The No. 4 Bulldogs have started seven different combinations at the position this season and still don’t know which three players will start, or even who will be able to play, against No. 10 Hawaii in Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl here in the Louisiana Superdome.
“Plan A is to have everyone healthy and ready to go, but that may not be the case, so we’ll have to have multiple guys ready to play,” linebackers coach John Jancek said Friday.
Leading tackler Dannell Ellerbe is slowed by an injury or ailment he refuses to reveal, and Marcus Washington has been limited all week due to an ankle injury.
“I don’t have any issues,” said Ellerbe, who will admit only to a sore throat but has missed at least part of the practices here.
Ellerbe is “really day-to-day,” Jancek said. “He’s going to have to play with some pain. It’s not going to be 100 percent, and he’s just going to have to give us what he can.”
Washington estimated his ankle was at 85 percent of its full capacity, but he expects to play.
“I got out here and practiced (Friday) and felt pretty good on it so it should be all right,” he said. “I need my ankle to heal up so I can keep up with these guys.”
Teams facing the Warriors can hardly afford to have ailing linebackers. Hawaii’s run-and-shoot offense forces linebackers into pass coverage situations against wide receivers.
“They get the ball out in space where mobility is the key to your success, and if you don’t feel like you are 100 percent mobile and at top speed then there is obviously some concern there,” Jancek said. “We are just going to have to play a multiple number of guys and keep them fresh and everyone has to contribute and just pull on the rope a little bit harder.”