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Young Huskies Reliable Coach Lauds Development Of Vital Underclassmen

Rashaan Shehee is out with a sprained left knee. Brock Huard has a sprained left ankle and might not play.

Will the injuries to two key players slow Washington’s offense Saturday when the No. 6 Huskies (7-1, 5-0 Pacific 10 Conference) play Oregon (4-4, 1-4) at Husky Stadium?

Sophomore Maurice Shaw will replace Shehee, the Pac-10’s leading rusher, at tailback. Marques Tuiasosopo could become the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Huskies if Huard, who leads the nation in passing efficiency, is held out of the game.

Huard took part in Thursday afternoon’s practice and coach Jim Lambright said his sophomore quarterback “looked a step better.” Lambright said he will decide on a quarterback on game day.

Shaw is averaging 4.2 yards and has scored five touchdowns on 88 carries, compared with Shehee’s 6.2 average and eight touchdowns.

Tuiasosopo played the final three quarters against Nebraska and the final half against Southern California. He has a higher passing-efficiency rating than Huard - 180.22 to Huard’s 169.37. The son of former NFL defensive lineman Manu Tuiasosopo is completing 64.7 percent of his passes (22 for 34) for 389 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

“I think that the greatest progress we’ve made has been with our young players,” Lambright said. “More and more, you’re getting names of freshmen or redshirt freshmen or sophomores who are playing key roles for us. That’s what we had to have.

“We had to have them with experience so you can get through these games in November without losing one.”

Of Tuiasosopo, Lambright said: “I think you saw in the Nebraska game exactly how this team adapted to Marques Tuiasosopo and how he rises to an occasion.”

As for Shaw replacing Shehee: “It shouldn’t change anything,” Lambright said. “It gives us a little better power running inside because of his strength.”

Despite the injuries to Shehee and Huard in a 27-0 victory over Southern California last Saturday, Washington is a 21-point favorite to win its 13th consecutive Pac-10 game.