Fall Camp Review: Returning Players

With Washington's fall camp officially concluded, we at Dawgman.com thought we'd take a look at several of the returning players who stuck out and which ones will need to do some work over the next couple of weeks of practice to get into the mix for playing time this fall...

LB John Timu (Sr.) - The fourth-year senior from Long Beach (Ca.) had a quietly solid camp. He didn't do anything that just grabbed your attention, but he was always in position and he definitely is one of the leaders on defense. He can drop into coverage well and he's gotten much better as a form-tackler, so the expectation is he will have another big season in the middle of for the Dawgs this fall.


LB Shaquille Thompson (Jr.) - Thompson was another player who had a solid camp, but didn't really wow you with his play. The veteran from Sacramento (Ca.) has become much more vocal this fall and it's shown on the field. He's put himself into a position to possibly leave early for the NFL if he has a big season and, while fans and coaches alike would miss having him around for his senior season, that could only mean great things for the defense in 2014.


QB Jeff Lindquist (RS So.) - I will stand up and admit it, I definitely doubted Lindquist and I was pretty vocal about it, but all the third-year signal-caller did was go out and appear to start pulling away from the other quarterbacks. Lindquists best attribute is probably his ability to make things happen with his legs, but in Saturday's scrimmage he showed nice touch and, aside from two bad over-throws early on, he was on the money with all of his throws.


DT Danny Shelton - This defense, as Kim Grinolds said recently, is Danny Shelton's defense. They are definitely emulating their leader and bringing the pain. Shelton won't put up big stats because that isn't his game, but what he brings is an immovable object in the middle of the defensive line and that allows his teammates, specifically the linebackers, to run free and make plays.


S Brandon Beaver (RS So.) - Beaver looked great in the spring and he's continued his solid play into fall camp. He's adequate in coverage, so you don't lose a lot when he's asked to drop down of a slot receiver in man-to-man, but he's at his best in zone, sitting back and waiting for the ball to be released. His ball-hawking skills were lauded by those who watched practice and he came down with at least four and he could have had several more.

OL Colin Tanigawa (RS Sr.) - Is "Panda" really going to start over a Rimington award finalist in Mike Criste? It sure looks that way. There isn't much of a drop-off at all up front with Tanigawa and offensive line coach (Chris) Strausser noted that he loves his smarts and tenacity. Rather than being a criticism of Crist, this appears to be a recognition of what Tanigawa has been doing this offseason and during camp and he appears set to hold down the pivot starting against Hawaii.


WR Jaydon Mickens (Jr.) - Mickens was iffy as a freshman, but he recovered with a big sophomore campaign last fall. Now, as a three-year veteran starter, the talented wideout really seems to have found his stride. He made plays consistently and was deadly in space during fall camp and his playmaking ability will be a huge asset for the Huskies this fall.


QB Cyler Miles (RS So.) - Miles has everything you want in a quarterback, from a physical standpoint, except for one thing -- arm strength. We don't want to belabor the point, but quick hitches to wideouts aren't going to be his forte. Where he's at his best is on the run, being a threat with both his arm and his legs. Miles has great touch, but his accuracy wasn't there this fall in the times we saw him and he's still playing catch up, according to both head coach Chris Petersen and offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith, so it's hard to say if he has a legitimate shot at starting in week two vs. Eastern Washington as long as the starter for the Hawaii game is healthy and plays well.


CB Jermaine Kelly (RS Fr.) - Kelly has really come on the past couple of practices and looks entrenched as the starter at corner opposite Marcus Peters. Kelly bring some physicality to the position, evidenced by his hard hit on Jesse Callier in Saturday's scrimmage, and he's really improved as a cover-man. He should be the guy who takes over as the top corner on the team once Peters leave after the season (unless he shocks the world and returns for his seior campaign).


BUCK/LB Hauoli Kikaha (Sr.) - With a young secondary behind him, Kikaha's pass-rush skills are definitely needed. This fall he's been hard on the offense, making minced meat of the players he's faced. Kikaha runs really, really well and he's got a nose of the ball. He's also super-physical at the line of scrimmage and he brings an intense attitude on every play.


K Cameron Van Winkle (So.) - Yeah, I know he doesn't play a marquee position, but with the loss of Travis Coons (who could be in the line to win a spot with the Tennessee Titans this fall) to graduation, whoever winds up at kicker will have huge shoes to fill. On Saturday, the sophomore from the Snoqualmie area hit all of his attempts going eight for eight with long of 42. The way the ball explodes off of his foot and his kickoffs looked good, albeit, two of them went deep into the endzone with a wind at his back.


WR/TE Darrell Daniels (So.) - All I can say is "WOW". Daniels had a great camp. He got open consistently, he caught pretty much everything thrown his way and he's a physical blocker and blew up a couple of defensive players to put an exclamation point on it.


LB Sean Constantine (RS Fr.) - While Timu is set as the starter inside, Constantine appears poised to push for some playing time when the team needs to go to two inside linebackers. The freshman from Bellevue dropped back into coverage well and showed soft hands while bringing in an interception and he also had a fumble recovery in a goal line drill. He'll make his hay on special teams this fall and then he will battle for the starting spot inside next spring and summer.


P Korey Durkee - Looks to have really had the light bulb go on. He was blocked on Saturday by Budda Baker, but for the most part, Durkee has gotten the ball off quickly and he's really started to place the ball well too. Durkee had a 70-yard punt on Saturday and that is definitely an added bonus, but more importantly is how fast he gets the kick off and how consistently he places the ball well for the coverage units.


CB Travell Dixon - Dixon recently said that the "lion has been unleashed" and he that seems like an apt statement for the former JUCO All-American. He's playing much faster and using his size and physicality to cause serious problems for wideouts. He isn't the athlete that Kelly is, so it appears that he isn't going to wind up starting, but in the Pac 12, the third (and a lot of times the fourth) corner always seems to get quite a few reps in every game.


RB Dwayne Washington - The Huskies have long been looking for a big back and it appears they've found him in Washington, a 6'2", 225-pounder with speed and athleticism. The third-year player is still learning how to play tailback -- he was a wide receiver in high school -- so he still needs to work on his pad-level and leg drive a bit, but there's no question he's got big play written all over him every time he touches the ball.


OL Mike Criste - As we mentioned in our remarks on Tanigawa, it isn't that Criste hasn't played well, but more of a nod to how Tanigawa is playing as to why Criste is taking snaps with the second team. Criste isn't super-athletic and while he's a tenacious player, he wasn't able to match the attitude that Tanigawa brings to the table. Criste will play a lot this year, but he's got a battle on his hands to earn a starting spot.


OL James Atoe - After slimming down to relatively svelte 340 pounds when Steve Sarkisian was here, Atoe has gotten back up to 380 pounds and he is just a mammoth individual. Atoe really has come on since the spring and appears set at right guard. Even with the added size, he appears to be moving well and hasn't struggled as much is space as he had previously.


DT Elijah Qualls - Qualls still seems to be about a year away from being a real integral part of Washington's plans up front. Make no mistake, he's going to play this year and he'll likely play a lot considering that, next to Shelton, he's the only other true nose tackle type on the roster that isn't a freshman (Greg Gaines and Vita Vea). When he is able to diagnose a play, Qualls has the athleticism and size to wreak havoc up front, but he still seems to be thinking rather than just cutting it loose and playing.


QB Troy Williams - I've been pretty vocal in my support of Williams since seeing him in the spring of 2013 and I still think he's got the highest upside of all of the quarterbacks. However, things just haven't clicked for him in the offense and he still seems to be thinking a lot. Just judging by what we've seen from Williams, Lindquist and Miles, the redshirt freshman signal-caller seems to be third in the pecking order right now. The coaches continue to say, at least publicly, that they "aren't there yet" as far as narrowing things down a bit at the position, but to the naked eye, it's pretty obvious Williams still has a ways to go before he can truly challenge for playing time.

LB Azeem Victor - This past Saturday, while there were many standout performances, none were better than Victor's. The redshirt freshman showed a lot of physicality, cracking a couple ball-carriers and then dropping into coverage and nearly coming up with a spectacular interception. While he appears to be a third-teamer at linebacker, Victor should be a huge contributor on special teams where his reckless abandon will be well suited.


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