UW Huskies Offensive Preview

In 2009, the Husky offense was largely inconsistent, often showing excellent playmaking ability up until the time they needed to score on the goal line or keep a drive going late in the game.  The hope is this year they will find that consistency and become the high-powered threat that their talent suggests.

Quarterback

Starter: Jake Locker  Maybe you’ve heard of this guy.  Senior starter who passed up millions to try to lead his team to a bowl game and make a run at the Heisman trophy.  He could be the best quarterback in the country, but he does need to make improvements, chiefly with his accuracy.  Sarkisian has him aiming for a 70% completion rate and 3/1 touchdown to interception ratio, which would be a season for the ages.  He likely won’t quite make that, but there’s no bigger threat at the position in the country.

Depth: Keith Price & Nick Montana  The two backups are still fighting for the job, although it appears Price has pulled ahead for now.  Price is more of an athlete who has struggled with his accuracy at times.  Montana, son of Joe, has the smarts but maybe not quite the arm strength or physical maturity yet.  Price will likely backup on a game to game basis, but if Locker went down for an extended period, either might take over.

Analysis: If Locker stays healthy, it doesn’t get much better.  If he goes down, it’s hard to say what would happen with Price or Montana under center.

Running Back

Starter: Chris Polk  Polk is coming off an 1,100 yard rushing performance and could be in for even more this year.  He’s a powerful runner with good speed.  Not really a bruiser, but a guy who’s hard to bring down, even in the heart of the defense.  He missed his first year and spring ball after major surgeries, but was very durable last season.  One of the best in a league full of excellent running backs.

Depth: Johri Fogerson  Fogerson brings a lot of experience and good hands in the passing game.  Carries were in short supply for Fogerson last year, however.  Whether that’ll change this year or what he would do with them given the chance remains to be seen.

Jesse Callier:  A true freshman, Callier figures to get the majority of the carries behind Polk.  He’s a shifty runner who was the talk of spring camp.  The regular season will be a little tougher, but Callier’s likely to make an impact as a change of pace from the powerful Polk.

Demetrius Bronson:  Bronson will likely play only in garbage time or in the event of numerous injuries.  A true power back, he was getting time at fullback in the spring.  He’s mostly been back at tailback since Deontae Cooper’s injury.

Fullback: Austin Sylvester  Sylvester takes over for Paul Homer, who manned the position quite well for what seemed like the last decade.  Sylvester’s a question mark, but he’s a big body who should theoretically be a good blocker, and that’s all this offense really needs.

Analysis: This position is in great shape as long as Polk stays healthy.  If he can’t, Cooper is a big loss, as he seems the only guy capable of being a complete back at this point.  Callier could prove that statement wrong, but right now he seems best used situationally.  Still, there’s a lot of talent here, more than the Huskies have had in a while.

Wide Receiver

Starters: Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, James Johnson, D’Andre Goodwin  This is a versatile and talented group.  Kearse can do it all, with great hands and an ability to go get the ball while it’s in the air that makes him a huge deep threat. Aguilar is more of a possession receiver who seemed to make big catch after big catch in the second half of last season.  James Johnson started huge as a true freshman before fading a bit, and has struggled with injuries a little this fall.  He has big potential and could be a star in short order.  Goodwin was the team’s leading receiver in 2008 but the forgotten man last year.  He’s made a big move this fall and provides excellent depth with the potential for a big season.

Depth: Kevin Smith, Cody Bruns, Jordan Polk  Smith is a true freshman who has impressed, but he’s unlikely to see big minutes unless he really makes a lot of plays or has injuries in front of him.  Bruns has never gotten much of a chance, but had a good camp.  Polk is a speedster who isn’t likely to see the field except for the occasional end-around run.

Analysis:  This is an impressive group, talented and varied.  Kearse is the star, but the others aren’t far behind.  If Smith makes quick progress, they could have five starting level receivers.

Tight End

Starter: Chris Izbicki  Izbicki is a former major recruit who hasn’t panned out thus far.  He showed some signs last year and made a big move this spring and fall, but it’s still a question whether he can catch the ball enough to be a major threat in the passing game.

Depth: Michael Hartvigson Hartvigson, a true freshman, seemed likely to redshirt, but Middleton’s departure and a knack for catching the ball took away that possibility.  How much impact he’ll have remains to be seen, but he’s sure to see the field, and if he can catch the ball, he could see the field an awful lot.

Analysis:  Losing Middleton certainly hurts the passing game.  Izbicki is a solid blocker, but it’s important that one of the two emerges as at least a good safety valve for Locker to dump the ball to.  If they can stretch the field down the middle, it’ll be one more big weapon.

Offensive Line

Starters:  Senio Kelemete, Ryan Tolar, Drew Schaefer, Greg Christine, Cody Habben  There’s a lot of talent and experience here, but that didn’t always help last year.  Tolar and Habben are the steady veterans, Kelemete is at a new position but is being talked of as potentially elite.  Christine, recovering from surgery that knocked him out last year, made a late move to take the starting spot from Mykenna Ikehara.  Schaefer’s new at center.

Depth: Erik Kohler, Nick Wood, Mykenna Ikehara, Colin Porter, Daniel Kanczugowski, Skyler Fancher  Decent depth.  Kohler and Porter are true freshman.  Ikehara has starting experience at both guard and center.

Analysis: The talent and experience are there.  This group just needs to put it together and dominate, or at least be consistently solid.

While the defense has the most improvement to make, the key to a great season could be the offense taking the step from good but inconsistent to consistently dominant.

-Matthew

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