Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 Washington Preview
2007 UW Defense Preview
2007 UW Depth
2006 CFN Washington
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.
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
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
Strength of the offense: Depth at receiver, pass
Weakness of the offense: The running game, the guards
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.