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30 Day Countdown - Day 3: UW's Biggest Depth Chart Surprise

We have a real depth chart to react to. Let's do so now.

Will Dissly is so good, he might be starting at two positions before the season is over.
Will Dissly is so good, he might be starting at two positions before the season is over.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Hello Dawg fans.

Good news / bad news here.  The bad news (for me) is that I don't have a ton of time to crank out this piece as I'm in London right now and there is some serious business for me to get to.  The good news (for you) is that we are going to jump right into this without any witty repartee coming from me.

You are welcome.

The subject for today's poll is "Biggest Depth Chart Surprise".  That's pretty much self-explanatory.  There are no caveats here.  Here is the official depth chart.

Option 1:  Jake Eldrenkamp - Starting LG

Eldrenkamp was supposed to be the future at LT.  He had been recruited as a tackle and had earned first team reps in each of the last two spring sessions as well as most of this fall camp.  But a series of events that began with a dinged up Coleman Shelton and ended with the medical retirement of star OG Dexter Charles has led us to a situation that very few Dawg fans had predicted:  the shifting of Eldrenkamp to OG.

Jake certainly has the athleticism to play at Guard.  He's got nice footwork and good straightline speed for a guy his size.  That will serve him well when he's pulling in Petersen's power offense.  The versatility that he has coupled with the couple of years of eligibility he has remaining also suggests that the Husky staff is preparing to break in one of their younger tackle prospects (one or both of Kaleb McGary and Trey Adams) sooner rather than later.

Option 2:  Brian Clay - Starting Strong Safety

If you read my work, you know two things:  1) I thought for sure that JoJo McIntosh was going to win the starting SS spot ahead of transfer Ezekiel Turner and 2) I have a huge, huge man-crush on Brian Clay.  I love his story. I love his commitment to the university. I love his dedication to the life principles that he has set for himself.  I love that he went from walk-on with one staff to scholarship player with another.

Still, I didn't see this coming.

All the reports that we were getting centered on the battle that was brewing between the two young players in McIntosh and Turner.  Both are big, both are physical and both were showing their potential in camp.  But a few dings here and there opened the door for Clay to show what he could do.  With his ascension, he instantly becomes the greybeard of the defensive backfield and the one guy who will always know where he is supposed to be and what he and everybody else is supposed to be doing.

The other interesting aspect of this is that Clay is the best of the three in coverage by what I would guess is a pretty large margin.  You can read what you want into that ... but ask yourself why it is the coaching staff might value coverage over run support out of that strong safety position and you might be able to draw some interesting conclusions about what kind of defense Pete Kwiatkowski might want to run this year.

Option 3:  Will Dissly - Second String DE and DT

Though everybody has known that Dissly is the Leatherman tool of the UW defensive line (and of its linebacking corps if you believe reports that he'll play a few downs at BUCK), the fact that he shows up in the two deeps as a backup on both the inside and outside line positions still qualifies as a surprise.  In fact, if you just play the logic out and you consider the fact that the Huskies will be facing a lot of high-tempo, no huddle types of teams, you can easily see how Dissly will ultimately earn starter levels of snaps played simply by rotating between his two positions.

Dissly is a beast that the rest of the PAC 12 will be talking about in the very near future.  This designation tells us all that Jeff Choate and the rest of the staff have very high expectations for the true sophomore.

Others Considered:  
... JoJo Mathis, starting DE (instead of BUCK)
... Drew Sample ("OR" starting TE)
... Ben Burr-Kirven & DJ Beavers (showing up on the depth chart at all)
... Myles Gaskin (beating Deontae Cooper for 3rd string RB)

The Verdict

Brian Clay, Starting Strong Safety

There are a lot of juicy tidbits that come out of the published depth chart if you have a discerning eye and the patience to consider the implications of what you reading.  Brian Clay's ascension tells you a lot about how the coaching staff is strategically setting up its defense and how much it values veteran leadership relative to raw measurables.  Personally, I'm thrilled for the young man and he registers as my clear-cut "surprise" on the Week 1 Depth Chart.