Steve Sarkisian thinks his young offensive linemen are playing well this spring despite injuries to his starters. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Two weeks ago it looked like the Huskies would return four starting offensive linemen in 2012. After a couple of weeks of spring practice that number has dwindled to as little as one because of injury.
The news that Colin Porter had to retire from the game after starting his first two seasons at Washington is a serious blow. The nagging injuries limiting Erik Kohler this spring and the recovery of Colin Tanigawa from a torn ACL are huge question marks for a team that already had plenty of questions on the offensive line.
If the season was starting today the Huskies would be starting Micah Hatchie and Ben Riva at the tackle spots. Drew Schaefer at center flanked by big James Atoe and perhaps Mike Criste at guard. The coaches like the potential of the players they have been grooming but the Huskies will lose a lot of experience if Tanigawa and Kohler don't recover in time to play in 2012.
Since this isn't the NFL meaning the coaches can't make trades for replacements they have to make do with whatever talent is currently on the roster. This is going to be a huge challenge for Sark and Cozzetto between now and the fall.
It is also a huge opportunity for a bunch of kids who are now getting their first meaningful chances to show what they can do out on the football field. Early indications are that they are responding well to the challenge. The coaches feel that Atoe and Hatchie are ready to contribute significant quality minutes in 2012.
ASJ is a super talent but Washington has two other scholarship TE's on the roster who are also capable of playing in the NFL some day. Micheal Hartvigson and Evan Hudson have been impressive this spring and I expect that Washington will use a lot more 2-3 TE sets in 2012 to take advantage of that.
At wide receiver Kasen Williams is busy assuming the role of being Washington's top receiver. Williams is bigger and stronger than he was last season. Most importantly he has a year of experience under his belt which should help him play with confidence.
James Johnson is also having a great camp so far. He isn't taking anything for granted heading into what will be his senior season as a Husky. The key for him is to simply stay healthy. That is the only thing that has held him back the past three seasons.
With Kevin Smith out healing from his torn ACL it will be interesting to see who will emerge as the third starter behind Williams and Johnson. Maybe that guy ends up being Marvin Hall who is seeing his first action this spring.
Running back looks like a three headed animal at the moment led by So Bishop Sankey, Jr James Caller, and newcomer Jr Antavius Sims. All three of these kids will play quite a bit and share time this fall. Sims is an explosive guy and they really want to see what he can do once he gets comfortable with the position.
Keith Price is bigger, stronger, and actually healthy for the first time since last August. Everyone knows what he can do and the actual emphasis is getting the understudies up to speed since Nick Montana has departed for more playing time.
I am really anxious to see what Derrick Brown can do in a game situation. Local fans will get two opportunities to see that this spring. The last two weekend scrimmages of the year will be open to the public. One is being held at Memorial Stadium and the other which is the annual Spring Game will be held downtown at Century Link Field.