Time to continue our review of UW’s position groups at what is sort of the midway point of spring practice, today looking at the defensive line.
As always, first a really unofficial depth chart of what it’s appeared to look like during spring ball:
Andrew Hudson, 6-3, 249, Jr.
Connor Cree, 6-4, 245, So.
Inj. — Hau’oli Jamora, 6-3, 260, Jr./Pio Vatuvei, 6-2,, 281, So.
Josh Banks, 6-2, 265, Sr. OR
Sione Potoa’e, 6-2, 271, Sr.
Drew Schultz, 6-1, 254, Jr.
Danny Shelton, 6-1, 317, Jr.
Tani Tupou, 6-1, 272, So.
Inj. — Lawrence Lagafuaina, 6-0, 317, Jr.
DEFENSIVE END (Or rush end)
Josh Shirley, 6-3, 230, Jr.
Jarett Finau, 6-2, 260, So.
Damion Turpin, 6-3, 256, RFr.
Shirley, Hudson and Shelton are all returning starters from last season and have so far appeared to hang on, if not further solidify, those spots early on in spring.
The biggest battle for a starting spot this spring is at the tackle spot, which last season was held primarily by the graduated Semisi Tokolahi, between Banks and Potoa’e. The two were trading off early in spring before Potoa’e was then limited with a finger injury that didn’t appear serious.
If you saw the video interview last week with DL coach Tosh Lupoi, though, you know that he remains on the look out for some help at all the spots (I’ve re-posted the video below for anyone who missed it).
UW’s hope, in attempting to battle the continuing surge of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses, is to develop as deep of a rotation up front as possible. So while guys like Hudson, Shirley and Shelton may have significant roles locked up, UW will need a lot of other help up front to be an effective defense this season.
Getting each of the three injured players — Jamora, Vatuvei, Lagafuaina, all out with knee injuries — back will help greatly.
As Lupoi says in the video below, he also expects each of the four incoming true freshmen to contribute immediately, if not compete for starting spots.
Certainly, the rest of spring will prove critical for the backups at each of the spots to make their move before the true frosh arrive.