Spring Snippet #3

In installment #3, I took a look at the offensive depth chart and tried to list what I would expect to see from each position both in terms of potential as well as scenarios where injury or attrition could occur. I also try to forecast when the team will be at relative optimal potential at each position.

I realize that his is pure speculation, and hopefully you do too. These are the most fun articles to write because you get to just let your feelings and observations flow and let you the reader banter them about as either shite or good fodder for discussion.

First and foremost, I think it is apparent that the Huskies will get back to a physical running attack in 2011. That will be music to many of the old timer's ears (does 48 constitute an old-timer? If so, include me in that herd), and may hearken back to the years of the "pro I set" that Don James used for many years to great effect.

Some of the most dominant James teams utilized guys like Joe Steele, Ron "Cookie" Jackson, Jacque Robinson, and Greg Lewis lining up behind a fullback and bashing defenses for ugly but extremely meaningful yards. I see Chris Polk in this mold.

I left out Napoleon Kaufman, Beno Bryant, and Cory Dillon because they ran out of a lot of one-back sets, but the results were similar. A punishing rushing attack that could be counted on to keep the clock running and keep the defense fresh.

For the Huskies to throw more than 30 times in any game (with the exception being if they are trailing early by a good margin) would make about as much sense as the Husky Marching Band picking up the sheet music to REO Speedwagon and performing a rousing version of "Take It On The Run."

"Heard it from a friend who…heard it from a friend who….heard it from another…".

God, just shoot me now.

Sorry for the digression. Back to the post spring depth chart.
OFFENSE

The quarterback position appears to be in good hands. It would make me more nervous if the stable of running backs weren't so strong behind them and if the offensive line wasn't as experienced as it is. Keith Price will be more than capable of handing the ball to #1, of throwing high percentage passes to the tight end, the full back, and when needed, throwing intermediate balls to Kearse, Aguilar, and Smith.

And when he needs to, Price can tuck it and do serious damage to defenses. Pac 12 Offensive Coordinators will soon find out.

Nick Montana is a capable back up. He needs work on his delivery and needs to be able to play a little quicker, but his progress is good to see. Who knows? By fall, he may show even more of these and close the gap with Price. Price's ability to gash defenses with his legs will keep him in the lead for the starting role, but both will play.

Chris Polk is the main cog in the Washington offense. He should get 20 carries per game and will do a lot with them. He never goes down on first contact and his vision is awesome. He takes it inside and delivers shots but he can also get outside when needed. He is a smart, solid, and a not-flashy-get-it-done type of workhorse an offense with a young quarterback needs.

Jesse Callier is a nice change up from Polk and will give him good rest as well as some high quality carries. Johri Fogerson showed good burst between the tackles, and reportedly he wasn't at full strength. If he wasn't, he's getting closer. Deontae Cooper I was not able to see do any contact work, but he looks like a blur when he's cutting. Wow can that kid get up field quickly.

Between Price around the corner and on bootlegs, Polk between the tackles and on pitches, Callier on end-arounds and counter draw plays, Fogerson on screens and flares, and Cooper on who knows what, the running game has a lot of capable weapons.

I did not see Cooper run with contact as they kept him out for precautionary reasons, but in the reps he did take, he looks scary. He is as shifty as Callier but may be a click faster. That could be some fun to watch in 2011.

Polk has been an absolute workhorse in his time at Washington, but should he go down to injury, expect a little drop off but not a great deal. Callier can stick his nose between the tackles when he needs to.

The fullback position was reevaluated by Sarkisian this spring in an effort to have some productivity from that spot. As a result, Zach Fogerson moved up and looks like he will be the one called on when the down and distance calls for the tough yard up the middle or a screen pass out in the flat. Fogerson's strength is getting yards, though. When Sark needs a strong blocker, it looks like Jonathan Amosa will be called on to pave the way.

The guys in front of them will need to open the holes, obviously. There are four spots that look pretty well set and the fifth has some candidates with good talent and potential to fill the spot.

At weakside tackle, Senior Senio Kelemete will be the workhorse. Unless he gets dinged or the Huskies are ahead comfortably in the game, I don't expect him to take one snap off in 2011. He will match up against the defense's best pass rusher and be expected to shut them down by himself. He has the most experience of any linemen and should have a big final season that will set him up for the NFL.

Inside, Erik Kohler and Colin Porter could very well be the guards. That is one talented duo. Kohler's strength is technique and smarts while Porter is a beast who excels in moving his man out of the one or two gap. The idea of Polk running behind these two really excites me.

If Kohler is moved out to the tackle position opposite Kelemete, look for newcomer Colin Tanigawa to get the nod at the guard spot opposite Porter. Tanigawa isn't the road grater Porter is yet but he is very talented and his potential is unlimited.

Drew Schaefer is in the pivot, and calls the shots. He is not flashy but rather cerebral. He is rarely in the wrong spot so he is tough to move out of the way because he gets his feet set so quickly. With Porter, Koehler, or Tanigawa on either side of him, it's a very solid front three on the interior.

The other tackle position is probably going to determine how successful this line will be. The coaches have high hopes for Ben Riva at that spot. He was the offensive lineman that moved up the most this spring before going down with an injury, and looks to have earned the top right tackle job heading into fall camp. If he cannot perform at a high enough level, watch for Koehler to slide outside into this spot and Tanigawa to move up into the starting lineup at guard.

It is a pretty darn solid six-man mix the Huskies have up front. And three kids knocking on the door to jump into that mix are Mike Criste, Micah Hatchie, and James Atoe. Criste and Hatchie look nearly ready while Atoe is not too far behind. In another year these three should be very ready to make big time contributions, and hopefully they will be given this time to develop as opposed to having to jump into the fray because of injuries.

The receiving corps is deep, talented, and is only going to get better. Jermaine Kearse will lead the group and expect a huge senior campaign from him. Devin Aguilar returns as well to provide good size and much improved hands in the slot. The other guy that has made huge gains is Kevin Smith. He will be a nightmare for teams this year when he finds himself in the open field. He doesn't look fast…until he's pulling away from you and headed toward the goal line. The depth behind them is great, too. Cody Bruns and James Johnson both had nice springs and are ready to contribute, while DiAndre Campbell is developing nicely. Dick Baird feels Campbell may have as much potential as any of the receivers on the roster to have a big year. He is tall and beginning to fill out. Then Kasen Williams arrives in the fall, making this group even deeper. Price and Montana should enjoy throwing to these guys.

And the coverage on the wide outs should be somewhat looser, given the Huskies will actually have a tight end threat in 2011. Austin Seferian-Jenkins is the real deal, and he will be an impact player from game one. Defenses will have to account for him or he will hurt them in a bad way. Michael Hartvigson is also poised to contribute but Seferian-Jenkins has the ability to stretch the field vertically from the middle so well that it will change the way defenses play Washington overnight.

The offense will be different than it was from the Jake Locker era because, to be honest, there will be more weapons available. Sarkisian can call more high percentage throws and set up defenses for some big runs on counter movements and zone blocking schemes that take advantage of linebackers cheating towards the tight end or fullback out of the backfield.

I don't think it will be a big play offense, but I do think that with the experience on the line and the best tailback in the conference between the tackles, they will get the job done and move the chains.

Spring situational grades by position:

Current QB situation: B-
Future QB optimum: 2012 (Jr. Price, So. Montana, FR-RS Brown)

Current RB situation: A
Future RB optimum: NOW

Current OL situation: B
Future OL Optimum: 2013 (Sr. Kohler, Jr. Hatchie, Sr. Porter, Jr. Tanigawa, Jr. Riva)

Current TE situation: B
Future TE Optimum: 2012 (So. Seferian-Jenkins, So. Hartvigson)

Current WR situation: A
Future WR Optimum: NOW
http://washington.scout.com/2/1070862.htmlSpring Snippet #2
http://washington.scout.com/2/1070472.htmlSpring Snippet #1

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