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Huskies fail to land "offensive" wide-body
Running game is headed South; no J.C. punter
By: Richard Linde, 4 February 2003

With this recruiting season coming to an end, there shouldn’t be any surprises when letters of intent are faxed to the Tubby Graves Center on Wednesday. Although the Huskies are bringing in a highly-rated recruiting class, they failed to obtain a commitment from a high-profile offensive lineman. The UW desperately needed someone with the credentials of a Winston Justice to jump start its running game or, at the very least, someone to provide a backup capability.

Apparently, none of the 11 offensive linemen listed in the Tacoma News Tribune’s Western 100 (2003) are going to Washington. The most highly-regarded offensive lineman from that bunch, Drew Radovich (6-foot-5, 285, San Diego), also a Parade All-American, is going to USC. Sam Baker (6-5, 320, Tustin, Calif.) is also headed to USC. From this list, USC has persuaded four offensive linemen to commit, while Stanford has received two commitments.

Last season, the Huskies finished next to last in the Pac-10 in rushing offense, averaging 74.5 yards per game (113th in the nation). On the plus side, the Dawgs averaged over 5 yards per offensive play last season, while averaging 420.7 yards-per-game offensively, which was third best in the Pac-10. The Huskies led the Pac-10 in passing, averaging 346.2 yards per game.

According to the pundits, the Huskies were too one-dimensional last season and, not surprisingly, partially due to that fact, the Dawgs finished the season with a 7-6 record. The Huskies finished fifth in the conference in red-zone offense.

In 2001, Pac-10 champion Oregon averaged 196.5 yards on the ground. This last season, co-champions USC and Washington State averaged 142.5 yards and 129.2 yards rushing respectively.

With these numbers in mind, if the Dawgs expect to win the Pac-10 in 2003, they will need to double their rushing numbers from last season, to, say, 150 yards-rushing per game. Can OL Francisco Tipoti (photo above) jump start the Dawgs’ running game? We’ll find out during spring ball.

The prospect of having a successful kicking game for next season is another weakness inherent in this recruiting class.

The Huskies failed to land a punter from the J.C. ranks to replace Derek McLaughlin (sophomore), who left school after the Sun Bowl to take a Mormon mission. Instead, the Dawgs recruited Sean Douglas (6-1, 195) from Bellevue, Nebraska, who can function as either a kicker or punter. Also, they landed Michael Braunstein, a kicker from Gilbert, Arizona, a member of the Tacoma Tribunes’ Western 100. Both Douglas and Braunstein will be true freshmen next season.

Whoever punts for the Dawgs in 2003 can expect heavy pressure in his first game when the Huskies play the defending-national champion, Ohio State. The Huskies suffered five blocked punts in the 2001 season when McLaughlin was a true freshman, one in the opener against Michigan.

  

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