There’s no time like the incredibly early to look ahead to next season. After the glorious Holiday Bowl win, I was curious what the starting line up will look like next year. There are some obvious losses, but it’s easy to focus on those and miss the bigger picture. I’m not going to try to do a full 2 Deep or anything, but here’s the starters as I see them, along with any other major contributors worth noting. Returning starters in bold.
QB Keith Price or Nick Montana
RB Chris Polk / Jesse Callier / Deontae Cooper
FB Zack Fogerson
WR Jermaine Kearse / Kasen Williams /Kevin Smith
WR Devin Aguilar / James Johnson / Cody Bruns
TE Michael Hartvigson or Austin Seferian Jenkins
LT Senio Kelemete
LG Colin Porter
C Drew Schaefer
RT Erik Kohler
PK Erik Folk
DE Hau’oli Jamora / Everette Thompson
DT Alameda Ta’amu / Sione Potoa’e
DT Semisi Tokolahi
DE Talia Crichton / Josh Shirley
LB Cort Dennison + ? (Wide open. Watch for: Princeton Fuimaono, Garret Gilliland, Thomas Tutogi, Victor Burnett, among others)
CB Quinton Richardson / Adam Long
CB Desmond Trufant / Greg Ducre
S Nate Fellner / Taz Stevenson
S Sean Parker
P Will Mahan / Kiel Rasp?
- The defensive line could go from last year’s liability to this year’s strength. If they can build off their Holiday Bowl performance and stay healthier than this past year, there’s some good talent there. A lot will depend on whether Tokolahi can come back from his injury. DT depth is still a little lacking, but it’s getting better, and Ta’amu could be poised for a huge season.
- The biggest question marks on each side of the ball: quarterback and linebacker. The two areas that were generally the strength of their units now have the potential to be the weak link. Both have talent but not much experience. There could be some growing pains on each side, but I’m not overly worried. QB is the scarier spot of the two, in my opinion.
- The O-line should really benefit from Kohler and Porter playing so much this year. Kelemete and Schaefer were probably the two best veterans this year, and if they can find someone for the fifth spot, this could be one of the more talented lines UW has had in recent years. That doesn’t necessarily translate to production, but it’s a good start. It remains to be seen what position everyone will actually play, but I’d expect those four to be starting for sure.
- This could be the year the secondary really develops as well. Trufant and Richardson really matured in the last few games of the season, and Long and Ducre provide fast, talented depth behind them. Nate Williams could be a big loss, but Fellner is entering his third season as a starter and Parker was the most talented player in last year’s recruiting class. More reliable man coverage would really open up this defense.
- The offensive skill positions (outside of QB) should also take a major step forward. Really the only loss in the whole group is D’Andre Goodwin, and they add one of the top receivers in the country to replace him in Kasen Williams. The tight ends will be young and inexperienced, but it shouldn’t take much to improve on the tight end production from 2010, because there basically wasn’t any.
Outside of the big obvious holes (QB and linebacker) this line up actually looks improved from last year. Hopefully it plays out that way.