Follow us:

Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

January 20, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Washington Huskies 2014 outlook: Defensive line

Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton takes down Idaho State quarterback Justin Arias for the first sack of his career. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton earned all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

A position-by-position analysis of the 2014 Washington Huskies roster before national signing day on Feb. 5. Today: Defensive line. Monday: Linebackers. 

2013 review: No position had more question marks coming into the 2013 season than the defensive line, and no unit performed above and beyond expectations than did the D-line. Hau’oli Kikaha and Evan Hudson emerged as perhaps the two biggest surprises on the team, each starting every game; Kikaha was named UW’s defensive MVP and a second-team all-Pac-12 selection, finishing the season with 13 sacks, tied for the second-most in program history — and all that coming off two major knee injuries that wiped out most of Kikaha’s previous two seasons. Hudson, who at 6-feet-5, 277 pounds fits the length and height that is all the rage on Pac-12 D-lines these days, made the switch from tight end and seemed to grow more comfortable in the new role each week. Nose tackle Danny Shelton was as consistent as anyone for UW last season, earning all-conference honorable mention and capping the season with a dominant performance in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

2014 projected spring depth chart:

End
Hau’oli Kikaha, sr., 6-3, 250
Joe Mathis, so., 6-4, 250
Jarett Finau, jr., 6-2, 263

Tackle
Evan Hudson, sr., 6-5, 277
Taniela Tupou, jr., 6-1, 281
Damion Turpin, 6-3, 260
Drew Schultz, sr., 6-1, 268

Nose tackle
Danny Shelton, sr., 6-1, 327
Lawrence Lagafuaina, jr., 6-0, 334
Elijah Qualls, rs-fr., 6-2, 293

Stand-up end/outside linebacker
Cory Littleton, jr. 6-3, 230
Josh Shirley, sr., 6-3, 232
Marcus Farria, so., 6-5, 235

2014 outlook: Like the offensive line, the D-line returns its starting unit in its entirety — a great starting point for new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, who will run a scheme similar to what Justin Wilcox had implemented at UW the past two seasons. UW had 41 sacks in 2013, second-most in the Pac-12 (to Stanford’s 44), though credit goes to the entire defense in that. UW also ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in allowing 161 rushing yards per game, fifth in the Pac-12; the Huskies will surely hope to improve upon that next season. Establishing depth, as with any line, will be a priority heading into the 2014 season. Losing junior Connor Cree, who has opted to give up football, is a bit of a blow, but the Huskies have quality reserves, with more help on the way. Shirley, a former blue-chip recruit, showed flashes as a veteran backup last season while playing through some minor injuries, and two freshmen — Mathis and Farria — got sporadic playing tie in their first season. One UW insider was high on all three of the true freshmen from last season (including the Qualls, who redshirted), and noted that Farria has a chance to eventually be “the next Kai Ellis,” after working closely with the former UW standout last fall.

Position grade: B+

Previous positions:
Quarterbacks
Running backs
Wide receivers
Tight ends
Offensive line

0 Comments

COMMENTS

READER NOTE: Our commenting system has changed. Find out more.

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►