Tag Archives: Vonzell McDowell

UW Huskies Defensive Preview

In 2009, the Husky defense was frustratingly inconsistent.  Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Donald Butler, possibly its two best players, both graduated, but there is a lot of hope the defense will be greatly improved in 2010.  This is due partly to a dominating end to last season, holding WSU and Cal to 10 points in the final two games, but it’s also based on the potential maturation of a young group.

Defensive End

Starters:

Everette Thompson:  Thompson sounds like he’s recovered from an offseason achilles injury just in time, and stands to be one of the most important pieces of the defense.  A highly touted recruit, he’s spent time at tackle as well.  He’s bigger than most Husky D ends in recent memory, which will hopefully aid in the run defense.  It’s even more vital that he contribute in replacing some of Te’o-Nesheim’s record-number sacks.

Talia Crichton:  A true sophomore, Crichton played more than anyone likely anticipated last year, with decent results.  Hard to say what to expect from him, but coaches have been impressed with his improvement this fall.  He seems to be more of a pass rusher, which this defense desperately needs.

Depth: Kalani Aldrich, De’shon Matthews, Hau’oli Jamora, Josh Shirley.  Aldrich is trying to recover from knee surgery, but has decent potential if he can get back all the way.  He’d have contended for a starting spot if not for the injury.  Matthews is a former big time recruit who’s never really made an impact.  He has one last shot and is in position for a lot of minutes as the number one back-up.  Jamora and Shirley are true freshman.  Jamora is in the two-deeps and will play.  Shirley is more heralded, but joined the team late and seems to be having a tough transition to end from high school linebacker.  He’s likely to redshirt, but if he progresses and they’re needing a speed rusher, who knows.

Analysis:  This is one of the toughest positions on the team to call.  There’s potential, to be sure, but the only one who inspires real confidence is Thompson, and he’s coming off major surgery.  This group has to get pressure on the quarterback this year.  Hopefully they’ll be aided in that by an improved interior of the line.

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Huskies Practice Report – 4/13/2010

It was a beautiful day over at Montlake today.  The wind was blowing a little bit but the sun was enough to keep me and a few hundred other fans warm.  I showed up about 40 minutes late but I only missed a few drills and stretching.  The team is entering its third week of spring practice.  In the past years spring practice had stretched over 4 weeks but this year they stretched it out over 5 to keep the players fresh.  This idea seems to be working.  Guys are staying healthy and the team doesn’t appear to be tired at all.  There have been no significant injuries so far and several guys returned from minor injuries today.  De’Shon Matthews and Cody Bruns had each sat out the last couple of practices but both saw time today.  Nate Williams also practiced at full strength today.  D’Andre Goodwin remains sidelined with a hamstring injury but it doesn’t seem very serious.

The focus of today seemed to be red-zone offense and defense.  This is an area where the Huskies offense struggled last year; I had nightmares of the Notre Dame game while typing that sentence.  The offense and defense both had their moments today.  Specifically, it seemed as if the secondary had a very good day.  I think that group is going to be a strength next year.  These guys go up against one of the best passing attacks in the pac-10 in Jake Locker and a good group of receivers every day and usually hold their own.  I’ll have more on a few players in the secondary after the jump.

The quarterbacks were pretty much how they are every practice.  Jake Locker was great and the other two were mediocre.  Keith Price struggled early in drills but got a little better as the day progressed.  Montana’s always learning and he’s a little slower than the other two but you can see the talent there.

The running backs had decent days.  Deontae Cooper had a 75 yard run for a touchdown and that was probably the play of the day. 

Ryan Tolar got quite a bit of time at backup center today (he’s also working with the starters as guard).  I guess they just want him to be able to play everywhere or maybe they were giving Greg Christine a break.  The starting offensive and defensive lines are usually pretty even but the second team defensive line generally has their way with second team offensive line.  The walk-on defensive end Peter Follmer may actually have an impact on this team.  He made a few plays today and is really strong. 

To end the practice Sark gave the offense the ball and the defense’s 20 and let the starters go at it.  The offense got the ball down to the 2 yard line and then was stopped on 3 different plays.  When the coaches decided they were going to go for it all of the backups came running onto the field and surrounded the play.  They started cheering and yelling encouragement to the players they were backing up.  Deontae Cooper ran the ball in for a touchdown and all the offensive guys ran and tackled him in the end zone.  Then the offense went for a two point conversion and the defense stopped them.  This is what the staff has instilled in this team, competition.  It was a really cool moment and there were many smiles going around as the players left the field.

My players of the day after the jump. Continue reading

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Huskies Position Overview – Cornerbacks

We get to move away from the weakness of the defense, the front seven, to the strength, the secondary.  It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say that the Huskies secondary should be pretty good, but that changes this.  Here’s my starters and backups:

Starters:

  • Desmond Trufant, 6-0, 180, SO.
  • Adam Long, 5-10, 170, RS SO.

Desmond Trufant has the potential to be one of the best cornerbacks UW has ever had.  He has started his first game on campus and was a pleasure to watch mature throughout last season.  He was a little scary to watch in the first few games but then became the Huskies best corner by mid-season.  It only makes sense that Trufant will get better with experience.  It will be fun to watch Desmond this spring to see how a year in the weight program has affected him.  He should be a lockdown corner for the Dawgs for the next three years.

Adam Long red-shirted his first year here and then took the starting job from Quinton Richardson halfway through last season.  He was recruited because of his speed and is one of the fastest players on the team.  Long had exceptional games against WSU and Cal to end the year.  During those last two games he was UW’s best cornerback.  He will have to compete this spring in order to hold off Richardson.  Long does lack weight and hopefully he gained some muscle this offseason while keeping his speed.  I really like Adam (not just because we have the same last name) and think he has just as much potential as Trufant.  If he continues to progress, Long may turn into an NFL caliber corner.

Backups:

  • Quinton Richardson, 6-0, 203, JR.
  • Vonzell McDowell, 5-8, 180, SR. 
  • Anthony Boyles, 6-3, 200, RS SO.
  • Anthony Gobern, 5-11, 185, SO.

At the start of last year, Richardson was U-Dub’s best cornerback.  He got burned on a couple of plays, suffered a few injuries, and lost confidence.  The combination of that and the progression of Trufant and Long  moved Richardson to backup.  Quinton is a big physical corner who was moved from his original position at safety.  He can tackle pretty well and is decent in one-on-one coverage.  I hope Richardson has an excellent spring and challenges for a starting job.  He is a good corner and will be a very valuable backup if the depth chart stays the way it does.

Someday I might devote a full post to Vonzell McDowell because the truth is, I feel sorry for him.  To put a long story short, Vonzell was a starter as true freshman and was solid his first two games in wins against Syracuse and Boise State.  He even had a game-clinching against the Broncos.  The next game was against Ohio State and in a close first half McDowell was burnt for a touchdown against a good Buckeye receiving group.  After that play, Tyrone Willingham (I threw up in my mouth after I typed that name) benched McDowell for the rest of the game and most of the season.  Why you would bench a freshman after one mistake is beyond me, but a lot of things Tyrone did were beyond me.  Predictabl,y McDowell lost a ton of confidence because of this benching and he hasn’t been the same since that fateful play.  I’m not suggesting that McDowell was going to have an amazing career, Trufant and Long possess more talent than Vonzell did as a freshman, but now we can only wonder what could have been.  As it sits now, Vonzell is a decent backup but nothing more.  I’m sorry that Tyrone was your coach Vonzell.

Boyles is an interesting case.  He came in as a highly touted wide receiver but didn’t grasp on to the offense and suffered from inconsistency.  No one questioned his talent but he just couldn’t pull it all together.  The coaches moved him to cornerback at mid-season last year so he wouldn’t have to think so much.  They like his raw ability and he had a couple of good practices.  Boyles really needs to have a great spring to crack this rotation because the guys in front of him have more experience and have quite a bit of talent.  Anthony Gobern hasn’t seen the field too much but was supposedly a solid scout team player last year.  He may progress into a good corner.  Like Boyles, Gobern needs to have a really good spring in order to crack the rotation.

Overall Position:  This is more depth and talent at cornerback than the Huskies have had in years.  Trufant, Long, and Richardson could all be starters on most pac-10 teams and they have room to grow.  The rest of the backups have a good amount of upside (especially Boyles).  If these guys are able to really grow and become dependable in man-to-man coverage the linebackers will get to bring pressure more.  This is what happened against Cal and WSU.  This is probably the best position on this defense.

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