Filling their roles
Let’s not sugarcoat it: Washington hammered Boise State into the ground last Saturday. The Huskies dominated on both sides of the ball, but couldn’t have put up 38 points without their lethal offense, which improved leaps and bounds from last year.
Washington has a number of established offensive threats: the hyper-athletic Kasen Williams at wide receiver, the shifty Bishop Sankey at running back, and the monstrous Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end.
The only problem last year was almost the entire offense ran through these three players. And while all three will undoubtedly play huge roles for the Huskies this season, Washington will be significantly better now that Keith Price has other options.
The smallest and least hyped of Washington’s incoming wide receivers, John Ross smashed expectations Saturday with four catches for 39 yards, while also returning two kicks for 41 yards.
Consistently singled out by the coaching staff as one of the hardest working freshmen, Ross is versatile and can get open.
When it was announced Austin-Seferian Jenkins would be suspended the first game due to his DUI incident, Husky Nation held its collective breath. Price would need other targets. Little was expected of replacement tight end Josh Perkins, but he caught a touchdown pass and blocked well.
While it’ll be good to have ASJ back, it’s nice to know Washington isn’t totally barren at the position after him.
The Huskies have a great deal of talent behind Sankey on the depth chart, albeit all of it unproven.
On Saturday Dwayne Washington stepped up and proved for real what he’d flashed in spring practice: the ability to be a solid backup back. Racking up a respectable 52 yards of rushing with a touchdown, Washington is no slouch as a ballcarrier when Sankey will need a breather.
Washington’s beatdown of the Broncos doubled as Jaydon Micken’s coming out party. Mickens had nine catches for 109 yards. Fast and athletic, Mickens wasn’t much of a contributor last year, but has finally put together his physical tools and clicked with Price.
A home run threat every time he catches the ball, every team this year will be mindful of Mickens from now on.
Those were the four surprise heroes of the MAACO Bowl rematch.
But they’re not the only ones who should take pressure off Washington’s offensive big three. Although they played less, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Jesse Callier, and Deontae Cooper all got offseason accolades and will be itching to prove they can contribute.
Stringfellow was UW’s highest-profile recruit and is an outstanding physical athlete who can compete in the Pac-12 immediately. Cooper is finally healthy and looking to show why he merited so much hype a few years ago.
And Callier, recovered from his ill-timed ACL tear, will be gunning for the starting spot he was so close to last season before going down.
Now that opposing defensive coordinators will have to gameplan for more than three players, Washington just got a lot harder to defend.
If the Dawgs can stay healthy and Keith Price can keep his head, this team has no limits offensively.