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A Redshirt Tipping Point?

Steve Sarkisian and his staff are at the point in their rebuild where they should be able to redshirt all but the incoming players who are capable of making an impact. But they may not, and here's why.

Otto Greule Jr

Take a look at the players for the Huskies who have not redshirted over the past two seasons: Bishop Sankey, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Danny Shelton, Kasen Williams, Pio Vatuvei, Erich Wilson II, Shaq Thompson, Shane Brostek and Jaydon Mickens. There were also two players who did not redshirt, but did greyshirt in John Timu and Marvin Hall, and one kicker in Koree Durkee. By and large, these players were playing because they were talented enough to do so, though injury forced a couple of them into early action, namely Wilson II and Brostek.

You're looking at about 6 players a year who didn't redshirt, and that sounds like a reasonable number for the incoming 2013 class to see as well. The program is in a place where the depth among the classes is evening out to where it should be, and the result is a lessened dependence on younger players.

However, the program being in a place where the depth of the roster has evened out also puts more pressure on the coaching staff to win. Tosh Lupoi has routinely stated that all four of the incoming defensive linemen will have a chance to contribute in the fall, and all along I've thought that this is just coach speak. He wants them to hear that to keep them working hard until they get onto campus, and to then push them once they're competing with the more experienced players on the roster. But the more I think about it, the more I worry that the coaching staff may be getting desperate.

It is entirely possible that the coaching staff knows that pressure to win is building, and though there has been progress each year, they know that it needs to begin manifesting itself in the form of wins. And one way to do that is to give themselves more options to go to from day one.

Why wouldn't they play all four defensive linemen and see if they can catch lightning in a bottle with one of them? Or try to expand their defensive line rotation to keep guys like Shelton fresh into the fourth quarter of games? Why not give Jermaine Kelly a shot at corner? Some guys shine under the spotlight, and maybe they use gamedays to figure out which of Darrell Daniels and Damore'ea Stringfellow they want to lean on more? Why not give John Ross a shot returning kicks and punts? How about Lavon Coleman being the #1 short yardage back? Maybe Keishawn Bierria and Azeem Victor can help right now against some of the spread offenses they'll face. Gotta give Cameron Van Winkle a shot at kicking right?

Some of these things will happen, maybe not for the listed reason, but one way or another some of these players will get on the field. But if you really think about it, it's not so crazy for more of these to happen than should because the staff is trying to get any edge they can to stay off any sort of warming seat. If it happens, it may not be in the best interest of the program long term, but it may be something that is seen as necessary to bridge from the present to the long term.