A "Titanic" class -- almost
Rich Linde, 2 February 2012
While it wasn't a Banner year for the house of
Husky recruiting, the coaches found a Shaq to house their class in.
(Credit Ted Miller, ESPN, for giving me the idea) ;-)
"When anyone asks me how I can best describe my
experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of
course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like.
But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident... or any
sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all
my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was
I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any
sort." E. J. Smith - 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic
What about the offensive line
and recruiting this year?
"You know all the clichés? `You have to win in the trenches.' `It all
starts up front.' All those? They're clichés because they're true," UCLA
coach Jim Mora has been quoted as saying.
"Football is a physical,
demanding sport that demands great toughness. If you can't win the
battle of the line of scrimmage, it's going to be tough to win. If you
can't stop the run, you can't get off the field. You have to be pretty
damn salty up front."
Not having a 4-star/5-star offensive lineman sign a letter of intent is
perplexing; the Huskies need to sign at least one blue-chip offensive
lineman each year. Last recruiting season, the Dawgs came a cropper in
this regard, failing to sign any 4-or-5-star behemoths to the OL.
Fans were told by the recruiting
gurus to wait until 2012; this was when a couple of local, much coveted
offensive linemen would become available. Yep, and they popped up on the recruiting
sites: Zach Banner (Lakes) and Josh Garnet (Puyallup); unfortunately,
they went elsewhere, Banner to USC and Garnet to Stanford.
Signing that duo was a long shot
for a team that had won just two of its last seven games. You can't
fault Banner and Garnet for looking at warmer climes or blame the
coaching staff for not fencing off the state.
Is there a method to Sark's hiring madness?
In its 7 wins this season,
Washington held its opponents to 49.6 yards rushing, while in its 6
losses, UW gave up a whopping 307.67 rushing yards per game. Five of those six
losses came from teams ranked in the AP top 25.
UW needs to rebuild a defense
that ranked 106th in FBS football. Considering the defensive rushing
stats this past season, the defensive front four,
especially at the tackle position, is a key positional unit in the
rebuilding process. In this regard, Tosh Lupoi, who was hired as
defensive line coach and defensive run game coordinator, is widely
viewed as one of the top recruiters in the Pac-12.
An improved front four -- and pass rush -- will help
with pass defense which, of course, in itself deserves serious
Lupoi and UW's newly hired defensive coordinator,
Justin Wilcox, need to think "SEC front four" when out on the
recruiting trail and settle for nothing less.
Note that Wilcox was hired away Tennessee, which is
in SEC country.
Did Washington act as a catalyst
in Oregon's recruitment of 5-star rated lineman Arik Armstead?
In a way, the Huskies catalyzed the recruiting
process. Armstead seemed headed to Cal before Washington lured Lupoi
away from the Bears. After Lupoi left Cal, Armstead opened up his
recruitment, eventually considering the Huskies, this following a foray by their coaches (including Lupoi) in the Sacramento area.
Ironically, he chose Oregon, Washington's most hated rival, which
effectively strengthened Oregon's class and weakened Cal's. Meanwhile,
the Huskies had mush on their faces.
do you think of Washington's recruiting class?
Up until the final week of the
recruiting period, the Huskies seemed headed towards the proverbial
iceberg, until a phenomenal mid-course correction was made. After
almost shearing off some ice, the lumbering "Titanic" appearing rudderless, the
RMS Sarkisian crossed the Atlantic with all boilers lit, pulling in a
class rated 22nd in the nation by scout.com and 5th in the Pac-12.
Rivals.com ranks it 20th in the nation. (Photo left of the Titanic's
captain E. J. Smith, who, heroically, went down with the ship).
Two 4-star quarterbacks -- Jeff Lindquist, a local
product, and Cyler Miles, out of Denver -- highlight the class.
Rivals.com ranks the Dawgs' QB class as the
second best in the nation.
Coach Sarkisian's bountiful haul proudly boasts of Shaquille Thompson (5
stars), who is rated the number one safety in the country. A capable
punter (Korey Durkey) and kicker Travis Coons, who has touchback
capabilities, replace the departing triplet of Will Mahan (punter), Kiel
Rasp (punter) and Erik Folk (kicker). Look for Pio Vatuvei (DE), Jaydon
Mickens (4-star WR), Thompson and the two QBs and kickers to play next
On the negative
side, the Huskies failed to replace Senio Kelemete (LT), Alameda Ta'amu
(NT) and running back Chris Polk (RB) with players of equal quality.
Kelemete, Ta'amu and Polk were 4-star recruits that were members of former
coach Tyrone Willingham's class of 2008.
Some back peddling here.
Arguably you could say that Mickens and Thompson, who was a running back
at Grant Union HS last season, make up for the loss of Polk in a way.
Some fans say that legacy recruit Shane Brostek (from Hawaii) is a 4-star lineman in
Willingham's trio notwithstanding, the coaches did an outstanding job of
turning the tide, which was running against them up until last week,
when the class was ranked 45th best. Not
getting all of the highly-rated local kids is no big deal -- perfectly
understandable -- and shouldn't be used to detract from an evaluation of
this class or otherwise be used to denigrate the coaches or the young
Signing 5-star recruit Shaq
Thompson is a harbinger of things to come, of being able to win the
battle for highly sought after athletes. Credit coaches Lupoi and Wilcox
for signing Thompson and coach Sarkisian for hiring them. The strong
pitch made for Armstead shows the insightfulness of the coaching staff
and its determination to build a top-25 team at Washington.
A potential-student-athlete's tour of the Washington campus should
first visit Gilmour Dobie, his likeness, and his meaning to the glory of