Today the linebackers.
PROJECTED PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
Starter — E.J. Savannah Sr.
Backup — Josh Gage, Sr.
Starter — Donald Butler, Sr.
Backup — Trenton Tuiasosopo, Sr.
Starter — Mason Foster, Jr.
Backup —- Fred Wiggs/Matt Houston, each Jrs.
BIGGEST QUESTION? Can this position live up to the hype as maybe the best on the team?
With the return of four seniors who have significant starting experience, this is UW’s deepest and most proven group. Now it has to play like it to help mitigate youth and inexperience at some of the other spots.
Obviously giving the LB corps a big boost was the return of Savannah, the leading tackler in 2007 before the mysterious departure of last season and subsquent return. Nick Holt’s system isn’t the same as the previous staff’s, but Savannah is expected to play what is essentially again playing the weakside LB spot he did earlier in his career.
Foster thrived at the weakside last season — strongside means to line up on the side of the tight end, weakside on the other — but is moving to the other side due to the return of Savannah and what the coaches think is a better overall fit for the group. It also means he’ll often be closer to the line of scrimmage potentially in a position to rush the passer more. That’ll also allow Savannah to play at the spot where he’s most comfortable.
Butler will man the middle backed up by Tuiasosopo. Butler, however, also has experience on the outside which gives this unit its good depth and versatility. An injury to one of the other two and Butler could move over with Tuiasosopo moving to the middle.
I know some of you are tired of me pointing out the lack of success of the team the last few years, especially the defense. Still, you can’t ignore the fact that while this should be a strength of the team and could be one of the better LB corps in the Pac-10, reality is that this group, like every other, will have to learn to win and not just put up numbers. But if the UW defense does indeed take a big step up this season, it’ll be this group leading the way.
COMFORT LEVEL (Again, this is on a scale of one being most comfortable, 10 being least). 2. As noted above, the deepest and most experienced and proven unit on the team, and the one area where the Huskies could survive an injury or two.
That three are seniors (correction from earlier writing), along with another key backup in Josh Gage, means this is a position that will need some attention in recruiting this year and will be young next season. But that’s a concern for another day.
Today the linebackers.
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