Post-Spring Review: Offensive Line

Since the turn of the century, the Huskies have had only four offensive linemen drafted, but as we look at how the unit is shaping up after the conclusion of spring football, the pieces appear to be falling into place and that drought could be over as soon as next year. However, in order for this unit to realize its full potential, a couple of players need to get healthy...

When the Huskies took the field at the start of spring practice, it quickly became apparent that the number one offensive line will likely look like this – Senio Kelemete at left tackle; Erik Kohler at left guard; Drew Schaefer at center; Colin Porter at right guard; and Ben Riva at right tackle - provided everyone remains healthy.

Kelemete and Riva both went down with foot injuries that could linger into the start of fall camp and that could portend some re-alignments as the season approaches.

As a senior and three-year starter along the offensive line, Kelemete was named a captain for the upcoming season. He has the athleticism and style to be one of the best in the conference if he recovers from his plantar fasciitis injury.

Riva looked to be swimming a little against the quicker pass-rushers – Josh Shirley in particular – but started to "get it" as spring went along, only to go down with an injury to his foot during the final week of practice.

Inside, Kohler and Porter are two huge and athletic players who can grind it out and pave the way for the backs. Porter especially looks to have All-Conference potential if he keeps progressing.

Schaefer is more cerebral, using angles and his quick feet to get the upper hand rather than mashing his opponent in his second season in the pivot. His only struggles come when he is asked handle a nose tackle on his own, but he and the coaches are aware of that and it has been a focus since the conclusion of the 2010 season.

While the first unit stayed for the most part intact while they were healthy, two players who saw a boatload of reps when Riva and Kelemete went down were Colin Tanigawa and Dan Kanczugowski.

Tanigawa took over at left guard for Kohler when the latter moved to right tackle with the first unit and Kanczugowski spelled Schaefer at center.

Both could find their way into more playing time with good summers or if the injuries to Kelemete and Riva linger.

Besides those two, Skyler Fancher is also in the mix at right tackle, but he appeared over-matched at times in pass-rush drills and should only be considered a stop-gap replacement if needed.

Of the remaining three youngsters who redshirted last season, Micah Hatchie appears the most ready to see playing time, getting a number of reps at left tackle with the second unit during the spring. However, if you go by who replaced Kelemete when he went down (Kohler), it appears Hatchie is at least a year away from being a heavy contributor.

Mike Criste and James Atoe both showed flashes of potential this spring, but both appear at least a year or two away from challenging for playing time.

Nick Wood who is entering his fifth season with Washington and missed all of spring with an injury, but even when healthy he is mainly a prep team player and won't see much in the way of playing time.

In February, Washington signed two offensive linemen who will join the team this summer.

Stanwood's Dexter Charles is an athletic prospect who is projected to wind up at tackle, but he could also find himself inside if the Huskies need him there. He's athletic and he's got a great frame.

Charles also attended pretty much every spring practice and spent a lot of time around Montlake in April.

Siosifa Tufunga who hails from Jordan High School in Long Beach, California, will come in and learn the center and guard positions.

He's a gritty player who has the smarts to play the pivot and the size and strength necessary to handle interior defensive lineman one-on-one and could be a mainstay in the lineup down the road.

If the offensive line can come together and remain relatively healthy, this is a unit that could really surprise. However, depth is still a major concern as the primary backups appear to be players who haven't seem much, if any, playing time at the Pac 12 level.

Depth Chart

Left Tackle
Senio Kelemete (Sr.)
Micah Hatchie (RS Fr.)

Left Guard
Colin Tanigawa (RS Fr.) or
Erik Kohler (So.)
Michael Criste (RS Fr.)

Drew Schaefer (RS Jr.)
Dan Kanczugowski (RS Jr.)

Right Guard
Colin Porter (So.)r
James Atoe (RS Fr.)
Nick Wood (RS Sr.)

Right Tackle
Erik Kohler (So.) or
Ben Riva (RS Fr.)
Skyler Fancher (RS Sr.) Top Stories