All week here at Sportspress Northwest, we’ll break down the different units that comprise the Washington football team. A look back and a look forward for the (gasp!) 7-6 Huskies of 2010. An overview of the defensive line:
What was believed prior to the season: A problem area. The 2009 pass rush was pitiful despite having Washington all-time sack leader Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. Cameron Elisara and Alameda Ta’amu were expected to stuff the middle. The pass rush, well, where that was going to come from was a question.
What we saw during the season: A lot of rotation and mixing along the defensive line. The ends in particular were an issue. Ta’amu struggled through most of the season prior to becoming a force at the close, particularly against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Washington finished tied for last in the Pac-10 in sacks. If not for creative blitz packages, sacks would have rarely happened. The line had just 11.5 combined, less than half of the team’s 23. The final game of the year was their best, but they were a negative for most of 2010.
What’s next for this group: Should be better times ahead. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt was emphatic the lack of depth he so often cited was about to change. Ta’amu, whom the coaches think can be first-team All-Pac-10, will be a senior starting point. Semisi Tokolahi will be in the mix at tackle, along with Sione Potoa’e and Chris Robinson. Washington will also need to find a way to keep Hau’oli Jamora on the field for as many snaps as possible. He can move around and proved as a freshman he is ready to go. Everette Thompson should return to the outside after being forced inside by injuries this season. The two secret weapons will come out next year: Josh Shirley and Andrew Hudson. Despite being thin all season on the line, Washington was able to survive and redshirt each. Holt mentioned that duo throughout the season. Expect Jamora to be moved around the same way the coaches used Te’o-Nesheim. A guess at the depth chart (years represent class during 2011 season):
Thompson, Sr., 6-6, 244
Shirley, RS-Fr, 6-3, 222
Ta’amu, Sr., 6-3, 330
Potoa’e, So., 6-2, 285
Jamora, So., 6-3, 238
Tokolahi, Jr., 6-2, 297
Hudson, RS-Fr., 6-3, 231
Crichton, Jr., 6-3, 246
Holt would like to rotate around nine healthy bodies on the line. He’ll finally have the depth to do so in year three on the job.