Yesterday we tackled the strongest position groups on the roster to kick off our 30-day countdown and today we’ll look at the flip side of the coin with the weakest position groups.
If you count Tevis Bartlett as an ILB (since he played the majority of the time there last year), then the Huskies are losing almost 1,700 snaps off last year’s team at the inside linebacker position. Ben Burr-Kirven was arguably the best ILB in the country and his loss will be felt acutely. Bartlett had his issues adjusting to playing inside but he’s gone as is D.J. Beavers, who took a medical retirement. Brandon Wellington will need to be the rock for this unit but he’s struggled with injuries in the past. There’s a decent chance that former walk-on Kyler Manu will start the year at the other spot with a pair of redshirt freshmen in M.J. Tafisi and Jackson Sirmon playing more as the year goes on. Washington brought in a lot of talent at this spot in the 2019 class but it may be too soon to count on any of them.
After the amazing run of Danny Shelton, Vita Vea, and Greg Gaines, it appears there’s finally a chance the Huskies won’t have a premium space eater in the middle of the D-line. Levi Onwuzurike felt underutilized last season given the amazing flashes he showed but it’s unclear if he can be that kind of player down in and down out. Benning Potoa’e is making the move from OLB to DL and we expect a smooth transition but he still has to be considered a bit of a question mark. The rest of the rotation are either veterans who weren’t on scholarship at some point (Josiah Bronson and John Clark) or else freshmen at probably the second hardest position for a freshman to make an impact behind the O-line. Taki Taimani and Tuli Letuligasenoa are the favorites to slot in at nose tackle and both have strong high school pedigrees but are far from certainties. UW’s 2019 D-line recruiting class was potentially the best in school history but it probably isn’t a good sign to see any of those players burn their redshirt and be called upon this quickly.
Both the starters from last season are gone with the departures of JoJo McIntosh and Taylor Rapp. The cupboard isn’t completely bare. Junior Brandon McKinney got playing time as the third safety, as well as one start in place of Rapp in the Rose Bowl. Isaiah Gilchrist saw a few snaps here or there as the fourth safety last year but is also a junior and should be ready to contribute. If those two win the starting jobs then the depth is 100% unproven. RS freshman Julius Irvin is one of the most highly rated DB recruits of the Chris Petersen era, while Asa Turner and Cameron Williams are true freshmen with a chance to see legitimate playing time. It’s a warning sign, though, having true freshmen in the 2-deep given Petersen’s preference towards preserving redshirts and relying on veterans early in the season.
There are certainly high hopes for the starting quarterback this year but the truth is that the entire QB depth chart has only played a combined 34 snaps for the Washington Huskies. Jacob Eason was one of the most highly rated prospects at QB coming out of high school in the last decade, but there were some serious flaws in his game in his one year at Georgia. He also has been unable to separate from Jake Haener, who has a fraction of the arm talent and pedigree and who struggled mightily in his only non-garbage time action (there are some massive caveats to be inserted there, but still). It’s possible that both are incredible and the loser of the QB battle would be starting on many other teams in the conference, but there is certainly room so far to be skeptical. Redshirt freshman Jacob Sirmon and true freshman Dylan Morris were both 4-star recruits as well but neither appears ready to play this season.
What is UW’s Weakest Position Group?
This poll is closed
Inside Linebacker. There are just the fewest number of experienced bodies at this spot relative to available playing time than anywhere else.
Kicker: depth at kicker isn’t really a thing for most programs. You either have one or you don’t. But Peyton Henry is likely at least a C+ option and even if he struggles with distance, true freshman Tim Horn’s leg should be a boost on kickoffs and give the team the option of attempting a long field goal here or there.