With spring football growing ever further into the rearview mirror, time to look at five key questions that still face the Huskies as they enter the heart of the off-season. …
1, Who will play free safety? Fifth-year senior Will Shamburger is the obvious candidate, entering the spring atop the depth chart after starting last season there, as well, before the now-departed Justin Glenn took over. But UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said consistently throughout the spring that there was no real depth chart for the secondary and that the job would likely remain open deep into fall camp. That obviously indicates Shamburger did not close the door on the deal and some of the other players competing in the secondary — guys like Tre Watson, Brandon Beaver, Trevor Walker and Taz Stevenson — will be given every chance to win the job.
2, Is Keith Price really back? If you read this space regularly last year, you know my take was always that Price’s success in 2011 was helped great by the personnel he had around him, and that his struggles last year were also influenced greatly by the issues of some of the personnel he had around him. So assessing Price is also an assessment of the offense. As such, Price is well-positioned for a rebound — as appeared evident with his play for most of the spring — as the UW offense appears better-constructed this season, with a veteran offensive line, a proven running back, proven elite talents at WR (Kasen Williams) and TE (Austin Seferian-Jenkins) and some highly-touted young receivers coming in to bolster the depth at that spot. Price’s skill set also seems a good match for the move to more up-tempo, no-huddle offense. So yes, there’s a good chance Price will be back in 2013 — with a lot of help from his friends.
3, Is the offensive line set? It was easy to assume there might be a lot of shuffling on the line during the spring, given the struggles it had throughout the 2012 season. Instead, the starting five appeared the same throughout the spring — left tackle Micah Hatchie, left guard Dexter Charles, center Mike Criste, right guard James Atoe and right tackle Ben Riva. Hatchie, Charles and Riva were all 2012 starters, so it made sense they would enter the spring at the same spot. Each then held on to that spot throughout, appearing to solidify themselves for good at those positions for 2013. Criste from RG to center to take over for the graduated Drew Schaefer, with Atoe taking over for Criste. Criste, in particular, appeared to make the position his own and may be hard to unseat even when the likes of Erik Kohler, Colin Tanigawa and Shane Brostek get fully healthy for the fall. Kohler and Tanigawa are each returning starters attempting to come back from knee injuries, and their health will likely determine how quickly and seriously they can contend for starting jobs. For now, though, UW a pretty set starting five entering the fall.
4, Will all of the players who sat out the spring be back in the fall? The list of potentially big contributors who sat out the spring is long, including DE Hau’olia Jamora, DT Lawrence Lagafuaina, DE Pio Vatuvei, RBs Jesse Callier and Deontae Cooper, LB Travis Feeney, and the aforementioned Tanigawa. The good news is that UW coach Steve Sarkisian said following the spring game that none have suffered any setbacks in rehab and all appear on course to returning in the fall. That doesn’t mean the expectation should be that they all are immediately 100 percent full-go on the first day of fall camp — that would be unrealistic and players such as Jamora and Cooper, who have suffered multiple knee injuries and been out for multiple seasons, will have a long road to travel to get back to where they were — expectations should be tempered for what they can contribute until they are back on the field and contributing. But the good news for now, based on Sarkisian’s comment, is that all should be able to at least give it a go this fall.
5, Will Austin Seferian-Jenkins miss any games this season? As the legal update on ASJ published earlier this week on the blog shows, it is still not known what criminal punishment he will receive for his March DUI arrest. So how much he will be punished by the school won’t likely be determined until that process is finished (though that doesn’t mean it will be made public). Given the nature of the crime, assuming he is found guilty, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t miss a game or two. But for now, it remains conjecture.