Washington Husky Roundtable Discussion Part II

UW Dawgfan HuskiesCorrespondent IJune 5, 2008

Linebacker and leading tackler of the Washington Huskies, EJ Savannah, broke his arm and is out for three months. How does his loss affect the defense assuming he will not break back into the lineup by opening day?

The loss of Savannah hurts, no doubt, but the fortunate thing is that this team is deep at the linebacker positions.

Aside from the starters Don Butler and Tui, the reserves have game experience with Houston, Gage, Foster, and Stevens, who have a knack for making plays.

Don’t get me wrong, Savannah will be missed; he has natural instincts to the ball and a thirst for collisions. I believe that this is not a fatal blow to the defense, but it will delay Donatell from consistently showing a 3-4 front.

Can Quarterback Jake Locker make similar strides in the passing game during his sophomore year to that of Tim Tebow?

Usually when a QB makes a giant leap in progression, it is between his freshman and sophomore years. Let’s hope that is the case for Locker.

Locker showed last year that he has unbelievable athletic ability and leadership on the field, but what he didn’t show, was the ability to get the ball to his receivers in positions for them to, in turn, makes plays.

Many in Seattle compare the progression of Locker to that of another Husky, Mark Brunell. Brunell struggled with his accuracy as a freshman, but came back his sophomore year as a different quarterback, and led this team to an eventual National Championship.

These expectations are a little too high for this team, but not out of the range of possibilities with a QB like Locker.

Losing Anthony Russo, and Marcel Reece to graduation forces a group of very young wide receivers into starting roles. Which of the young WRs will step up and take some of the pressure off Jake Locker?

I see Chris Polk stepping up, and the reason is that this kid can play the game. He is a great athlete whom the Huskies will be moving around to create mismatches on the field.

Whether in the backfield or spilt wide, Polk will have a chance to make some plays in space. He will become a safety blanket for Locker, catching the ball within five yards of the line of scrimmage and make something happen.

Another equally exciting player is D’Andre Goodwin.

Goodwin has the experience, the speed, and the ability to be a big time player this year. He has shown all through camp that anytime Goodwin gets his hands on the ball, there is always the threat of a TD.

Should RB Brandon Johnson be a workhorse or should Tyrone decide on running back by committee shuffling on fresh legs?

Johnson is the only RB on the roster with significant experience and looked good in stretches last year. There really isn’t enough known about the other backs to suggest that Johnson shouldn’t at least start the season as the full time runner.

Johnson is a hard downhill runner with a low center of gravity who runs with a purpose. The only negatives I see in Johnson are his small size and the lack of big plays produces, which may just be a function of sporadic playing time behind Rankin last year.

The Huskies defense was abysmal last year. Is there any reason to suspect a turnaround this upcoming season?

The short answer is that the defense couldn’t get any worse, so there is only one way to go from here. Up!

The defense will be better this year with the new scheme under coordinator Ed Donatell. Donatell brings different looks and coverage that are aimed at confusing the offense and an attacking mentality.

Also, the defense will be infused with some fresh talent that should re-ignite the fire that the UW defense was built upon.

Players like Nate Williams, Mason Foster, E.J. Savannah, and Daniel Teo’Neshiem should be enough to turn this defense around.