In past years, I’ve tried to do position previews before Husky football season kicked off. Usually these previews fizzled out somewhere between the linebackers and the secondary. In an attempt to end this, I have simplified the previews this year. I will be previewing the offense in one post and the defense in the next. I will do a general overview of each side of the ball first and then break down the position groups (although I’m not going to make those all that in-depth). I don’t plan on listing all 90-plus guys on the roster over these but I will try to give an idea of what I think about the starters and the depth at each position. With these things in mind, let’s get started with the offense!
Heading in to 2012, the Husky offense was thought to be a strong point of the team. They had lost their top receivers and one of the great Husky running backs of all time but they had a stud tight-end, a few exciting prospects at running back, a returning offensive line, a decent receiving group, and a Heisman contender at quarterback. Things didn’t exactly go to plan.
Before the season began, the Huskies were already down a few offensive linemen. That continued throughout the season and caused the offense to fall apart. The tight-end was great. A star was found at running back. But, the offensive line couldn’t pass block, a second, third and fourth receiving option was never found, and Keith Price went from a Heisman dark horse to a guy that some people wanted benched. The offense was a disappointment, but it was one that people could make excuses for.
In the spring, the Huskies started to implement a no-huddle offense. This has continued and will be used this season. Apparently, the playbook is close to the same. While they may have simplified it some, Sark has not moved to a spread offense. I will talk about how this affects the defense in the next post but it has yet to be seen how it will affect the offense. If the playbook really hasn’t changed much, I think the offense has a chance to special. Sark has always been good at taking advantage of match-ups on the offensive side and as long as this is the focus of the offense and not just ‘going fast’ I feel confident in what the team can do. The offensive line returns almost everyone and the depth of the whole offense could make running the no-huddle effective.
Position Previews –
Starter – Keith Price (RSr.)
Keith Price was extremely efficient and productive in his first year as a starter in 2011. Last year, he was a shadow of himself. Price couldn’t move around very well, was constantly pressured, and made questionable decisions. His efficiency in the red-zone, which was what made him great in 2011, slipped dramatically. Price seemed to want to be too perfect at times and played scared at other times. I’m hopeful that playing in the no-huddle offense will limit his thinking and get him back to just playing ‘Keith Price’ football. He is only a few touchdown passes short of breaking the UW career record. He’s had an amazing career, regardless of the last two games of 2012. Here’s hoping he gets back to his improvising, accurate ways. I’m glad he’s our quarterback.
The Depth – Cyler Miles (RFr.), Jeff Lindquist (RFr.), Troy Williams (Fr.)
It seems like what is listed above is the pecking order. Miles has separated himself as the backup. He is a good athlete and a play-maker. His weakness seems to be his arm strength. Lindquist came in with Miles and, while he may have fallen behind him now, appears to be in the running for the starting job next year. Jeff is from Mercer Island and has a stronger arm but maybe not the big play ability of Miles. Williams is a true freshman and was highly recruited around the country. He is mobile and said to throw the best ball out of all of the quarterbacks (maybe not the most accurate, but the strongest and best spiral). Expect Williams to redshirt unless everything falls apart. Unlike last year, the quarterback depth appears to be in solid shape and they seem to be capable backups.
The Starters – Bishop Sankey (Jr.), FB Psalm Wooching (RFr.)
As I said earlier, Sankey was the surprise of last year. He ran for 1,439 yards after entering the year as a co-starter. After Jesse Callier went down in the opener with an ACL tear, Sankey took over the duties full-time. Sankey ran hard and became a great back. As long as he stays healthy, there is nothing to worry about at this position.
Wooching will play fullback for the team this year. He redshirted last year and has had a fine camp. I’m not sure how much the fullback will be utilized in this offense but when the play calls for it, Psalm will be the guy.
The Depth – Dwayne Washington (RFr.), Jesse Callier (RFr.), Deontae Cooper (RFr.), Lavon Coleman (Fr.), Ryan McDaniel (RFr.)
Again, this is the order I imagine the depth chart goes. Washington has been very good in the spring and fall practices but he has yet to see game action. He runs hard and is another physical back. Callier is coming back from the ACL tear and doesn’t seem to have found his burst yet. If he does, he could be a dangerous weapon like he was in his first two years when spelling Polk. I’m treating Deontae Cooper like I would treat a pitcher throwing a perfect game. Coleman has had a good camp. He’s a true freshman and a bigger guy. I expect him to redshirt. McDaniel is also coming off an injury and doesn’t figure much into the playing time this year.
The Starters – Kasen Williams (Jr.), DiAndre Campbell (RJr.), Jaydon Mickens (So.)
The receivers struggled a little bit last year. Kasen was good but not dominant. Over the off-season, reports have said that him and Price have developed a very good chemistry. Campbell and Mickens have both flashed good things but have proven to be inconsistent. That hasn’t changed through camp. The hope is that Kasen turns into a dominant player. Campbell should be a good compliment to him. Mickens is a burner in the slot and if he doesn’t produce there are guys behind him who might.
The Depth – Kevin Smith (Sr.), John Ross (Fr.), Damore’ea Stringfellow (Fr.), Marvin Hall (So.), Kendyl Taylor (So.), Antavius Sims (Sr.), Darrell Daniels (Fr.)
The depth has really improved over last year. It sounds as if Kevin Smith is much healthier than last year. If that is true he is a great asset. John Ross is in the mold of Mickens but he may have an even bigger burst. Ross could play in to the return game as well as wind up starting in the slot. Stringfellow is a big guy who will play on the outside. I don’t know how much of an impact he will have this year but he’s had some nice moments in camp and looks to be a great player in the future. I don’t think he’ll redshirt. Hall is another burner in the slot. Kendyl Taylor played running back and receiver last year. He might do both again this year but he hasn’t been very high on the depth chart. Hall and Taylor could possibly redshirt although I don’t expect them to. Antavius Sims is probably nothing more than a depth player but he’s had a few nice moments during the spring and fall practices. Darrell Daniels is another big freshmen guy who isn’t quite as polished as the others. I think he will redshirt this year.
The Starter – Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jr.)
If he’s not an All-American at the end of the season, it will be a disappointment. It’s not often that you can say that about a guy. ASJ may be hurt or suspended for the first game but that doesn’t change the expectation that he could put up the best numbers for any tight end in school history. ASJ is the most talented guy to put on a Husky jersey in at least a decade.
The Depth – Michael Hartvigson (RJr.), Josh Perkins (RSo.), David Ajamu (Fr.)
The depth behind Austin is fine. We hope that we don’t have to see any of these guys start the first game but they will be okay if they have to. Hartvigson has been okay but has not lived up to the hype of when he came in to the program. Perkins is a converted receiver who is said to be a good pass catcher, although he may lack in blocking. Ajamu hopefully gets to redshirt but he might see the field (a lot of that depends on if ASJ plays the first game or not). Out of all of the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, tight end is the one with the least depth.
The Starters – LT Ben Riva (RS Jr.), LG Dexter Charles (RS So.), C Mike Criste (RS Jr.), RG Colin Tanigawa (RS Jr.), RT Micah Hatchie (RS Jr.)
These are the probable starters. Ben Riva and Hatchie have switched places from last season and Riva has drawn rave reviews over the off-season. Charles and Riva were, in my opinion, our best linemen last season so they should make a strong left side. Hatchie moves over to the center position after playing some guard last year. Tanigawa has been injury plagued for much of his career but for now, he is the starting right guard. Tanigawa (nicknamed Panda) definitely has the talent, it’s just a question of his health. Hatchie should benefit from the move to right tackle. The whole line struggled mightily last year but the hope is that the experience and everyone playing all together through camp makes the line take a big step forward.
The Depth – G James Atoe (RJr.), T Jake Eldrenkamp (RFr.), C Siosifa Tufunga (RS So.), G Shane Brostek (So.), G Erik Kohler (RJr.), G Michael Kneip (RFr.), T Ross Dolbec (RSo.), G Cory Fuavai (RFr.), G Taylor Hindy (RFr.), T Coleman Shelton (Fr.), G/T Andrew Kirkland (Fr.), C Dane Crane (Fr.)
I’ve tried to list all of these guys in order of how likely they are to play. Atoe started a few games last year and is quite likely to see some time each game. Eldrenkamp is from Bellevue and is the backup left tackle. While he figures to be a decent player, the depth at the tackle positions is really lacking. The backup center is Siosifa Tufunga. He hasn’t played much but he seems capable. If Erik Kohler gets back from the foot injury he has suffered, which seems doubtful right now, he could also play backup center or guard. Brostek started a few games last year as a true freshman but wasn’t great. Some hope he may redshirt this year but if he doesn’t he’s quality depth. Michael Kneip is another capable backup guard. After that, things are relatively unknown. Dolbec has yet to see game action and he has run with the twos all camp (at right tackle). Again, I don’t know how well this team could handle an injury at tackle. Fuavai and Hindy probably aren’t ready for action and hopefully the Dawgs aren’t in a place where they have to use them. All of the freshmen should be able to redshirt and may help contribute next year. While the depth is much better than last year, there is a glaring hole at tackle. The line could handle an injury or two (plus the already sustained Kohler injury) but any more than that and the team could be in trouble.
I’ll be back with the defensive side of the ball in the next couple of days. Thanks for reading. Go Dawgs!