We’re only five days away from Husky football now, which means I’m not going to go quite as in-depth on these because I want to get most of them done before the first game (and I have other things to write). The Huskies offensive line is the biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball but it doesn’t make me as nervous as many people feel. Sark said last week that this was the best offensive line they’ve had since he took over and I don’t have any reason to not believe him. I won’t have a lot to add about these guys because I don’t know a ton about offensive linemen and their technique.
I think the team will have about 8 offensive linemen who could play and then the rotation will become smaller as the season goes on, I would guess. I’ll talk about those 8 guys and 2 of the true freshmen who are on the verge of playing. Here we go! (I’ll try to list the starters first, as there’s only one position still in question)
LT – Micah Hatchie (RS So.)
It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking to start a season with an unproven left tackle. With that being said, there wasn’t much competition for this job. Hatchie won the spot fairly easily and received almost all of the first team reps all camp long. Micah played some at right tackle last year but never started a game. Scout rated Hatchie as the top recruit from Hawaii when he came out in 2010. This spot will be tested early against LSU and it will be interesting to see if Hatchie holds up.
LG – Colin Tanigawa (RS So.)
Tanigawa started last year before suffering a knee injury in the Oregon State game that kept him out for the rest of the season. He made his way back during camp and participated almost fully the last three weeks. Tanigawa has a hold on the spot, as he played pretty well last year and he should only get better. The only question with him is if the knee will hold up.
C – Drew Schaefer (RS Sr.)
Schaefer is the veteran of the group. He’s played the last four years and has played pretty well. It’s good to have a senior at such a critical position. If Erik Kohler had been healthy all camp, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Schaefer ended up playing at left tackle this year. Watch for that as we go forward, if the line isn’t succeeding.
RG – Erik Kohler (Jr.)
Kohler came in as a highly rated recruit and didn’t red-shirt his first year on campus. He started most of that season and played well for being a true freshman. Last year was a little bit up and down for him but he comes into this season as the second oldest starting lineman. He was injured early in camp but came back last week and has since got more and more work. He’s engaged in the only battle left in the O-line with James Atoe but I expect him to win. If Atoe does win, look for Kohler to move around and play multiple positions. I think the staff feels comfortable with him at every position save left tackle (although they might feel okay about that as well). Edit: Kohler has been named the starter in the depth chart.
RT – Ben Riva (RS So.)
Ben Riva makes the fourth starter out of five who came to U-Dub in the 2010 recruiting class. There are a few more who could be in the rotation as well. Riva is the only guy out of the five who didn’t see a lot of time last year. That makes you wonder if the question marks regarding the offensive line aren’t overblown. Riva comes from O’Dea and was a fairly heralded recruit. He challenged for a spot last year but didn’t play much aside from on PAT attempts. It is a little worrisome that the two starting tackles are unproven, especially considering the early season gauntlet, but the coaches seem to feel fairly comfortable with them. If they didn’t, Kohler would have moved to one of these spots.
The next 5 in line: LG (LT) – Dexter Charles (RS Fr.), RG James Atoe (RS So.), RT Mike Criste (RS So.), C – Siosifa Tufunga (RS Fr.) G Shane Brostek (FR.), Jake Eldrenkamp (FR.)
I don’t have a lot to add about these guys. Charles, Atoe, and Criste will all probably see game action on the offensive line. Tufunga is a large man who could play center if things go really bad. The two true freshmen I list are both probably headed to red-shirt years but they are also the closest to playing out of all the true freshmen. Brotesk is actually on the two-deep so he may play but hopefully he red-shirts.
That’s about all I have to add about these guys. If you have any questions about any of these positions, post them in the comments.
Thanks for reading!