Youth will be served at wideout and tight end

It goes without saying -- Washington's success or failure on offense rests on the broad shoulders of QB Jake Locker. While Locker is the focal point, players like WR D'Andre Goodwin and TE Michael Gottlieb know they have to do their part to help the Husky offense reach its full potential. Heading into camp, they are the most experienced pass-catchers and they know they have a lot to prove...

"Just between last year and this year you have two completely different scenarios," Gottlieb told shortly before the first practice of fall camp. "With the new quarterback (last year) we were trying to spread the offense out a little bit more and we tried some new things that didn't necessarily involve the tight ends and we had five senior receivers who were all really good and they deserved to get the ball.

"This year (the tight end) is probably going to be a focal point just because (Goodwin) and myself are really the only returning receivers with experience so with all the young guys around me I will hopefully play a bigger role in the passing game."

Last year Gottlieb started six games and managed just 12 receptions for 136 yards, so he said, in prepartion for a more active role, he's been working since the winter with Locker on everything.

"I've gotten stronger and I've added a few pounds and I've been running routes like crazy," Gottlieb said. "Starting in the winter all the way through this summer, I've been running routes for Jake doing as much as I can. I've been working on my routes, my timing and just my all around game."

That "all around game" includes blocking, which is where Gottlieb earned his stripes early in his career.

"Blocking is a mentality – you either want to block a guy or you don't," Gottlieb said matter-of-factly. "It's hard to say which one is harder because (catching and blocking) have their intricacies and details that you have to improve on constantly. I wouldn't say one is easier than the other."

Things aren't any easier outside, where Goodwin and Curtis Shaw are the only two returning receivers with a regular season catch.

"Things are coming along for us," Goodwin said when asked about the receiving corps as a whole. "We have a lot of work to do, but we have some really good athletes in here to make plays."

Goodwin is widely considered the fastest Husky, posting forty times in the 4.3's on a consistent basis, but he said this year he's got some competition in the speed department.

"There are a lot of guys on my heels as far as the receivers and then there's Jake," Goodwin said with a chuckle. "The big play is definitely not off my plate, but that's the thing that's great about our offense, you never know who's going to get it with all of our speed and that will be huge for us."

Every receiver will tell you that building a chemistry with his quarterback is a precursor to having a big year and Goodwin has been doing that with Locker since the two came in together in the 2006 season.

"I feel like we started to build our chemistry that first summer and we redshirted together on the scout team," Goodwin said. "This summer we had 11-on-11's so it was game-like and we had seven-on-seven's and we had a chance to get our timing down.

"(Locker) has been working as hard as he can to improve on the things he needs to improve on. As receivers we're trying to work on things to get our timing down so I see things getting better for the upcoming season. It has a lot to do with the receivers, it's not just the quarterback."

With Gottlieb being a senior and Goodwin being the most experienced receiver, both know they have to help some inexperienced, but very talented young players develop quickly in order to keep the offense moving along.

"Coach (Charlie) Baggett has been teaching these guys the right techniques to be able to be ready by August 30th," Goodwin said. "They're hungry and they've been in their playbook and watching film, so they'll be ready."

Players like Jermaine Kearse, Cody Bruns and Jordan Polk as well as slot back Chris Polk have already made an impression on Goodwin.

"Those guys have been making pretty amazing plays right away," Goodwin said. "I believe you'll see them quite a bit out there this season.

"They're all talented and I think they will really help us this year."

At tight end, Gottlieb will have the marquee name from Washington's heralded 2008 class as TE Kavario Middleton tries to figure out how to play as a convetional tight end.

"He's an impressive looking athlete," Gottlieb said, raising his eyebrows. "Just from doing the little bit of work we did together this summer it looks like he's definitely going to have a great career here and he's definitely one of the better athletes I've seen on the football field.

"It's just a matter of how quickly he picks up all the information that will be thrown at him."

How quickly all of the players at the tight end and wide receiver position absorb things and gain the confidence of Locker and the coaches will go a long way in determining how successful the Husky offense will be in 2008. Top Stories