Spring Review: Offense

With the annual Purple and Gold game on Saturday, spring practice has concluded and now the focus turns to offseason workouts and conditioning as the team prepares to rectify what happened during last season's 0-12 record. Some players made big jumps this spring and some still have work to do. Here's a position-by-position look at how things ended up this spring with a grade for the progress made…

Quarterback

Depth Chart: Jake Locker (Jr.); Ronnie Fouch (So.); Taylor Bean (So.)*
Incoming player: Keith Price
* = walk-on

Everyone wanted to see how Locker progressed this spring and to say he was leaps and bounds ahead of where he's been would be an understatement. Not only is he not being used as the primary runner very much, he's staying in the pocket, allowing plays to develop down the field. He was also throwing his timing routes better toward the end of spring practice and the coaching staff as a whole noted the progress he made.

With Locker excelling, Fouch has had to pick up his game as well and he too showed marked improvement throughout the past month. He still tends to throw off his back foot at times and he struggles some when pressured, but he's smart and seems to be picking up the new offense head coach Steve Sarkisian and QB coach/Passing game coordinator Doug Nussmeier are implementing.

Bean continues to be a key scout team player and will give way to Price who will be the third scholarship quarterback on the team once he arrives this summer.

Overall grade coming out of spring: B+


Running Back

Tailback Depth Chart: Chris Polk (RS Fr.); Demitrius Bronson (Fr.); Willie Griffin (So.); Curtis Shaw (So.); Brandon Johnson (Jr.); David Freeman (So.); Brandon Yakaboski (So.)
Fullback Depth Chart: Paul Homer (Sr.); Austin Sylvester (Jr.); Tobias Togi (So.)*
Incoming player: None
* = walk-on

The surprise of the spring was the explosiveness displayed on a daily basis by Bronson, a true freshman who missed qualifying in time to arrive with his class last fall, but he showed up in good shape and ready to go once he stepped on campus. His play helped elevated the play of all the backs that saw time during the spring including Polk who struggled with a leg injury, but came back in time to impress the coaches the final week of spring drills.

Griffin is Washington's most consistent running back. He showed good vision and hands during the spring as well as knowledge of the protection schemes. Shaw is probably the Huskies' fastest tailback and after he shook off the rust of missing last season with some family issues, he was able to show why he was so highly sought-after as a senior coming out of high school.

Johnson, Yakaboski and Freeman both are players who can push for time as well, but none saw extensive time during the spring. Johnson and Yakaboski struggled with injuries while Freeman was mired in the depth.

At fullback, the Huskies are in great shape with Homer and Sylvester as their "one-two punch" and Togi is someone who can fill in when necessary although he's mainly a blocker and not someone who will do much with the ball in his hands.

Overall grade coming out of spring: B


Wide Receivers

Flanker Depth Chart: Jermaine Kearse (So.); Anthony Boyles (RS Fr.); Vince Taylor (RS Fr.)
Split End Depth Chart: Devin Aguilar (So.); D'Andre Goodwin (Jr.); Luther Leonard (RS Fr.)
Slot Depth Chart: Jordan Polk (So.); Cody Bruns (So.); Tony Chidiac (Jr.)*
Incoming player: James Johnson
* = walk-on

Overall the entire receiver position struggled at times with drops, but Kearse and Polk had the best springs among this bunch and it wasn't even close.

Kearse continued to make plays on a daily basis, using his size and underrated speed to be a physical presence at receiver while Polk used his quickness and agility to really cause problems for the secondary once he got his hands on the ball.

Aguilar has solidified his position near the top of the depth chart with his size and knowledge of the system, but once Goodwin returns from his nagging hamstring injury, he's a player that will be a heavy contributor in the offense.

Bruns is a solid route-runner who has sticky hands while Chidiac is a consistent performer for someone who is a walk-on.

Boyles, Taylor and Leonard are three of the tallest wideouts on the roster, but Boyles is the only one who figures to see playing time this fall. Where he needs to improve is on his concentration and intensity, but there's no doubt he's probably the smoothest receiver of the bunch.

Taylor just needs to continue to work and he will be a big contributor down the road while Leonard will need to get heavily into the playbook after switching from quarterback to receiver about halfway through spring practice.

Overall grade coming out of spring: C+


Tight End

Depth Chart: Chris Izbicki (So.); Kavario Middleton (So.); Ben Hayes (So.)*
Incoming players: Marlion Barnett; Dorson Boyce; Kimo Makaula
* = walk-on

With two highly acclaimed players like Izbicki and Middleton already on the roster, it would seem the Huskies are set at this position for the foreseeable future. However, both had yet to really establish themselves as reliable players and when Sarkisian was hired he said he needed two good tight ends to run his offense.

If there is one player who has benefitted from Sarkisian's "clean slate" policy it's Izbicki who showed a renewed commitment to football with both his offseason work and his improvement during the spring. As the month of April progressed,

Middleton is a force in the passing game, but he still needs a lot of work as a blocker. Time and again you could see the coaches working with him on his overall game as well as correcting his mistakes, so he's someone who should be able to really excel in the new system.

Hayes, Romeo Savant and Marek Domanski are all walk-ons who bring toughness and ability, but none will likely be in the depth as we head into the fall.

Overall grade coming out of spring: B


Offensive Line

Left Tackle: Cody Habben (Jr.); Ben Ossai (Sr.); Mark Armelin (So.)
Left Guard: Ben Ossai (Sr.); Scott Shugert (So.) Matt Sedillo (Jr.)
Center: Ryan Tolar (Jr.); Mykenna Ikehara (RS Fr.); Greg Christine (Jr.)*
Right Guard: Senio Kelemete (So.); Morgan Rosborough (Sr.)
Right Tackle: Drew Schaefer (RS Fr.); Nick Scott (Sr.)*
Incoming player: Daniel Mafoe
* = walk-on

More than any other unit, the offensive line has a ton of work to do between now and the start of the season on September 5th.

The starting five of Habben, Ossai, Tolar, Kelemete and Schaefer are, as the coaching staff noted, "the most athletic bunch we could put together" so it's obvious what philosophy they plan to employ. However, they have a long way to go to become the unit necessary for the Huskies to improve on offense.

Three of the five – Habben, Tolar and Ossai – have extensive starting experience while Kelemete and Schaefer both are athletic players, but when a second-year player like Kelemete can move from defense to offense and immediately end up as a starter, that should tell you the level of talent the new staff feels they currently have on the roster.

At times during the spring, Ikehara would man the pivot allowing Tolar to move to left guard, pushing Ossai to the second unit, but it appears that Tolar will end up at center, at least early on as Ikehara works on his strength and quick snapping abilities.

Shugert and Rosborough are both players who could see lots of time this fall as the coaches work hard to employ a rotation of players, while Scott is a valuable walk-on who could sub in at any time at tackle and not see much of a drop-off.

The arrival of Mafoe, the only offensive lineman taken in the last recruiting class, from El Camion Junior College could put the depth chart into flux because he's expected challenge for time the moment he arrives.

Overall grade coming out of spring: D+

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