With yesterday's conclusion of Day 3 drills, the Washington Huskies have now completed 20% of their allotted spring practices.
My, how time flies.
The Dawgs were in shells yesterday and today's practice - which is closed to the media - will be the first completed in full pads. So, despite the fact that we are 20% done with spring, it still seems too early to draw any conclusions.
However, if we couch those conclusions under title of "early impressions", we are on safe grounds to speculate. So, let's do that.
I will preface all of this by saying that I've no firsthand knowledge of anything happening at Montlake. Like you, I'm a consumer of the bits and pieces of information leaking out through beat reports, podcasts and personal accounts by friends and colleagues closer to the action. The purpose of this post is simply to stimulate some discussion by putting out an interpretation of how the tea leaves seem to be falling.
Nothing more than that. No inside scoops. No anonymous sources. Just me and barely informed opinions.
Observation #1: The Quarterbacks Are Embracing the Opportunity
There has been a ton of attention paid to the quarterback competition by the beat reporters, bloggers and insiders. By all accounts, I think we can draw several conclusions. First, Jeff Lindquist has taken a big step forward in his accuracy. Second, KJ Carta-Samuels has surprised with his all around game and his preparedness. Finally, Jake Browning is shocking everybody with his cool factor and how quickly he has assimilated.
I would agree with the argument that Adam Jude made in one of his beat reports that this is anybody's competition and that it could go into the fall. However, I think that of the three observations noted above that the rise of Browning is the most surprising development. We shall see if continues to look as sharp after he gets hit in the mouth once or twice. If he does, look out. While I would still have a STRONG preference to see him redshirt, he may not be denied.
Observation #2: You Can Never Have Enough RBs
Last season, we all saw what we thought was a position of strength shrink down to a position that would have been staffed by a true freshman and a junior coming off of three ACL injuries were it not for the fact that Shaq Thompson happened to be available. Fast forward to this spring and you would struggle to find a Husky fan that didn't think we were anything other than set at RB as we headed into camp.
Yet here we are just three days into camp and UW is down to one scholarship running back out on the field. Lavon Coleman was the only man out there yesterday as Dwayne Washington, Deontae Cooper and Jomon Dotson all missed practice for one reason or another. Their collective absence is a reminder of how quickly things can change at that position.
It is also a reality check for any of us who are still harboring ideas that incoming true freshman Myles Gaskin will have the luxury of redshirting in 2015.
Observation #3: Azeem Victor is in the Building
I'm really reading tea leaves right now. But, if you cull together various observations, pictures / videos floating around, and the generally positive vibe coming from Victor's own social media, you get the distinct impression that Victor is starting to emerge. He's made a few plays already and you have to expect that the Husky coaches are excited about what an athlete of his stature can bring to the table if he can get the details of his position down.
Replacing John Timu in the middle of that linebacking corps is a major storyline this spring. I expect that we'll get a lot more comments coming from Pete Kwiatkowski and Bob Gregory on the subject. Some of those comments will be explicitly about Victor while some may be in code. One way or another, it will be a hot topic that we will continue to monitor. As of now, I'd say Azeem's prospects are trending up.
Observation #4: The D-Line is a Hot Mess ... For Now
Noticeably absent from much of the early coverage and commentary has been a lot of talk on how roles and responsibilities may be shaping up on the D-Line. Outside some talk about who has been trying their hand at the BUCK position (Psalm Wooching and JoJo Mathis primarily), we've not hear a ton about how the front three positions have looked.
This is clearly one of those things that won't really work itself out until pads are on and bullets start flying. Thus is the nature of the D-Line. With all of the new faces and the changes in bodies coming from the offseason work out program (e.g. Jaylen Johnson is pushing 270? Hello Jadaveon Clowney 2.0. Ok, that might be premature. Or not), it is simply going to take some time to see how everything sorts. out.
It definitely looks like a mess right now - and it is an assault on my senses which have been so trained in this Internet-driven era of instant gratification - but it also looks like a situation that could grow into an unexpected strength by the time September rolls around.
Observation #5: Welcome to Tight-End U
A few commentators on the blog have voiced their approval for early reports of certain tight ends being on the receiving end of a few big plays early in camp. I would agree that it certainly seems like we've been hearing the names of guys like David Ajamu and Joshua Perkins a little more than we heard tight end names called at this point a year ago.
That's good news.
The Huskies don't have experienced depth in many places across the roster. However, TE is the one position group in which they project well. In fact, outside of Stanford, I can't really find another Pac 12 TE group that projects as deep and as balanced as the Huskies do - at least not on paper.
We've all talked about the importance of integrating the TEs into the offense, especially given how thin our receiving corps looks for this season. My early observation here is that the coaching staff shares a similar opinion and will be looking to create opportunities for TEs to maximize reps and become factors in the offensive strategy going forward.
Those are my entirely too premature observations about where we are at with spring camp so far into it. Other items I thought about writing about include the maturing defensive secondary, the flashing of Brayden Lenius, the locked in nature of the first five offensive linemen, the arrival of Ezekiel Turner, the switch of John Ross (even if he is out) and the "bounce in the step" of Jonathan Smith.
What are you all encouraged by? What tweet, beat report, or practice video has caught your attention? What are you getting excited about. Check in below in our comments section and join the discussion.