2007 Washington Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 24, 2007

Preview 2007 Washington Husky Offense

Washington Huskies

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Washington Preview | 2007 UW Defense Preview
2007 UW Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Washington Preview 

What you need to know: All eyes in Seattle will be fixed on the debut of hot-shot rookie quarterback Jake Locker, but if there’s one priority for Tyrone Willingham in 2007, it’s to get more consistent on the ground.  Conservative by Pac-10 doctrine, the third-year coach wants to pound it between the tackles to set up the pass.  Top back Louis Rankin is more of an outside runner, putting the onus on 210-pound sophomore J.R. Hasty to start realizing his vast potential.  While Locker has all the tools for stardom, he’ll spend most of the upcoming season adapting to his new role as the face of the program.  His big-play target will be senior Marcel Reece, a Mike Walker clone poised to make a salary run.               

Returning Leaders
Passing: Carl Bonnell
72-164, 916 yds, 7 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Louis Rankin
142 carries, 666 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Anthony Russo
32 catches, 552 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Louis Rankin
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Jake Locker
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR Marcel Reece
Best pro prospect: Reece
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reece,  2) Rankin  3) C Juan Garcia
Strength of the offense: Depth at receiver, pass protection
Weakness of the offense: The running game, the guards


Projected Starter: Deciding that the future is now, Ty Willingham has already tabbed sophomore Jake Locker as the starting quarterback for 2007.  The gem of the 2006 recruiting class, he gives hope to a program that hasn’t had a lot to howl about the last five years.  Long-term, Locker has it all.  He’s 6-3 and 215 pounds with a live arm, outstanding mobility, and intangibles, such as leadership, intelligence and toughness that usually don’t develop until much later in a quarterback’s career.  When Locker lowers his shoulder in the open field this fall, he’s going to remind fans of former U-Dub great Marques Tuiasosopo.  While he’ll certainly struggle at times in year one at the controls, he’ll also show enough to whet the appetite of hungry fans around Seattle.                              

Projected Top Reserves: Although senior Carl Bonnell closed the gap on Locker with a crisp spring effort, he’s still locked in at No. 2.  On a team that’s moving forward with a rookie, he’s a luxury, a fifth-year player that started the final five games of 2006 and led the Huskies to an Apple Cup victory.  Bonnell’s wounded shoulder has to hold up for an entire year because after him is Ronnie Fouch, a true freshman that participated in this year’s spring session.        

Watch Out For… Locker to make a fair amount of errors in 2007, but lead Washington to one really big upset.  In short time, he’ll prove to be one of those charismatic athletes that elevates the play of those around him and performs at a high level in spotlight games.
Strength: The future.  For the first time since Matt Tuiasosopo, Marques’ little brother, left the program in 2004 to play for the Seattle Mariners, there’s a palpable buzz surrounding the Husky quarterback situation.  Locker’s presence in the lineup is going to light a fire under the rest of the offense and the fan base.                          
Weakness: Inconsistency.  With all freshmen quarterbacks, forced passes and occasional brain cramps are pretty much built into the equation.  Locker’s going to have them, especially if he can’t improve on his accuracy which was suspect in April.
Outlook: Barring an injury or a complete lack of support, Locker is headed for stardom.  Just don’t bank on it happening in 2007.  It won’t show up in boxscores, but he’ll grow exponentially this fall, setting the stage for a breakthrough sophomore season in 2008.     
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: A starter for parts of the last two seasons, senior Louis Rankin is the lone Husky back with any experience.  Despite starting just a pair of games in 2006, he led the Huskies in rushing with 666 yards and four touchdowns on 142 carries, a healthy average of 4.7 yards a carry.  An upright runner with a long stride, Rankin is one of the program’s fastest backs since Rashaan Shehee was on campus.  At 6-0 and 205 pounds, he has game-breaking speed, but needs to hit the hole with more authority in 2007 and pick up the tough yards when the offense is facing third-and-short.        

Sophomore Paul Homer and junior Luke Kravitz are in a tussle to determine who’ll be the starting fullback.  While Homer left spring with a slight edge, both will get playing time this fall.  Not your average fullback, Homer has the quickness to log a couple of carries each game to keep defenses honest.     

Projected Top Reserves: Is this the year sophomore J.R Hasty begins fulfilling the hype that made him the centerpiece of Washington’s 2005 recruiting class?  It has to be because the Huskies have few other options after Rankin.  Hasty has yet to carry the ball, redshirting in 2005 and missing 2006 for academic reasons, prompting many to wonder if he’ll ever deliver for the program.  He’s had a good off-season on the field and in the classroom, suggesting that his long-awaited debut will happen in September.  While the 5-11, 210-pound Hasty is as fast as Rankin, he’s tougher between the tackles and runs with great vision.       

Watch Out For… at least one of the true freshmen to burn a redshirt year in 2007.  Led by Curtis Shaw and Brandon Johnson, the Huskies did real well at running back last February, addressing an immediate need on the depth chart.                            
Strength: Rankin’s speed.  While he may not be the complete back that Tyrone Willingham can lean on 25 times a game, when Rankin finds running room, he’s impossible to catch from behind.         
Weakness: Depth.  The Huskies have just one back with any experience, a backup that’s had eligibility issues and a gaggle of teenagers that’ll be on call all year in the event anyone gets injured.
Outlook:  With a young quarterback behind center, it’s imperative that the backs perform well this season.  Assuming they’re available all season, Hasty and Rankin give Washington an inside-outside tandem that could be extremely potent.  
Rating: 7.5


Projected Starters: Last year’s leading receiver Sonny Shackelford is gone, but with upperclassmen throughout the roster, Washington will have no shortage of quality pass-catchers.  Although senior Anthony Russo has the thicker resume, another senior, Marcel Reece, could have the better numbers in 2007.  Reece was unstoppable this past spring, his first since transferring from El Camino (Calif.) College.  At 6-3 and 240 pounds, he’s a load in traffic, but also has outstanding straight-line speed.  After dedicating himself to losing weight and dominating in April, he’s poised to be one of the Pac-10’s bigger surprises. 

Russo has been a solid No. 2 receiver since early in his Husky career.  While only 5-11 and 185 pounds, and quicker than he is fast, he’s been able to pull in 73 career catches and average a robust 16 yards a reception. If Russo cuts down on his drops, he’ll set career-highs in every category.

There’s depth but no clear-cut starting tight end, with seniors Michael Gottlieb, Johnie Kirton and Robert Lewis expected to take their spring battle right through the summer.  While Gottlieb and Kirton started six games in 2006, Lewis started one, a tight end by committee that Tyrone Willingham would like to abolish if one of the three can distinguish himself.  Kirton has displayed a knack for making catches the last two years, and has the 6-3, 270-pound frame to be the kind of blocker Willingham demands from the position.

Projected Top Reserves: Seniors Corey Williams, Cody Ellis and Quintin Daniels have played a lot of football for the Huskies, but now it’s time to ramp up the production from the second unit.  Williams played in nine games in 2006, starting four, yet only had ten catches for 83 yards.  Slowed by a broken wrist early in his career and unfulfilled expectations, he has way too much athletic ability to not be more of a threat on post patterns. 

A steady performer last season, Ellis was third on the team with 18 catches for 230 yards and a score.  He has outstanding speed, but at 6-0 and 185 pounds, won’t break tackles and can be a liability as a blocker. 

Daniels was honored as the offense’s most improved player in 2006 after catching a career-best 12 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.  A legitimate sprinter, he only needs to become a better pass-catcher and a more polished overall receiver.          

Watch Out For… Reece.  If he remains in good shape all year, Reece has the hands and the size-speed combination to become the premier target that the Huskies are presently lacking.  He plays like a tight end, yet moves like a wideout.
Strength: Experience and depth.  When the quarterback has yet to throw a pass at this level, it really helps to have five receivers and three tight ends that are returning seniors with letters from last season.                        
Weakness: Lack of a go-to guy.  Until proven otherwise, Washington has a bunch of second and third receivers, no true No. 1 that can get deep and deflect attention away from the rest of the skill position players.                    
Outlook: The key for the passing game is Reece, who has to play well enough to open things up for a collection of slightly better than average Husky receivers.
: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Three-fifths of a line that did a good job in pass protection, but really struggled to open holes returns in 2007.  If the Huskies are going to be more than a second-tier Pac-10 offense, this group has to get a lot more physical than last season.  The cornerstones will be the tackles, sophomore Ben Ossai and senior Chad Macklin.  Ossai started 11 games on the left side in his first season, earning Pac-10 all-Freshman honors in the process.  However, even at 6-6 and 300 pounds, he was physically overmatched at times in 2006, and needs to be more consistent at the point of contact. 

Macklin played every snap on offense last season, his first as a regular in the starting lineup.  At 6-8 and 300 pounds, he has the reach to fend off pass rushers, but like Ossai, has to become more of a mauler on running plays.

Anchoring the line at center for the second straight year is Juan Garcia, a fifth-year senior with two seasons of eligibility remaining.  An inspirational player that’s overcome serious injuries, legal problems and academic issues, he’s plenty tough and the unquestioned leader of the line.

Both guards this year will be first-time starters.  On the left side is mammoth Morgan Rosborough, a 6-6, 375-pound sophomore that backed up Stanley Daniels in 2006, yet did not play.  Surprisingly nimble for such a big lineman, he’ll still benefit by getting down to 350 or 360 pounds before September. 

The battle at right guard between junior Casey Bulyca and redshirt freshman Ryan Tolar won’t be decided until later in the summer.  Bulyca has a slight edge in experience, but if he remains north of 350 pounds, it could open the door for someone else.  Yet another wide-body, Tolar is 6-6 and 325 pounds, and improving all the time.  He’s powerful and intense, but needs to transform some of his baby fat into muscle.   

Projected Top Reserves: While either Bulyca or Tolar will be the backup right guard, the No. 2 left guard will be junior Jordan White-Frisbee.  A former defensive lineman, he’s healthy again after enduring foot injuries for much of his college career.  Once he learns the nuances of the position, he’s got the athleticism and nasty streak to be a contributor on the inside. 

The Huskies top two reserve tackles are on opposite spectrums of their college careers.  Behind Ossai, senior Erik Berglund is a steady performer and one of just five returning linemen to see any action in 2006.  Fueled by a solid off-season, the 6-6, 290-pound former walk-on should finish his Husky career by earning his first letter. 

Cody Habben, on the other hand, is just a redshirt freshman and a prominent part of the program’s future.  One of Washington’s key recruits from 2006, he has the feet and ferocity to be Jake Locker’s top bodyguard once he gets more experience and adds good weight to his 6-5 frame. 

Watch Out For… the belt sizes of the linemen, who are Husky in more ways than one.  Naturally, you want your front wall to be sizable, but Washington was in danger of looking soft and out of shape this off-season, troubling signs in a league filled with quality speed rushers.                     
Strength: Pass protection.  The Huskies did a fine job in pass protection last year, allowing only 19 sacks despite losing fleet-footed Isaiah Stanback for half the year.  With both starting tackles returning, expect more of the same in 2007.            
Weakness: Run blocking.  Yeah, the Huskies average about 330 pounds from left to right, but they could still stand to be a lot more physical in the running game.  If, as the coaching staff desires, Washington is to have a more dominant ground attack, the line must throw its weight around with more authority in 2007. 
Outlook: While slightly better than average, the line will suffer early on from Jake Locker’s inevitable rookie mistakes, such as when to tuck and run and when to heave the ball out of bounds to avoid sacks.
Rating: 7


Related Stories
2007 Washington Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Washington Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Washington Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007

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