Oh yeah, we have one week — I repeat, one week — until Washington kicks off against Rutgers.
Doesn’t that just sound beautiful?
Now that I’ve got you in a good mood with that realization, let’s get to day seven of our Countdown to Kickoff: Which Husky’s non-football sporting background is the most valuable on the gridiron?
Off we go:
Option #1 — P Joel Whitford/Australian football
First thing’s first: STOP CALLING IT RUGBY-STYLE PUNTING. Aussie-rules football and rugby are two different sports and a rugby player has pretty much no circumstances for these sort of mechanics...
unless maybe they’re a fullback but still that’s different enough to justify my saltiness.
Anyways — tangent over — The Whitford of Oz embodies Chris Petersen’s full commitment to Aussie-style punting and I 100% expect his background in “footie” to be so blatant an upgrade, even us plebeians can see the difference. While Tristan Vizcaino was fine, being completely comfortable with the running and punting combo plus being freakishly accurate with said punts is on a different level if the guy kicking it grew up playing Aussie rules.
Even though the punting unit gets no love, their ability to keep opposing offenses backed up can significantly change the flow of the game. The Washington defense would feast off an opponent with consistently bad field position. And that would be super fun to watch.
Option #2 — WR Dante Pettis/Jumping events
I unsuccessfully tried to find that photo from a couple months ago of Dante skying invisible defenders for a ball 8723872 feet over his head to begin this. If there’s anyone who’s stealthily a freak athlete on this team, it might be this guy.
While I’d put more money down on the “Dante Pettis was born a freak” option, his high school field experience just gave him more reps to hone his body control and timing. Off the top of my head I remember him coming up with some gnarly grabs against Cal and Wazzu that came down to him out-jumping opponents (who were often holding) and I’m sure there have been more examples of that.
He even joined Washington’s long jump squad last spring and, despite having limited practice, had the best marks on the team and came in 9th in the Pac 12.
Dante Pettis wins the long jump with a best mark of 24-3— UW Track (@UWTrack) May 6, 2017
Like... ... ... ... For real though how?
Even though he’s not crazy fast or physically imposing, Pettis’ track and field-aided athleticism makes Jake Browning’s job a lot easier.
Option #3 — OLB Tevis Bartlett/Wrestling
If you followed my rants on Stuff and Shenanigans last year, you know how pissed I get when football players are ass at tackling. I think it’s a combo of my rugby-originated nitpicking and the clarity with which I remember Washington defense’s garbage tackling circa any-year-between-2001-2011. Bad tackling can [the rest of this sentence has been] my [redacted due to] and [truly mind-blowing expletives] in the [REDACTED].
Luckily, there’s a few sports that make athletes way, way better at tackling. Rugby is one but even more fundamentally, wrestling is huge. Wrestling is pretty much like if you took the Oklahoma Drill and stripped away even more of the football-specificity. It’s the core of what you need to do as a defensive player and Tevis Bartlett’s status as a multi-year wrestling state champion in Wyoming means you can pretty much always trust he’ll bring an opponent down on the football field.
As a wrestler, Bartlett has an ingrained understanding of leverage and lower-body drive that can’t be mimicked by someone without that experience. This is especially valuable since I swear half of FBS’ defensive players have the tackling prowess of an overripe avocado. (Fun fact: Every time a safety tries to bring someone down just by clobbering them, the only thing keeping me from ripping off the TV and hurling it through a window is that the bar said one more of those and they won’t let me back.)
Furthermore, the hand fighting that he’ll be asked to do as he becomes more of a pass rusher should be naturally aided by his wrestling background.
Basically: Wrestling is good. Do that.
Option #4 — OT Trey Adams/Basketball
If you’re bored and want something entertaining, google “trey adams wenatchee basketball murders poor child.” Doing so brings you to some footage of our favorite LT dunking the crap out of some kid from Prosser. It’s awesome.
Adams’ athleticism seems to be something we appreciate implicitly but don’t fully comprehend given his size. Watch him during a game and you’ll notice how low he gets his 6’8” frame or how twitchy his feet are. No doubt this dude is quicker than me all while weighing 200 lbs more. (Actually 204 lbs more, if we wanna be precise.)
Similar to how I’d always prefer a defensive player who wrestled or a punter who played Aussie rules, I feel like an OT coming from the basketball court just has an inherent advantage in their feet.
And if nothing else, Adams’ basketball career gave us highlights of him ruining a Prosser High School student’s day. So that’s fun.
Option #5 — WR Chico McClatcher/Track
He’s a speedy mothertrucker. That’s all.
Whose non-football background is the most valuable
This poll is closed
The Whitford of Oz — Australian Football
Dante Pettis — Jumping
Tevis Bartlett — Wrestling
Trey Adams — Basketball
Chico McClatcher — Track
Verdict: Tevis Bartlett — Wrestling
This one was pretty tricky because I keep going back to how underrated but devastating an elite (read: Australian) punter is. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter how far a punter can back up an opposing offense if Washington’s defense is too trash to take advantage of it.
While the entire Husky defense is being crafted in the ways of rugby tackling and solid fundamentals, Bartlett has a significant head start.
Part of this verdict was biased by the fact that, after almost 15 years of defensive mediocrity, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a dude like Bartlett take the field and win so many of his battles with anyone he can get his hands on. He hasn’t won a starting SAM/BUCK spot yet but I’d be legitimately shocked if he doesn’t end up the starter at one of those.
Also, if you forgot, 2016 gave us a full blast of what happens when your edge rush dies. Bartlett’s quick hands and ability to manipulate an opponent’s bodyweight on said edge is a boon to the Huskies’ pass defense. That plus his dependability when up against a ball carrier means all of his duties are significantly improved — if not straight up defined by — having been a wrestler.
If we had a team full of wrestlers I’d be so happy but, since we don’t, I’ll just be the conductor of The Bartlett Bandwagon, LLC.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.