2012 Washington Preview – Offense
Washington TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Washington Husky Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What you need to know: With Steve Sarkisian at the helm, the Huskies feel that they can be the kind of offense that regroups on the fly when a star graduates. Last year, for instance, U-Dub averaged 409 yards and 33 points a game in the first year after bellwether QB Jake Locker’s graduation. So, even with the losses of 1,000-yard rusher Chris Polk and top two receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, Washington is confident that it won’t veer off the tracks. Of course, it helps immeasurably to have back QB Keith Price, who exploded out of the gate in his debut to throw for 33 touchdowns and 3,063 yards. The new names worth knowing at the skill positions in Seattle are Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey at running back, and Kasen Williams, an emerging star at wide receiver. Not to be forgotten, Austin Seferian-Jenkins is one of the country’s most dangerous young tight ends, debuting with six touchdown catches a year ago. The situation up front is going to be a little tenuous for the Huskies. It looked for a while as if the unit would return four starters from 2011, but RG Colin Porter was forced to retire because of chronic shoulder problems, and a handful of others were banged up in the spring. Without an obvious star in the mix, this group has to pull together before the opener.
Star of the offense: Junior QB Keith Price
Passing: Keith Price
242-362, 3,063 yds, 33 TDs, 11 INTs
Rushing: Jesse Callier
47 carries, 260 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
41 catches, 538 yds, 6 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore LT Micah Hatchie
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Kasen Williams
Best pro prospect: Sophomore TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Seferian-Jenkins, 2) Price, 3) Williams
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, red-zone touchdowns, depth at running back, tight end, third-down conversions
Weakness of the offense: The O-line, wide receiver depth
If there was any doubt before that Steve Sarkisian had a knack for working with young quarterbacks, there isn’t now. Yes, new Alabama coordinator Doug Nussmeier played a key role as well, but Sark has long flourished when working with players at the position. His latest pupil is junior Keith Price , who delivered an auspicious debut as the success to Jake Locker. Tasked with filling a large pair of shoes, the athletic 6-1, 195-pounder coolly went 242-of-362 for 3,063 yards, a school-record 33 touchdown passes and 11 picks. A pass-first player, he did run for three scores, will avoid the rush and is accurate on the move, a real plus since he sometimes needs to scramble in order to improve his line of sight. A clutch performer in the red zone, with beautiful touch on his passes, Price ought to be considered as a fringe Heisman contender now that he has a full season of work in the vault.
Now that Nick Montana has transferred out of Seattle, the backup to Price for the time being will be 6-3, 230-pound redshirt freshman Derrick Brown. The three-star quarterback from the 2011 class has all of the physical tools for future success, but needs the kind of consistency as a passer that will only come with reps and classroom time.
Watch Out For … the arrival of Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist , U-Dub’s pair of four-star recruits from this past February. The Huskies are going to have a rookie behind Price, but it won’t necessarily be Brown. Lindquist and Miles were the No. 8 and No. 13 quarterbacks in America, respectively, and chose Washington thinking that they would not redshirt in Year 1.
Strength: Price. Yeah, he’s athletic, and he throws a very catchable ball. However, it was the way he conducted himself in 2011 that really has Huskies fans excited about 2012 and 2013. He embraced the role of being Locker’s heir apparent, earned the respect of older teammates and played great in big moments, such as the Alamo Bowl duel with Heisman winner RG3.
Weakness: Proven depth. No one off the bench has attempted a single collegiate pass at Washington. That’d be a concern for any program. For the Huskies, whose starter is undersized and prone to getting dinged up, it’s a potential crisis. While he staff wants to maximize Price’s agility and quick feet, it won’t do so at the expense of exposing him to an injury.
Outlook: It took less than one year for Washington to regroup behind center, a credit to the entire offensive staff. Price was a revelation in his debut, a season he plans to build upon in 2012. No. 17 must stay out of harm’s way, though, because lining behind him is a trio of wide-eyed freshmen who shouldn’t be on the field during meaningful moments until 2013.
Unit Rating: 8.5
Don’t misunderstood Washington. It is absolutely going to miss Chris Polk, one of the best backs in a long time to carry the load on Montlake. However, the school realizes that it has recruited well enough in recent years to even survive the early departure of an all-star. While the battle for the starting job remains a toss-up, exit polls indicate that 5-10, 197-pound sophomore Bishop Sankey may have nudged ahead in a tight race. He got a whiff of action a year ago, turning 28 carries into 187 yards and a touchdown. The staff is particularly impressed with his quickness, decisive cuts and soft hands as a receiver, all of which could give him a slight edge for reps.
Going toe-to-toe with Sankey is 5-10, 203-pound Jesse Callier , a darting, slightly more powerful option out of the backfield. The junior has the most experience of the Husky backs, carrying the ball 124 times for 693 yards and a touchdown since arriving in 2010. From Polk, he learned to wait patiently for blocks to develop, and to always fight for more yards after contact. He has 1,000-yard potential if the carries are there to make it possible.
Is this the year that sophomore Deontae Coopermakes his long-awaited debut at Washington? The 6-0, 197-pound former blue-chip recruit from the 2010 class has undergone two reconstructive knee surgeries since arriving, preventing him from playing a down in purple. He’s getting closer to a return, which would be as inspirational as it is impactful to the depth chart.
At fullback, the Huskies are once again expected to employ the services of senior Jonathan Amosa . The 5-11, 239-pound former walk-on is a powerful run blocker, using excellent pad level to drive defenders off their base. He is not going to touch the ball, but remains an important cog in the short yardage game.
Watch Out For … no one to carry the ball more than 175 times this season. Whether it’s Sankey or Callier in the huddle on opening day, both players are going to be heavily involved in the ground game this season. Whether or not the staff wants to label it a committee, gone for now are the days when one workhorse, such as Polk, carries the ball more than 30 times in a game.
Strength: Options. Okay, so you don’t get better by losing a player of Polk’s caliber, but the Huskies are confident that they can replace his production, even if it requires two individuals. Sankey and Callier would both start for a bunch of programs nationally, which is going to ensure that they remain fresh as the season unfolds.
Weakness: A proven workhorse. The Huskies knew what they were getting in Polk, a warrior who was able to wear down defenses with his bruising running style. Sankey and Callier are very different types of runners, and it remains to be seen if either can carry the load on their own the way their predecessor did for the past three years.
Outlook: The Huskies might not produce an all-star running back for a change, but they do hope to approach last season’s production, even if it requires multiple players. Since the end of last year, Sankey was showing signs of becoming a very talented runner. And Callier is a poor-man’s Kenjon Barner of Oregon, an underrated Pac-12 backup itching for the opportunity to emerge from the shadow of a departed star.
Unit Rating: 7
Two of last year’s best receivers, Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar, have exhausted their eligibility, yet why doesn’t U-Dub seem overly concerned by their departures? The offense is going to feature an emerging star on the outside, and one of the nation’s premier tight ends. Sophomore Kasen Williams, a top national recruit from 2011, was an immediate hit as a backup, catching 36 balls for 427 yards and six touchdowns. He’s an explosive all-around weapon, with the 6-2, 216-pound frame and bounce in his step to create mismatches with opposing defensive backs. He’s on the brink of a monster second season in Seattle.
Joining Williams on the outside will be the veteran of the corps, 6-1, 198-pound senior James Johnson , a steady presence, and one of the hardest workers on the team. He’s been relatively quiet since debuting with 39 receptions in 2009, catching just 29 passes since, but is treating his finale as a golden opportunity to deliver his best season yet. Johnson possesses the sure hands and route-running skills to become one of Keith Price’s preferred targets, especially on third downs.
Although he’s yet to catch many passes, 5-11, 180-pound senior Cody Bruns has the Huskies excited about his return. The coach’s choice at slot receiver used last season as a redshirt year, winning the team’s Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year Award. He’s versatile, sure-handed and adept at locating the soft spots of a defense.
There’s cautious optimism that 6-0, 209-pound junior Kevin Smith can make a complete recovery from the ACL injury he suffered late in the 2011 campaign. Before getting hurt, he’d caught 15 passes for 208 yards, while helping ignite the special teams as a kick returner. He’s a field-stretcher, with an extra gear, but could be a medical scratch in the early part of the season.
Sophomore Austin Seferian-Jenkins is to the tight ends what Williams is to the wide receivers, a budding superstar with All-Pac-12 chops. The 6-6, 258-pound wasted no time showing why he was of the most sought after players in the country last February, catching 41 passes for 538 yards and six touchdowns. Much more than just a matchup problem because of his size, he’s also a highly skilled pass-catcher who is constantly working on getting better. The folks at the Mackey Award could be hosting Seferian-Jenkins at their annual dinner next year. He’s already among the nation’s best at his position.
Watch Out For … Seferian-Jenkins to blow up into a household name. A year after earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 in his first season out of high school, the sophomore was basically toying with Huskies defenders in the spring. He’s already on the same page with QB Keith Price, which could result in double-digit touchdown catches in 2012. Seferian-Jenkins is one of those rare tight ends, who leaves after three years, and gets drafted in the first round the following April.
Strength: Mismatch creators. In Williams and Seferian-Jenkins, the Huskies boast a pair of second-year players poised to abuse defensive backs and linebackers as if it’s a bodily function. Both are wonderfully gifted young athletes, with the size-speed combos to create separation, and give Price the window he needs to make connections.
Weakness: Depth at wide receiver. Washington is fine at tight end, where sophomore Michael Hartvigson could start for plenty of programs. At receiver, though, the injury to Smith has put the group in a rather precarious situation. After the starters, Williams and Johnson, there isn’t another holdover at the position who caught a pass in 2011.
Outlook: Depth could surface as a problem this fall. Frontline talent will not. Williams and Seferian-Jenkins are bona-fide stars in-the-making now that their roles are about to increase markedly. And Johnson is the perfect adjunct to the younger players, providing leadership, guidance and a reliable presence to a unit that’s still just a little wet behind the ears.
Unit Rating: 7.5
For what seems to be forever, the Huskies continue to tinker with an offensive line that’s been playing on its heels for far too long. The 2012 edition will be coping with the graduation of three players, namely all-star LT Senio Kelemete, and the news that starting G Colin Porter has been forced to retire due to a degenerative shoulder problem. The anchor of the retooled unit will be senior Drew Schaefer , a rock in the middle of the line. On a unit that’s had injury issues, the 6-4, 301-pounder has been a refreshing departure, starting 30 consecutive games for the program. He is the quarterback of this unit, and one of the most underrated players of the entire offense.
To Schaefer’s right will be one of the Huskies’ three returning regulars, 6-5, 296-pound junior OG Erik Kohler . He started all 13 games in 2011, gradually getting better as the season progressed. One of the nation’s highest-rated tackles coming out of high school, he has settled in nicely on the interior, where he can spend more time operating in a phone booth. This job may be Kohler’s, but massive, 6-6, 332-pound sophomore James Atoe has worked his way into the rotation, both as a backup guard and a reserve tackle.
Over at left guard, the hope around HQ is that sophomore Colin Tanigawa can make a healthy return from a knee injury that kept him on the shelf throughout the spring. The 6-3, 286-pounder started the first 11 games of his rookie year before going down, impressing the staff with his upper body strength, and his ability to create space in the running game for the Huskies backs. With Tanigawa out in April, 6-4, 287-pound redshirt freshman Dexter Charles took most of the first-team snaps. He’s an athletic blocker, with the hands and the footwork more commonly seen in tackles. In fact, Charles could be a bit of swingman this fall, filling voids at multiple positions.
At tackle, there’s a justifiable level of trepidation on the staff. The right side figures to be the domain of 6-6, 305-pound sophomore Ben Riva , a letterman in 2011. He’s added some necessary weight since joining the program, but has not played meaningful minutes up front, a big concern entering the summer.
The left side, Keith Price’s blindside, looks to be not quite as precarious. Yeah, 6-5, 299-pound Micah Hatchie is just a sophomore, with no starting experience, but he was a heralded recruit in 2010, with the right talent mix to handle a difficult assignment. He blocks with good balance, and harbors just enough of a mean streak to keep his quarterback from having to complete too many passes on the run.
Watch Out For … the roles of the rookies. The Huskies signed a half-dozen recruit in February, and largely out of necessity, a couple are almost assured of avoiding a redshirt. The goal for line coach Dan Cozzetto will be to get his newest linemen up to speed as quickly as possible in the summer, because they might employed faster than expected.
Strength: The interior. Relatively speaking, the Huskies are going to be stronger at guard and center than they will be at tackle, which will untested and paper thin. Assuming health issues can be navigated, Washington should be able to run the ball successfully behind the physical trio of Schaefer, Kohler and Tanigawa.
Weakness: Depth and durability. The two sort of go hand-in-hand these days. The blockers have not been durable, so depth is a real problem. The Huskies are painfully thin all over, a situation that’s sure to be exacerbated if some of the lingering bumps and bruises from the spring have not been resolved by the time the fall rolls around.
Outlook: Here we go again. The O-line had a chance to be decent a year ago, but still had problems consistently holding the line of scrimmage. Now that there are holes to be filled, and a spate of concerns over health, there’s good reason to believe that things could get worse before they get better. The unit is already young in the two-deep, a situation that’s bound to worsen once games start being played, and the nicks begin to accumulate.
Unit Rating: 6
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2012 Washington Offense
2012 Washington Defense |
Washington Depth Chart