2006 Record: (5-7, 3-6)
Coach: Tyrone Willingham (7-16 at Washington, 72-67-1 overall)
Starters Returning: 12 (6 offense, 6 defense, 0 specialists)
Starting Specialists Returning: None
For starters: Coach Tyrone Willingham has compiled a 7-16 record over his two years at Washington. That is not exactly what he and the folks in Seattle have hoped for, but the rebuilding process is still chugging along. There are some talented players emerging, but that might not help too much again this season.
Offense: The player that has fans most excited is Jake Locker. The dual threat sophomore quarterback is the future of the program and the future might as well be now. However, senior Carl Bonnell, who took over for the departed Isaiah Stanback and led the team to a victory in the Apple Cup last year, will be waiting in the wings in case something should go wrong with Locker.
Bonnell found his favorite target during the last game of the season in big play threat Marcel Reece. The junior college transfer struggled to adapt to the level of play early in the year, but he is poised for a breakout season if he can build off his late success. Led by Anthony Russo, the Huskies have an extremely experienced group of wide receivers.
The experience at running back is another story. Louis Rankin is the lone returning option after leading the team with 666 yards on 142 carries last season. Rankin is a big play rusher, but finding somebody to help out in short yardage situations is a necessity. Washington only played seven different players on the line and three were in the trenches for every single snap. With Juan Garcia, Chad Macklin and Ben Ossai returning, the Huskies will have some proven commodities on the line, but there will be some new faces battling for playing time as well and the group needs to become a cohesive unit as quickly as possible.
Defense: The front seven was nothing special last year, but with three of the four starters on the line returning, it could be better this time around. End Greyson Gunheim is a quarterback’s living nightmare. The 6-5, 265 pound senior tallied six sacks and 12 tackles for loss last year. The linebackers have Tahj Bomar and Scott White to replace and that leaves Dan Howell as the lone experienced player. Donald Butler, E.J. Savannah, Chris Stevens and Trenton Tuiasosopo all showed signs of potential off the bench in 2006 and will be asked to play a much bigger role this year.
The problems are in the secondary and the team really needs the front four to get pressure on the quarterback to take the strain off of the inexperienced secondary. Jason Wells and Roy Lewis return as starters to a unit that gave up over 240 yards a game in the air. Mesphin Forrester, who started a couple games last year, will likely take over the strong safety position this season. Finding another corner and some depth for the entire secondary has been a priority throughout the spring, but there are not very many options.
The Bottom Line: The Huskies have some problems on both sides of the ball. The offense has potential under quarterback Locker, but he is still an unproven player who will need time to develop. If everything goes well, the offense will be fine, but when the word potential is thrown out so many times, it is bound to cause some troubles. The defense is no different. The front four is the only proven unit and they can only do so much to help out the back seven.
WR Marcel Reece is Locker's favorite receiver.