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Day 12: The Big Fat Hit of the Year

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In which we examine who’s most likely to crush an opponent’s soul.

UCLA v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Welcome to Day 12 of The 30 Day Countdown. Today’s topic: big hits.

I’m not talking about the most important tackle, or the most soul-destroying mentally, or the most game-changing — I’m talking solely the kind where you watch the victim go from standing up to completely flattened in one frame.

In other words, I’m talking BritainCovey2018.gif*.

I suppose, in that way, today’s topic should include the asterisk that there’s so many players that tackle well on this team that, since I can’t include all of them, we’ll all probably be wrong. But at least we can start mentally preparing for how fun it’ll be when The Hit of The Season happens.

Let’s get to it.

*Sidenote: Britain Covey is a monster who I will always admire after Utah-Washington 2018, and I sincerely hope nobody ever has to go through the beating he took over and over again.

Who lays the most bone-crushing hit in 2019?

Joe Tryon — OLB

I’ll spoil the list now: No defensive linemen from any further inside than 5 tech are making this list. That’s because, typically, they’re so humongous that A) they’re not gonna destroy an opponent in .001 seconds so much as they’re gonna smother said opponent into the turf and B) they’re pretty hard to miss, visually.

No, the key to a soul-ending hit in the backfield is speed and surprise. Who better to serve that dish up than a physically startling human being coming from the edge? And who better to be that human being than Joe Tryon?

Besides the fact that he clearly made big strides the latter half of last season and so should be a significant part of an improved Husky pass rush, Tryon’s powerful and quick-twitch enough to beat linemen and tight ends plus speedy enough to get to a running back or pocketed quarterback fast once in the backfield. Furthermore, his strength and size relative to one of those positions means he is more than physically capable of flattening a guy in one swoop as opposed to having to drag him down. As far as edge rushers’ ability to lay the hit that makes us go “Owwww...,” those are kinda the prerequisites. And he has those traits coming out the, ahem, wazzu.

If we’re looking for someone coming for a monster sack from the blindside or around the right tackle, there’s no shortage of likelihood that it’s Tryon.

Ariel Ngata — OLB

Like Tryon, but little. (Or, ya know, relatively.)

The reason why my gut says Ngata might be more lethal in this category than Tryon is the size comparison; while Tryon’s 6’5,” 262 lbs, Ngata’s roughly two inches shorter and 50 lbs lighter. Sure, that sounds like a disadvantage (and, in fairness, Ngata’d almost certainly benefit from adding some weight), but when it comes to smacking the shit out of someone in a blink? Quickness is on your side, and quickness is certainly on Ngata’s side. And, while Ngata’s probably not gonna see as many snaps in obvious running plays since his (again, relatively) diminutive stature isn’t ideal for protecting the edge, his quickness and shorter-than-Tryon-ness puts him in a better position for whiplash-inducing hits when a quarterback’s involved. Speed aside, the most perfect tackles — both for efficiency and complete opponent decimation — are hit mid-low height. And, not to spell it out too obviously, but it’s a bit easier getting there when you’re not 6’5.” God, that may be the most condescending-sounding thing I’ve ever written, and for that I apologize.

Anyways, point being, while Tryon’s probably gonna have better stats and be a more complete all-around edge defender, Ariel Ngata’s better built to go all Cory-Littleton-v-Mike-Bercovici on someone’s ass.

Cade Otton — TE

For offensive nominees, it seems like Otton’s kinda the perfect candidate whether on a full-speed block or as a Steve Largent-style hit on a defender running back an interception — the latter of course is irrelevant as no Husky quarterback will throw a single interception this year.

There’s really not anything to elaborate on here other than the fact that Otton is a prototype Washington tight end, which could also be referred to as “he loves to beat the crap out of people.” So, who better to beat the crap out of someone than a player who’s job description is to do just that?

Myles Bryant — DB

This is where the fun starts. What’s more fun to watch than a huge dude crushing another, slightly less huge dude? Howabout a tiny dude crushing someone after getting a 20 yard sprinting start?

As the only full-time returning starter in Washington’s secondary, we’re all familiar at this point with Bryant’s ability to hit disproportionately to his 5’8,” 185 lb frame. Bryant’s propensity (by Kwiatkowski and Lake’s design) to be shot through a cannon into the backfield showed he’s not afraid to hit much bigger guys hard. His missile-like nose for the ball-carrier showed he’s not afraid to hit much bigger guys hard. His willingness to charge running backs head on showed he’s not afraid to hit much bigger guys hard. Simply put, Bryant’s tackling ability + instincts + acceleration + low-center of gravity works in his favor.

Plus, with it looking like he’ll move to safety full time with Elijah Molden taking his spot at nickel, Bryant will find himself more often in position to scan the field with his eyes towards the quarterback and let his anticipation take over. That means he gets to close from the back end with decisiveness, which leads to better acceleration, which leads to more pants-crappingly hard hits. That’s just science.


Poll

Who will have the crushing hit of the year?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Joe Tryon
    (193 votes)
  • 9%
    Ariel Ngata
    (56 votes)
  • 2%
    Cade Otton
    (17 votes)
  • 26%
    Myles Bryant
    (149 votes)
  • 26%
    Other (there’s just too many options!)
    (153 votes)
568 votes total Vote Now

The Verdict

Myles Bryant — DB

I kept going back and forth between him and Ariel Ngata on this, but the tiebreaker was that Bryant’s victims are more likely to more often be vulnerable in the open field; while a theoretical Ngata-laid hit in this category is more likely to be against a quarterback, a hit by Bryant that qualifies here is likely against a wide receiver in the middle, especially on some kind of crossing route. No doubt a quarterback can be quite vulnerable, but at least they have the chance to have pocket awareness and see something coming, whereas few offensive targets are as ripe for the picking as a receiver in the middle of the field. (Not to mention the latter is usually smaller, too.)

Think about all the hits you’ve seen in those circumstances. Then think about how many of those look extraordinarily painful. Then combine that with how Bryant plays and his move to safety... you get it. Ngata’s more physically built to lay someone out as mean as possible, but Bryant’s more spatially likely to do so.

Although, when 2019’s all said and done, there’s just so many people who are likely to destroy someone beyond the four listed here, so what’s the point in trying to guess, anyway?

Whoever it is, I’m gonna hope for his own sake that Britain Covey gets the year off. That kid deserves it.

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.