If you want to pick the one position with the most importance to the Washington football program going into spring camp it would be the new coaching staff. Washington cleaned house after a 0-12 season in 2008 and Steve Sarkisian leads a crew that needs to enact a culture change pronto!
Sarkisian takes the full reign of a football program for the first time this season. The 34 year old rookie head coach has impressed on lookers so far by really getting after it in recruiting and overhauling the strength and conditioning programs.
Sarkisian and his staff already have five recruits secured for 2010 and most observers feel he has the makings of a top ten recruiting class next season. The new staff has created a lot of excitement locally and up and down the West coast.
In the weight room Ivan Lewis was given the job of getting the current players into shape for spring ball. A few weeks ago we heard the offensive lineman were averaging 11 pounds of weight loss per man. It will be interesting to see how the team tests out on March 31st when drills begin.
We don't have a lot of information from the film room but Jake Locker obviously has been spending the off season getting his thumb back in shape and learning the nunaces of the new offense.
One thing we will be looking at closely at over the spring is how quickly UW is picking up the new schemes. Everything is going to be different as UW abandons the spread and adopts a pro style offense.
Sarkisian serves as his own offensive coordinator even though he will have help from Doug Nussmeier (Passing) and the "Prince of Darkness" Dan Cozzetto (Running).
Nussmeier is a former NFL QB who has gotten rave reviews as a QB coach in the both the pro's and college. Nussmeier, who was inducted to the University of Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008, along with fellow Vandal alum and Husky assistant coach Joel Thomas, came to the UW after one season as offensive coordinator at Fresno State.
He joined the Fresno State staff after having spent two seasons as the quarterbacks coach for the St. Louis Rams on the staff of head coach Scott Linehan, a former UW offensive coordinator.
Cozzetto is a tough as nails drill instructor who will make every practice a tough learning session as he builds skill and toughness among his charges.
Cozzetto, who was the Huskies' offensive line coach in 2003, comes to the UW after having spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons as tight ends coach at Arizona State. He had also previously worked as the offensive coordinator and o-line coach at ASU from 1992 to 1999. We are talking about a longtime Dennis Erickson assistant.
Joel Thomas from Purdue will take over the running game. Thomas was pursued all winter by NFL teams interested in his services. Thomas, who was previously also a graduate assistant at Purdue, return to the Boilermakers staff in 2006 after two years at Idaho as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach under Nick Holt, then the Vandals' head coach and now the UW defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
In 2002 and 2003, Thomas was running backs coach at Louisville. Under his tutelage, the Cardinals ranked 10th in the nation in rushing offense (228.2 yards per game) in 2003. Thomas also briefly worked at Idaho as running backs coach in the spring of 2002.
Dougherty has spent the last five seasons on the coaching staff at the University of San Diego. This past season, he served as the Toreros' offensive coordinator.
"Jimmie is a bright young coach," Sarkisian said. "I'm excited to have him on the staff. He'll do a great job with our wide receiver group."