There was obviously a lot of information supplied today by UW head coach Steve Sarkisian (for which, by the way, we are thankful — way better than the alternative).
So it might have been easy to miss on a few things that struck me as kind of interesting, which I’ll note again here (and no particular order, just listing five):
1, UW to look at streamlining the playbook? Near the end of the press conference, Sarkisian talked about the need to improve the drop-back passing game, something he had referenced earlier. And in that comment, he said “whether that means we run less plays this spring, that remains to be seen.” If you recall, several analysts and opposing coaches last year noted how many plays and formations the Huskies ran last season, some saying it was as many as any team they’d ever seen. UW, however, obviously had more success later in the year when it appeared they narrowed the playbook a little bit. Maybe, with breaking in a new QB and all that entails, the plan will be to simplify a little.
Sarkisian seemed to allude to that in another answer on whether the Huskies would do less of the shotgun. He said “No, I think the more things you do well, the better you are as a football team. But there’s a fine line there because you can try to do everything and not be good at anything. … we have to figure out what is the best thing that we’re good at so that we can emphasize the things that we’re best at and still have those wrinkles to our offense that make a defense have to defend us.”
2, There’s a little more clarity to the LB spot: Sarkisian gave a detailed answer to who appears where at the linebacker spot, and here’s what it apparently will look like when practice begins:
— Middle linebacker: Cort Dennison is the starter, with Tim Tucker and Victor Burnett in the mix as backups.
— Strongside linebacker: This is the spot manned last year by Victor Aiyewa. Sarkisian mentioned Jamaal Kearse and John Timu beginning at this spot, where Princeton Fuimaono and Cooper Pelluer would likely also be if healthy.
— Weakside linebacker: This is the spot manned last year by Mason Foster, and Sarkisian mentioned JC transfer Thomas Tutogi and Garret Gilliland working here along with Jordan Wallace. That’s a little bit of a move for Gilliland, who ended last year as the backup to Dennison.
3, They are going to look for ways to get Josh Shirley involved: Technically, Shirley starts out behind Hau’oli Jamora at DE, and Jamora obviously won’t be easy to budge. But Sarkisian today floated getting the two on the field together, especially in 3-4 looks, which he said will be introducted later in the spring. “We’re not going to start in it, but we’ll get to it here as spring moves on. I’m intrigued to see what a Josh Shirley and Hau’oli Jamora on the field together might look like as edge guys, and real pass-rusher type guys, and more of an NFL mentality that way. We’re not going to rush to that. We want to get our base defense in first, and then we’ll evolve to that.”
4, It’s probably going to be a while before a starting QB is named: Of all the quotes today on the QB battle, here’s probably the most illuminative on the timeline for the QB job: “I could see it going into September. I hate to rush to judgement on this thing. Because they are so young and their ceiling is so high and there’s so much room to grow, I don’t want to make a decision based on a couple of practices and say, ‘this is your role, and this is your role’. I think they could ultimately improve not only through spring, but into summer and fall camp. If the timing’s right and it feels right to me, then we’ll make a decision. I hate to pencil a date like they do for National Signing Day, where you have to decide by that date. I think kids make commitments and we make decisions when it feels right, and that’s what we’re going to do here as well.”
5, UW shouldn’t have any trouble getting to the 85-man scholarship limit: The news today of the departures of Kalani Aldrich and Mykenna Ikehara gives UW 66 scholarship players on the current roster. UW also has 21 players arriving in the fall, which obviously adds up to 87. That scholarship number, however, includes three walk-ons awarded scholarships last year — LB Jonathan Amosa, deep snapper Brendan Lopez and OL Daniel Kanczugowski. Each of those scholarships was announced as one-year renewable at the time they were awarded, so the Huskies have some wiggle room there if needed.