Head Coach Kalen DeBoer as well as Offensive Coordinator Ryan Grubb and co-Defensive Coordinator Chuck Morrell all met with the media this afternoon. Washington’s pro day is tomorrow while spring practices begin on Wednesday. The official spring roster also received an update yesterday. Suffice to say there’s a lot going on. Here’s what you need to know.
Adding Injury to Injury
There were several Huskies who are banged up right now. The biggest news was that DeBoer confirmed the rumor that Edefuan Ulofoshio suffered a serious injury during winter conditioning. That injury is expected to not just knock him out for the spring but also for at least some games in the fall. Ulofoshio missed the 2nd half of this past season with a separate arm injury.
Linebacker was already perhaps the thinnest position on the roster and now the Huskies have lost their most experienced returning player for at least the beginning of next season if not the entire year. Pittsburgh transfer Cam Bright who just started classes this week and Carson Bruener should be the expected starters with Daniel Heimuli as the primary backup. Alphonzo Tuputala and JUCO transfer Demario King will likely compete for that 4th linebacker spot. Washington absolutely can’t afford another injury at this position.
Kalen DeBoer says ILB Edefuan Ulofoshio will miss the spring due to injury and also will miss "some games" this season. Big loss for the Huskies, who are quite thin on experienced linebacker depth.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) March 28, 2022
No Running It Back
It looked like running back might be one of the deepest positions on the roster at least from a numbers perspective though not a returning production view. That has changed as the only 2 returning rotation players from last year are both out for spring. Richard Newton tore his ACL during the year so his absence was expected but Cam Davis also has an injury which will knock him out over the next month although both are expected to return by the fall. Emeka Megwa also suffered a leg injury in the fall which is not healed enough yet to allow him to return. Finally, Sam Adams II is listed as limited.
That means 7 scholarship players is down to just 3 and Grubb today noted in the past they have gone with a 2-back system. New Mexico transfer Aaron Dumas will have a great chance to lock in substantial playing time this spring as will returners Jay’Veon Sunday and Caleb Berry. Coach Grubb also noted that last year’s 4th string QB Camden Sirmon has been moved to running back presumably in part to improve the depth there and allow for the team to function properly in practices this spring.
With Cam Davis, Richard Newton and likely Emega Megwa sidelined for spring — and Sam Adams II also limited — there should be a ton of reps for Aaron Dumas, Jay'Veon Sunday and Caleb Berry.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) March 28, 2022
A Less Offensive Line
Coaches Grubb and DeBoer helped provide a little more clarity around the offensive line rotation for next year. Unfortunately the biggest puzzle piece is still a mystery as Jaxson Kirkland has not heard back yet on his waiver to the NCAA. He is still enrolled at Washington though and if he gets approval he would be able to re-join the team presumably as the starting left tackle.
In Kirkland’s absence for the time being at least Grubb suggested that Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten will each get reps at the left tackle spot. Although Rosengarten will also could play right tackle per Grubb. The frontrunners at the center position appear to be Geirean Hatchett and Corey Luciano although former top recruit Myles Murao is also in the mix there as well. Grubb noted that
Kalen DeBoer says OL Jaxson Kirkland is enrolled at Washington but is still waiting to hear back on a waiver request to play in 2022.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) March 28, 2022
Ryan Grubb said Roger Rosengarten can play both left and right tackle due in part to his athleticism.— Lars Hanson (@LarsHanson) March 28, 2022
When asked about the center competition, Grubb mentioned Corey Luciano, Geirean Hatchett and Myles Murao.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) March 28, 2022
Ryan Grubb says there's "as much talent on the offensive line as anywhere on the football team." Which, given that group's performance last season, is notable.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) March 28, 2022
The Weights, They Are a Changing
When you stop and think about it, it’s bizarre how fixated college football fans are about the weight fluctuations of 19 year olds. Nonetheless, extreme changes in weight as part of the offseason strength and conditioning program is one of the clear signals for when a player might be in for a major change in role. Here are some of the biggest differences from the start of fall camp to now which is approximately 7-8 months.
5 Biggest Weight Gains (6 with ties)
DL Noa Ngalu 275 to 299 (24 lbs, +9%)
EDGE Sav’ell Smalls 250 to 265 (15 lbs, +6%)
DL Tuli Letuligasenoa 300 to 313 (13 lbs, +4%)
CB Dyson McCutcheon 170 to 181 (11 lbs, +6%)
RB Jay’Veon Sunday 195 to 206 (11 lbs, +6%)
S Vincent Nunley 180 to 191 (11 lbs, +6%)
5 Biggest Weight Losses
DL Siaosi Finau 315 to 266 (49 lbs, -16%)
WR Jabez Tinae 205 to 185 (20 lbs, -10%)
EDGE Zion Tupuola-Fetui 260 to 241 (19 lbs, -7%)
TE Caden Jumper 265 to 249 (16 lbs, -6%)
EDGE Jordan Lolohea 265 to 249 (16 lbs, -6%)
The most noticeable changes are the ones along the defensive front. It wasn’t a matter of players consistently bulking up or slimming down at the same position group which might indicate a wholesale shift at the desire from the coaching staff. It appears to be more of a shift at the individual level. Noa Ngalu and Tuli Letuligasenoa appear to be getting ready to play more as a nose tackle run defender. Tuli entered college at close to 330 and had worked hard to get down to 300 but it seems the coaching staff might’ve thought he lost too much weight. Ngalu entered around that 275 mark and has been there for a few years but has finally gotten up closer to 300.
On the other Siaosi Finau looks like he might be in line for a shift from defensive tackle to the edge has he dropped nearly 50 pounds which is an incredible amount in less than a year. Hopefully that was intentional getting rid of bad weight rather than something else leading to severe weight loss but it completely changes what kind of role might be envisioned for him versus when he came in to the program.
There was also a mix on the edge as Sav’ell Smalls has bulked up to 265 and is more in line with what we often saw from the Chris Petersen OLB types like Ryan Bowman. If he was able to keep his speed/athleticism while putting on 15 pounds of muscle we could be ready for the breakout season we’ve wanted since he stepped foot on campus. Smalls was the only edge player that put on weight. On the other side ZTF and Lolohea each dropped between 15 and 20 pounds. During ZTF’s dominant season he was listed in camp at 280 pounds even if he never played at that weight. Now he’s at 241. We’ll find out if he’ll be able to keep up his devastating bull rush move at the lower weight.
Ryan Grubb, on the guys who jumped out on practice/game film and need to be heavily involved: Jalen McMillan, Rome Odunze, Ja'Lynn Polk, Jack Westover and Devin Culp. He called the running back room "unproven." "We have a lot of work to do there."— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) March 28, 2022
RE: the cornerback room, Chuck Morrell said that's an unproven room but said Mish Powell has been a leader this offseason. Also mentioned Elijah Jackson and Jordan Perryman.— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) March 28, 2022
Kalen DeBoer says he wants his running backs to be versatile. "It isn't like we're just handing off inside zone to this guy."— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) March 28, 2022
Justin Glenn laid out some UW traditions to Kalen DeBoer.— Lars Hanson (@LarsHanson) March 28, 2022
DeBoer noted he helped a lot with recruiting in December and since then he's continued to be a key person for DeBoer and the program.