Sup, and welcome to another roundtable.
Before last season began, I decided to create an award called the Jake Eldrenkamp Award For Excellence in “Oh S*** he was Actually Way Better Than we Realized Until he Left and Now We’re Feelin’ It.” It’s kinda like a cross between the Piesman, the Heisman, the Oscars, and the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good (but Wanna do Other Stuff Good, Too). Having a hunch what my own thoughts were on the matter, I presented the following question to our crack team of foobaw geniuses:
“We all know the Huskies are gonna miss Vita Vea and Dante Pettis, but who is this year’s Jake Eldrenkamp? (I.e. who are the Dawgs gonna miss that we haven’t yet realized we’re gonna miss?)”
These were our answers:
Kirk Degrasse: Good question. Right off the top of my head I’ll say Lavon Coleman. We don’t have a guy on the roster that’s shown they can fill that physical RB role he did so well.
Gaskin is awesome and Ahmed has a ton of potential, but they are very similar backs.
Jeffrey Gorman: Got damn good question Gabey.
Kirk: McGrew’s upside is as a jitterbug kind of back, not a “run your ass over” back.
Pleasant is the guy that could possibly develop into that, and perhaps Newton too. But it’s a big unknown. And while Coleman didn’t have as great of a season last year, I think fans might be under-rating his impact on the offense.
Gabey Lucas: @jeffreyagorman can I use you as a reference?
And so far it feels like we all are thinking similar things — I asked this specifically with Coleman in mind. Not only was he physical as heck (those triceps are the size of a small island) but his maneuverability in space was underappreciated; Gaskin is shiftier and a bit more patient, but Coleman really knew how to manipulate defenders’ angles in space.
Jeff: Call me crazy but I think Dissly is the bigger loss. Maybe he’s not under the radar enough but we went from 2 good proven blocking TEs to one. And I still have some concerns about the offensive line, especially the interior, so another reliable blocker would be really helpful. And with Hunter Bryant out the deep tight end position becomes suddenly murkier.
Brad Johnson: Coleman Shelton, especially if Trey Adams isn’t healthy enough to contribute at 100% early in the season. The loss of the original “Jake Eldrenkamp” was shockingly hard to overcome at the start of 2017; the interior of the offensive line took a lot longer to solidify than I would’ve guessed. If the presumptive left guard has to slide out to left tackle, and then the with the move of Nick Harris to center, things are a lot less settled on the offensive line than a cursory glance of returning starts and talent would suggest. Dissly is a good choice too, as [Jeff] mentions. A really solid blocker, lots of experience, and again, a position that looked like it had too much depth in 2017 gets seriously thin with his loss and Bryant’s injury.
Jeff: I totally forgot about Coleman Shelton which I guess proves the point of this exercise.
Andrew Berg: I’m concerned about the loss of Keshawn Bierria for two reasons. The first is that he was such a smart, productive defender. His instincts allowed him to cover up for mistakes by others all over the field and that’s not an easy skill-set to replace. The other reason is that it has a chain effect that creates shaky depth at the LB position (Gabey’s note: and this discussion happened before the Kaho Catastrophe of 2K18 happened). Bierria’s graduation led to Tevis Bartlett moving primarily from SAM to an inside position. Unproven Myles Rice and Amandre Williams will battle for playing time there. All-world freshman Ale Kaho looks like one of the better alternatives at each LB position except Buck. DJ Beavers has had health problems and Camilo Eifler transferred. If one linebacker gets injured or is otherwise ineffective, it is probably the position worst equipped to deal with that attrition.
[Blah blah blah, and then we get off-topic for a bit]
Brad: Bierria is a good choice. For me, I need to see if it’s his actual production that’s going to be missed, or just the idea of a multi-year starter. I thought he was completely absent for a big chunk of last year at the beginning of the year (and the stats bear that out — he had 12 total tackles from the Fresno game through the ASU game, and seven of those came against Colorado with no recorded stats in three of them). That’s not to minimize him as much as it sounds like; I think it’s more that the design of the bulk of the offenses the team sees in the conference coupled with the design of the defense that reduce the importance of those two inside spots — when you can trot out guys like Vea, Greg Gaines, and Elijah Qualls in front of them anyway.
Jeff: Yeah I don’t think Bierria is a big loss. His loss will be felt emotionally as I’m not sure there’s a clear emotional leader on the D.
Also was going to say the same about Tevis — is he going back outside if Wellington and Beavers are healthy?
Kirk: The answer is an unequivocal “that depends.” Assuming Beavers and/or Wellington are healthy, then the equation becomes which is better: Tevis inside and Rice/Williams/? outside, or Beavers/Wellington/? inside and Bartlett outside.
Jeff: Yeah I’m very intrigued with how that shakes out. I had high hopes for Amandre Williams, hope he can start making an impact this year.
Andrew: I have seen two references to Tryon getting a look at Sam this year. He’s a big boy to move around that much but everyone says he’s a great athlete. Hard for me to picture without seeing it.
Gabey: Kaleb McGary to Sam confirmed.
Jeff: Tryon is very intriguing and apparently had a good spring camp. But he’s still a raw redshirt frosh. Plus I don’t know how much of his “breakout” spring was because he got a pick six on what could have been a terrible pass right to him.
Brad: The other thing to keep in mind about “breakout spring stars” is that there are two kinds: The first ones are guys that have great springs. The second are guys that get mentioned by coaches once or twice in the first few practices, then the beat reporters and bloggers like the guys for Dawgman write four or five articles about said player, then ask the coach for an update about the player each day after practice, effectively forcing the coaching staff to talk about this “breakout” player every day. The player is then determined to be a “bust” when he isn’t named all-league, nor even in the two-deeps.
Problem is that it’s hard to determine which is which.
In other words, we have no idea. I’m still sticking with my guns and going with Lavon Coleman, though.
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.