WE DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Welcome to the 30 Day Countdown which means that we are now officially within one month of the return of Washington Huskies football. Coach Pete’s presser was this morning. Fall camp starts tomorrow. There are only 4 Saturdays left without a UW game. Feels good, doesn’t it?
For those of you who don’t know how this works, we’ll be counting down to start of the season with a different topic each day for you to vote on. And to start things off, coming on the heels of all of our position previews, we’ll be settling what is UW’s strongest position group for the 2019 season. And the nominees are...
Yes, the Huskies had both their outside corners leave for the NFL and get drafted but with Jimmy Lake still on staff you know the Dawgs should be able to consistently reload. Myles Bryant is the face of the returners on defense and was a 1st team preseason all-conference pick. Keith Taylor got a ton of playing time last year and per PFF allowed the fewest yards per snap of any returning Pac-12 corner with the requisite minimum snaps. All indications are that Elijah Molden is going to explode sooner rather than later as a likely NFL selection whether it be as a slot corner or on the outside.
Behind those three you have Dominique Hampton and Kyler Gordon, the latter of whom is one of the biggest physical freaks to ever play under Coach Pete. No matter who it ends up being it seems very likely that the Huskies will be able to run out at least 4 above average corners to mix and match against nearly every opponent and situation.
Gone is the greatest runner in school history (from at least a counting stats standpoint) in Myles Gaskin. So how is this possibly one of the strongest positions? Because Washington brings back the other 4 backs that received a carry last season. Salvon Ahmed has the chance to be a star as the most electric featured Dawg on offense since John Ross. The coaching staff will hope his athleticism will shine through despite not looking like a typical bell cow back. Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant were solid in increased playing time with injuries to Gaskin and Ahmed last year and either seems ready to carry the ball 15+ times in a game should they need to be called upon.
The new faces in the room are redshirt freshman Richard Newton and true freshman Cameron Davis who don’t have an easy path to playing time but could break through on the depth chart with a big fall. Newton in particular looked good in the spring and might be able to challenge Kamari Pleasant as the bigger back in the rotation.
This group definitely has its flaws but when you return almost literally the entire position group then you have to be considered in the running. Every wide receiver that saw the field last year returns to the team, although Alex Cook switched positions. Five players (Aaron Fuller, Andre Baccellia, Ty Jones, Chico McClatcher, and Quinten Pounds) all have at least 400 career receiving yards. While none appear to be a superstar 1st round NFL draft pick type of talent they all have experience and know the offense.
Behind that group there is also a massive well of unproven talent which fans are hoping will bubble to the surface. Marquis Spiker, Austin Osborne, Trey Lowe, and Puka Nacua were all top-300 overall prospects that either redshirted or were still in high school last year. The odds would suggest that at least one of those guys or Terrell Bynum break out to to supercharge the position next to all of the steadier veterans.
The O-line may have lost their right tackle in the 1st round of the NFL Draft but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say they essentially return 5 starters. Jared Hilbers will take over for Kaleb McGary on the right side of the line after filling in admirably for Trey Adams during his back injury last season. Everyone else has at least a full year of starts under their belt with seniors Adams and Nick Harris, junior Luke Wattenberg, and sophomore Jaxson Kirkland. This group has under performed slightly given expectations the last few years but if there’s a season where everything gels then you’d expect it to be this one.
If someone should go down to injury there are a pair capable backups in the Henry’s, Roberts and Bainivalu, who each played at least 65 snaps last season. Roberts played between 8-20 snaps at left tackle for nearly half of the games last year while Bainivalu was on the field a few times per game in the back half of the season as an eligible receiver in 6 OL heavy packages. It seems unlikely that any of the freshmen (redshirt or otherwise) will see the field this season but there is a ton of talent coming up through the ranks as well.
What is UW’s Strongest Position Group?
This poll is closed
I’m going with the Offensive Line. Returning 5 guys who started multiple games last season when at least 2 of them seem like all-conference type starters is something I can’t ignore.
Outside Linebacker- Would’ve made it if I still considered Potoa’e an OLB instead of a DL.
Tight End- I feel confident in Bryant and Otton being at least above average guys but when you have to convert someone to the position just before the season because your depth is too thin that might be a sign you don’t deserve to be in the running.