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Spring Football Review 2007
Malamute, 2 April 2007

Washington’s spring football practice begins on April 9 and concludes April 28 with the annual Spring Game. Five of the 15 practices will be open to the media but not to the general public. The Spring Game is open to everyone. 

Click here for the 2007 Spring Football Roster.  

In a recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, columnist Ted Miller ranked the Huskies ninth in his "spring pecking order", in a conference that for the most part should be considerably stronger than it was last season. ("Pac10 football loaded for 2007").

Unfortunately, Miller is a former Husky beat writer who may know what he is talking about. If his spring pecking order prevails, the redoubtable Miller could profoundly influence the Pac-10 media brigade and other related swami, who meet in Los Angeles each year to rank the conference teams. So, take their forecasts with a grain of salt. ;-)

To best Miller's placement, the Huskies have a lot of "must do's" to do this spring -- which would have been a good time to work out the dents in their sled and scrape the rust off its runners if it weren't for the fact the Dawgs will need a new sled, so the media will likely say in August.

-- The Huskies must stay healthy

UW returns 6 starters on offense and 7 starters on defense.

Lacking depth at quarterback, in the offensive line, at running back, and in the defensive secondary, Washington must stay healthy in 2007 -- and spring is a good time to begin that quest.

Since the positions at linebacker, wide receiver, tight end, and the defensive line are UW's strengths, we won't say much about them.

-- The Huskies must make the most of spring practice

Because the Dawgs haven’t played in a bowl game since 2002, most of the current roster has missed out on what could have been anywhere from 15 to 60 practices depending on the year in school. The NCAA permits 15 practices for a bowl game.

Recently, I told Coach Tyrone Willingham that we fans would cut him some slack for next season because of the tough schedule. "Just Win," he said, in earshot of school president Mark Emmert.

--To win, the Huskies must find some playmakers.

According to data on scout.com, only 7 players on the spring roster carried a four-star rating when they were recruited. Nary a player was rated five stars. Put in perspective, UCLA brought in 6 four-star recruits in 2007 and one that was rated five stars, in a class of just 10 players.

At the time of their recruitment, the Huskies' four-star guys are QB Carl Bonnell, QB Jake Locker, RB J. R. Hasty, LB E.J. Savannah, DL De’Shon Matthews, WR Marcel Reece, DT Cameron Elisara.

Four returning players figured in the Pac-10 statistics last season: Louis Rankin (eighth in rushing), Roy Lewis (tenth in kick return average, twenty-eight in tackles), Greyson Gunheim (ninth in sacks, fourth in fumbles forced), and Dan Howell (third in fumbles forced).

On the bright side, WR Cody Ellis, WR Marcel Reece, RB Louis Rankin, and LB Chris Stevens each made big plays in the Apple Cup, all of which contributed to a 35-32 win.

-- UW must develop some depth at quarterback

In 2004, most of the beat writers at Olympia thought that Carl Bonnell would be UW’s quarterback to be for the next four years.

Bonnell, now a fifth-year senior, has tons of athleticism and a quick release; however, injuries have hampered his career.

He started the third game of the 2004 season against Notre Dame, started the next game against Stanford and was injured in the San Jose State game the following week. He missed the 2005 season because of a deep-thigh bruise and had surgery on his off-throwing shoulder following the 2006 season. Since he's not 100%, it’s not clear that he will be able to participate in any scrimmages during the spring, but he should be able to participate in drills, this according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

Bonnell has played in 15 games for UW and has a career passing efficiency rating of 83.12, which is based on 218 passes, with 92 completions for 1144 yards, 15 interceptions and 7 touchdowns. He has a career total of 166 rushing yards, averaging 9.8 yards per game.

In 2006, Bonnell's PE was 91.49, based on 164 pass attempts, with 72 completions, 11 interceptions, 7 touchdowns and 916 yards. Bonnell's PE for the Apple Cup was 145.8.

Because of Bonnell's experience, look for him to start the opening game against Syracuse, providing he stays healthy.

Bonnell’s recent marriage has been called his “saving grace,” which, I guess, has made him more workmanlike (more willing to spend time in the film room?).

Bonnell will be pushed by redshirt freshman Jake Locker and incoming freshman Ronnie Fouch, whose registration for spring quarter allows him to participate in spring drills.

Projected to be the Huskies’ “savior” by many Montlake followers, Locker drew high praise from Willingham at an alumni function in Palm Springs a couple of weeks ago.

-- The Huskies must find some depth at running back

The Huskies have just two scholarship tailbacks, J.R. Hasty and Louis Rankin. Five running backs were signed as part of the 2007 recruiting class. Unfortunately, none of them will be tested this spring.

Luke Kravitz and Paul Homer will get some work at fullback, as Mark Palaita has finished his career at UW.

-- The Huskies must acquire some depth on the offensive line and replace two starters.

Not many of the Huskies offensive linemen pass my sight test, which I conduct at Picture Day. “Hold in your guts guys. Hey, Miss Cheerleader, would you take the pictures of the offensive linemen for me?” The big guys look much more svelte when one of the girls takes their photos for me. ;-)

Last season, QB Isaiah Stanback joked about lifting more weight than most of his OL could. At Picture Day, I asked OL Clay Walker about what Stanback had said and he told me that Isaiah was strong for a quarterback.  Coach Willingham commented on Stanback’s weight lifting numbers at Palm Springs a couple of weeks ago. 

Willingham also said that the OL is the most important position on the team.

Five players played most of the games on the OL last season. Clay Walker and Stanley Daniels, each of whom started every game, have departed. Erik Berglund played the first quarter against USC, subbing for Ben Ossai, and Casey Bulyca took the place of Walker when he went down in the Oregon game. Other than those substitutions, Ossai, Juan Garcia and Chad Macklin played in every game on every play, along with Walker and Daniels.

None of the other linemen listed on UW’s spring roster have any appreciable experience in the form of varsity letters. Not developing any depth and experience on the OL last season could be Willingham’s weakness this season.

From what I've been reading on the web, these guys most likely will make up the spring rotation:

Left tackle: Ben Ossai, Erik Berglund, Cody Habben
Right Tackle: Chad Macklin, Aaron Mason
Center:  Juan Garcia, Ryan Bush, Matt Sedillo
Right  guard:  Casey Bulyca, Ryan Tolar
Left  guard: Jordan White-Frisbee, Morgan Rosborough

As Frasier and Niles would say, "Willingham must cut the Gordian knot that has become the offensive line." But then again, what do Frasier and Niles know about football. 

Forget that iron-man stuff: The offensive linemen only work 30 minutes a week, mostly resting on defensive linemen and, after a three and out, about two minutes of work, they get to sit down.

-- The Huskies must find a punter/kicker or a punter and a kicker.

Kicker Michael Braunstein and punter Sean Douglas have finished their careers at UW. Douglas finished second in the conference in average yards per punt, 43.2 yards. Braunstein finished third in field-goal percentage, making 83.3 % of his kicks. He connected on 32 of 32 kicks on points after touchdown.

Punter Jared Ballman, a JC transfer, has enrolled for spring quarter, and will participate in practices. 

Punter/kicker Ryan Perkins suffered severely torn ligaments in his right knee in last season’s spring game, has had surgery on the knee and has undergone weeks of rehabilitation.  According to Molly Yanity’s blog (Seattle P/I, Jan 15), Perkins should be able to punt with his left foot towards the end of spring ball and be working on field goal distance in June and July. (Perkins punts with both legs but kicks with his right).

Kicker Erik Folk (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) was signed as part of the 2007 recruiting class. 

-- The Huskies must replace two starters at linebacker.

The Huskies have a lot of depth at linebacker but not a lot of experience.

They lose Scott White and Tahj Bomar, who finished seventh and thirty-first in tackles last season. White finished sixth in fumbles recovered.

Dan Howell, E.J. Savannah and Donald Butler all figure to contribute in 2007. A contingent of promising linebackers back them up.

-- The Huskies must replace Dashon Goldson and Matt Fountaine at cornerback

Goldson finished forty-fifth in the conference in tackles last season and fifth in passes defended.  Departing cornerback Matt Fountaine finished forty-eighth in tackles.

UW needs one or more of its incoming freshmen to help out in the defensive secondary, perhaps, two or three of them.

Look for Roy Lewis, Matt Mosley, Jordan Murchison, and Desmond Davis to contend for playing time. Lewis has the only significant  experience of that gathering.

-- The Huskies must replace C.J. Wallace at Safety.

Wallace, a Sunday prospect, along with Goldson, finished third in the conference in tackles last season.

Jason Wells, a starter at free safety, will be back. SS Mesphin Forrester played in nickel an dime packages last year and should see a lot of playing time this year. Darin Harris, who missed last season, is slated to return from injury.

-- The Huskies must begin to improve on a whole host of 2006 statistics, lest Miller -- Heaven help us -- be correct with his looming forecast.

Playing better football in 2007 means improved statistics. For example, throwing fewer interceptions than last season should improve on the pass-efficiency-offense number of 2006. The Huskies ranked 104th in the country in turnover margin last season.

Of the 32 statistical categories provided by the Pac-10 conference, Washington finished in the bottom half of the conference in 22 categories. Of the 20 statistical categories shown below, the Huskies finished in the bottom half of the conference in 16 of them, with an average ranking of 7.25. These numbers correlate with Washington's next-to-last place finish in the conference, in which it won 3 of 9 games.

Washington finished 10th in Pass Efficiency Defense, posting 131.3. (PED is a computation involving pass completions, yards passing, touchdowns and interceptions, all as a function of pass attempts). Even worse was Washington's pass efficiency offense (108.6), which ranked 9th in the Pac-10 and 95th in the country out of 119 teams. The national figure is in bold.

Total offense and Total Defense paralleled one another, the Huskies finishing eighth and ninth in the conference, respectively. 

1. BALL CONTROL

Time of Possession: 29:12 (7th)

2. BLOCKING AND TACKLING

Rushing Offense: 127.9 (7th) (69)
Passing Offense: 193.8 (8) (66)
Rushing Defense: 139.2 (8th) (66)
Passing Defense: 242.2 (8th) (102)
Pass Efficiency Defense: 131.3 (10th) (74)
Pass Efficiency Offense: 108.6 (9th) (95)
Total Offense: 321.8 (8th) (74)
Total Defense: 379.3 (9th) (95)

3. MISTAKES

Penalties: 42,3 (2nd)
Turnover Margin: -.67, 14; 22 (8th) (104)

4. FIELD POSITION

Kickoff Returns: 19.3 (8th) (77)
Punt Returns: 6.5 (7th) (97)
Punting (Net Per Punt): 33.9 (7th) (76)
Kickoff Coverage: 41.0 (5th)

5. SCOREBOARD BABY:

Field Goals: 83.3% (3rd)
Redzone Offense: 84,8% (5th) 
Redzone Defense: 88.9% (10th)
Points For: 21.8 (8th) (76)
Points Against: 25.9 (8th) (85)

 

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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