A position-by-position analysis of the 2014 Washington Huskies roster before national signing day on Feb. 5. Today: Offensive line. Monday: Defensive line.
2013 review: In a word, continuity. Injuries devastated the UW offensive line in 2012; in 2013, it was a much different story. Of the 65 possible starts between them, the Huskies’ regular five offensive linemen accounted for 62 combined starts last fall. That’s a fairly remarkable number and a fairly remarkable amount of experience returning next season. Four linemen — left tackle Micah Hatchie, center Mike Criste, right guard Colin Tanigawa and right tackle Ben Riva — started all 13 games. Dexter Charles started 10 games at left guard, missing three games (including the Fight Hunger Bowl) with a shoulder injury that will likely require offseason surgery. Erik Kohler started two games in Charles’ place and James Atoe started the bowl game. Tanigawa (ACL) and Riva (arm) both returned from serious injuries to play the entire season, with Tanigawa serving as a team captain. Criste, a former guard, drew solid reviews in his first season at center, earning all-Pac-12 honorable mention. Hatchie and Charles also earned all-conference honorable mention after helping to pave the way for Bishop Sankey’s record-setting rushing season.
2014 projected spring depth chart:
Micah Hatchie, sr., 6-5, 305
Jake Eldrenkamp, so., 6-5, 287
Dexter Charles, jr., 6-4, 289
James Atoe, sr., 6-6, 349
Taylor Hindy, so., 6-4, 315
Michael Kneip, so., 6-4, 277
Mike Criste, sr., 6-5, 306
Siosifa Tufunga, jr., 6-2, 305
Dane Crane, rs.-fr., 6-3, 304, so.
Cory Fuavai, so., 6-3, 303
Colin Tanigawa, sr., 6-3, 275
Shane Brostek, jr., 6-4, 278
Andrew Kirkland, rs-fr., 6-5, 306
Ben Riva, Sr., 6-6, 300
Ross Dolbec, jr., 6-6, 310
Coleman Shelton, rs-fr., 6-5, 280
2014 outlook: After a series of injuries, Kohler opted for medical retirement. His departure is a blow to UW’s depth, but the Huskies otherwise return the entire offensive line unit intact. That’s a great sign. Ideally, the Huskies would’ve been able to develop a couple more young guys — other than Kohler and Atoe, only Eldrenkamp and Brostek played regularly, and usually only in mop-up duty. So that’ll be something to look at closely in April and August, because being on five guys almost exclusively again is probably unrealistic. UW allowed 30 sacks in 2013 — eight fewer than in 2012 — which is a few more than you’d like, but not alarming. Overall, if Charles returns healthy and if one or two young guys are able to emerge as viable backups, the line could be one of UW’s biggest strengths in 2014.
Position grade: B+