Going into the 2011 season, there was a great deal of consternation on who would replace Jake Locker not only as QB, but as a team leader. For all the abuse that Jake took over his accuracy numbers, Jake had a great track record in converting third downs and his unique physical capabilities more than made up for the disaster we had on the offensive line and in the TE position his final year. His graduation left a gaping hole that many Husky fans debated could never be filled, much less by replaced by either of the two candidates in Keith Price or Nick Montana.
Sarkisian made a bold move by making a quick decision in the Spring Camp by naming Price as the starter. The skeptical among us ruminated that this was a move designed to put endless speculation to rest, but not one that would be fully settled until Fall Camp was completed. Little did we know that Price had completely outdueled Montana both on the field and off and clearly seized the reigns of the offense with his leadership, his accuracy and his uncanny ability to keep plays alive. Keith would, of course, fill the shoes of Jake Locker more than adequately in putting together a record-breaking season that culminated in a seven TD masterpiece against a top 10 team that rivals Marques Tuiasosopo's 300/200 game in terms of total greatness.
Every season on every CFB team, someone comes from out of the blue, steps up and fills a position that fans and pundits speculated could not adequately be filled by a newcomer. Keith Price did it last season. Who will be that guy for the Huskies this season? A random listing of Gekko's top choices after the Jump.
The criteria for predicting the next Keith Price includes the following:
- The incumbent should be a relative uncertainty ... clear cut replacements or guys who have a substantial body of work in the role they are stepping into should not be considered
- They must be stepping in for a multi-year starter or an exceptional performing one-year starter
- Fans and pundits should not have a clear cut favorite among the player and whomever he is competing with to fill the spot
- The player being replaced should be considered a leader either in practice or in example
Here are my choices:
- Cody Bruns - It has been a long and strange trip for Cody Bruns. Recruited to UW under Ty Willingham, Cody is the player who had his redshirt infamously burned for what appeared to be no good reason in Ty's last season at UW. Cody would go on to have some ups and downs with playing time and injuries before taking a year off last season. Now the true "gramps" of the UW offense, Cody brings to the table all the tools that you could hope to have in a #3 type of receiver. Good hands, good route running, great knowledge of the playbook, an ability to throw the football in gadget plays and the ability to lead the placekicking battery as the holder. Bruns is also a serviceable blocker and should more than adequately play the role of Devin Aguilar (minus the occasional vertical route) and then some.
- Travis Coons - Over the past four years, the Huskies have had it good in the kicking game. With the graduation of Keil Rasp, Eric Folk and Will Mahan, the Huskies are all of a sudden looking for answers in this desperately under appreciated facet of the game. Travis Coons figures to be part of the solution. Coons, a JR transfer for Mt Sac, is a large (6'2", 205 lbs) PK with a big leg. While he is still competing for the top spot, Coons has already shown off a strong leg with unexpected accuracy in his first week of camp. If he can maintain that accuracy under fire while giving our kickoff teams a chance to make plays around the 20, we could actually see even better outputs from our kicking game.
- Ben Riva - Despite fits of inconsistency, the loss of Senio Kelemete at OT is a major hole for the Huskies to plug. Part of this is because of the fact that, when he was on, Kelemete could dominate. Part of this is because there is so much uncertainty about our young OT prospects. Riva is an interesting case who projects to start at RT (I considered Hatchie, but his role as LT was still in question due to uncertainty about Drew's final position at the time this was drafted). Riva is a northwest kid who has all the dimensions: 6'6", 302 lbs with some athleticism (Riva was a track athlete in HS). By all accounts, he has a nasty streak that fuels his tenaciousness and his "finish the play" mentality. If he can develop a comfort level with his assignments and a down by down basis, he could be a real factor in helping to establish the right side of the line for KP and co.
- Jesse Callier - The majority of you believe that it is only a matter of time before Jesse gets overtaken by Bishop Sankey in the race to backfill Chris Polk. While I do not believe that anyone will do what Chris did, exactly, I do think Jesse has enough of a diverse game to effectively replace War Daddy and then some. We know that he is a quick runner who makes quick decisions, we know that he is very familiar with the offense, we've seen that he is adequate in pass protection and we know that he can catch the ball. Layer in his durability and his three years of experience in the PAC 12 and you have a playmaker who Sark will figure out how to fully utilize.
- Shaq Thompson - Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly who he will be stepping in for, Shaq could end up filling a key gap left behind among the LBs corps in supporting the run and covering inside routes. His athleticism, his closing skills and his instincts will make him more dangerous than just about any defender we've had on the field since Dashon Goldson was in our defensive backfield. Bruce Feldman wrote that West Virginia tagged Tyrann Mathieu as a SAM backer when they prepped for LSU last year. I can see Shaq filling that same kind of role where it is difficult for an opposing OC to label him as filling any one position.