We continue the countdown with a player who fills a position that should prove vitally important to UW this year — cornerback Desmond Trufant (in a Dean Rutz photo from last year against UCLA).
It could probably be argued that Trufant should be a dual entry along with fellow cornerback Quinton Richardson. Both started all 13 games at CB last year and are entrenched in those spots again heading into this season, experience at a key position that should allow the UW defense to be more aggressive and varied than in past seasons — the two have combined to start 52 games in their UW careers, giving the Huskies the most experience it has had at cornerback in years.
But for the purposes of this exercise, we will pick Trufant while offering a nod to the value that both should bring to the Huskies this season.
Trufant struggled early last season (details here), but like a lot of the rest of the defense, seemed to play his best ball in the second half, particularly the final four-game winning streak. Trufant and Richardson each seemed to play even better in the spring, seeming to earn even more confidence from the coaches.
It’s been noted often that other than against WSU the Huskies didn’t really play any top-flight (or healthy and at the top of their game) QBs in that final stretch, and that Cougar QB Jeff Tuel had a pretty nice outing against UW (25-35, 298, three TDs).
The Huskies fave some good QBs to start the season, including Hawaii’s Bryant Moniz — who led the nation in total offense last season with 5,040 passing yards — in the second week. So we’ll find out early if the late-season defensive surge was more a reflection of UW improvement or opponent weakness. The play of Trufant and Richardson will go a long way toward determining the tilt of that arrow.