Washington this morning released the Week 1 depth chart for the opener against Kent State and it doesn’t contain all that many surprises although there are a few in there. A reminder that offensive tackle Jaxson Kirkland is ineligible for week one and the expectation is that in week two he will slot back in at left tackle while Troy Fautanu will replace Nate Kalepo at left guard. (Why does Kirkland have to miss a game? Because that was the result when the NCAA spun their pointless punishment wheel.)
UW's depth chart for the opener against Kent State: pic.twitter.com/u81kcp0Ig4— Mike Vorel (@mikevorel) August 29, 2022
The biggest outright surprise is that WR Taj Davis is listed as the starter over Ja’Lynn Polk. Most thought it was largely written in stone that Odunze, McMillan, and Polk would be the starting receiver trio but Davis snuck in at the wire. Last season Davis got extensive playing time due to injuries (among them Polk) and has seemingly been able to use that experience to help earn the starting spot. In DeBoer and Grubb’s offense though the Huskies will play 5 or even 6 receivers a decent amount of time so expect both Polk and Jackson (plus maybe Alexander) to still get their snaps.
The only other surprises come due to the OR designation. It was viewed as a tight battle throughout camp between Jeremiah Martin, Bralen Trice, and Zion Tupuola-Fetui at the edge spots. Apparently it was close enough that the staff didn’t feel the need to split hairs between ZTF and Trice. Expect all 3 of the edges to play extensively while Sav’ell Smalls rotates through as well. Martin’s status as a clear starter might’ve been guessed when he was announced as a captain this weekend.
At tight end the coaches have spoken as if Culp and Westover were just about equal on the depth chart and I thought we might see them listed as co-starters. But Culp got the nod over Westover which adds some upside to the passing game.
There’s also an OR at the punter spot (open the full tweet above to see the special teams) where walk-on Jack McCallister very much pushed incoming Idaho State transfer Kevin Ryan. Given the way the coaching staff has spoken about McCallister over the last month it seems like a good chance that he is given a scholarship after the year and made the starting punter going into next year after Ryan graduates.
There’s also liberal use of OR at the backup spot on the 2-deeps to create 3-deeps at several spots. The coaches have already said publicly that Morris would be the next QB to enter the game but Huard is still listed as essentially tied with is close to what has been said about the closeness of the competition there. Ulumoo Ale as of this weekend wasn’t back to full practice yet so we’ll see if he’s limited at all in week 1 coming back from an injury. It seems clear the staff intends to rotate heavily at defensive tackle with 6 players listed on the 2-deeps.
A few younger players are also mentioned in the secondary by virtue of an OR extend the list. Redshirt freshmen Vince Nunley at safety and Dyson McCutcheon at corner both show up at those spots. McCutcheon in particular was a question mark given that he signed at UW to play the nickel spot in Jimmy Lake’s defense formerly held by players like Myles Bryant and Elijah Molden which has transformed to bigger players like Dom Hampton under DeBoer.
It’s also worth noting that Giles Jackson will once again handle punt return duties. Last season Trent McDuffie started the year as the returner but ceded those opportunities after getting hurt and missing a game.
For those paying attention to such things, all but one of the 9 incoming transfers that were brought in by the coaching staff appear on the 2-deeps. Listed as starters or co-starters are: QB Michael Penix Jr., RB Wayne Taulapapa, LB Cam Bright, CB Jordan Perryman, and P Kevin Ryan. Listed as backups are: RB Will Nixon, WR Lonatta Alexander Jr., and LB Kris Moll. The lone player who didn’t make it is RB Aaron Dumas although it should be noted he was beat by 2 of the transfers on the list and so one of them was destined to get left out.