (8.5 for a loss). Moreover, Noble was an incoming freshman expected to immediately push for playing time, while Izbicki, the most touted recruit from 2007, was expected to challenge Michael Gottlieb for the starting job.

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