Spring Battles to Watch - Offense

You wouldn't know it after Washington's last game of 2011, but the Huskies have plenty of holes to fill on offense, and this coming spring will have battles o' plenty at a number of positions on that side of the ball. Here's a quick primer of each position that's expected to have some serious competition take place, and who are going to be the players vying for those coveted spots.

Quarterback - With Keith Price entrenched as the starter and Scout.com's No. 1 quarterback class for 2012 waiting in the wings this summer, it'll be up to Derrick Brown and Thomas Vincent to see if one can separate themselves this spring as Price's backup. Brown, who signed with UW a year ago after committing to Utah, should have the advantage - but it won't be as sizable as you might think. Vincent came to Montlake as an early enrollee walk-on from King's, where he was a true dual threat. Brown is by far the bigger quarterback, but you can make an argument that Vincent is not only faster than either Brown or Price, but also has a bigger arm in the passing game. The only thing holding Vincent back from being a scholarship player at the Pac-12 level is size.

Running Back - Deontae Cooper will not be available this spring as the sophomore tries like heck to get back to playing shape after two knee surgeries knocked him out of the last two seasons of play. If he can come back it'll be nothing short of remarkable, but we won't know how close he is until the fall. In the meantime, this position will be a true five-headed monster in the absence of Chris Polk, who declared early for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Jesse Callier, Bishop Sankey, Johri Fogerson, Dezden Petty and Antavius Sims could all lay claim to some piece of the job at least heading into spring. Callier has run for just under 700 yards his first two seasons at UW, and there's no question he'll get the first carry of spring. He's earned it. But sophomore Sankey showed bursts in limited action last year and people are going to be interested in his physical development in the off-season. The same will be true of Fogerson and Petty. Fogerson is coming off a season where an injury forced him to redshirt, and Petty redshirted his true freshman season.

The 'X' Factor here could be Sims, who did his damage at Ventura College on the offensive side of the ball. He was a true dual-threat quarterback and accounted for nearly 3000 yards of total offense his sophomore year, so he knows how to produce. Problem is, he's been out of the game for nearly a year-and-a-half, so how quickly he shakes off the rust will determine how much of a impact he'll make as one of those raw athletes that you can stick pretty much anywhere in UW's multiple offense.

If Washington can find 3-4 go-to players here, it would allow them to redshirt Erich Wilson when he gets to Montlake in the summer - and the more freshmen you can redshirt right from the jump is a good thing.

Fullback - Fullback will be another position this spring where, depending on if they can find the right combination of players and productivity they trust, the UW coaches will be able to redshirt another big athlete in Psalm Wooching.

Based on the end of last year, there are three key candidates competing for the starting fullback spot; Tim Tucker, Jonathan Amosa, and Travon Brooks. For most offenses, the fullback has gone by the way of the Dodo, but for Steve Sarkisian fullback has become an integral part of his offensive identity - not only for what they can do with the ball in their hands running and catching the football, but for what they can do in punishing defenses at the point of attack.

Tucker, a converted linebacker, and Amosa - who has been granted a scholarship the last two years after walking on from Rainier Beach - lead the group here, but Brooks - a walk-on from Oakland - has a chance to impress because of his size (6-foot-2, 246).

Receiver - As it was with Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar last year, the starting receiver spots at UW for 2012 are pretty much laid out; James Johnson, Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams have the inside track, due to their collective experience and productivity. The real battle will come at those next couple spots in the rotation. The No. 4-7 receivers in 2011 combined for over 100 catches for nearly 1300 yards and 14 touchdowns - so those positions will be critical.

DiAndre Campbell looked like he was going to break out last year, but a key drop against Hawaii seemed to put his season on ice a little earlier than expected. Jamaal Jones has reportedly had a fantastic off-season, and those two will be pushed by Joshua Perkins. In the slot, Cody Bruns returns for his senior season, and he will have true frosh Marvin Hall nipping at his heels, as well as Sims - who Steve Sarkisian recently said could get time at the slot back spot, as well as running back.

Offensive Line - Let's face it; the OL is going to be a shambles this spring for Washington - and it's only partly their fault. Their numbers are awful, as the will only have 10 scholarship linemen on their spring roster when it is released Friday. What's worse is that three of those linemen - Colin Porter, Colin Tanigawa and Erik Kohler - are very limited at best, if not out of spring completely. That means Dan Cozzetto will have only seven linemen on scholarship to work with.

The upside of all of this is that every one of them - with the exception of starting center Drew Schaefer - desperately needs as many reps as they can muster as they get themselves ready for fall. Micah Hatchie, Dexter Charles and Ben Riva will get the majority of the meaningful tackle snaps, while James Atoe, Michael Criste and Siosifa Tufunga will do the same at the three interior spots. Ben Teichman and Ross Dolbec are two walk-on lineman from 2011 (both from the Bay Area) that could see a lot more snaps with the depth than they ever did last year.

It's hard to handicap any of the battles along the offensive line, simply because there's not enough bodies to create the kind of competition the coaches would normally want. But with new thoughts and new designs coming in to help keep Price upright and healthy for all of 2012, this spring for the offensive linemen will focus more on teaching and fundamentals anyway.

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