Montlake is a fantastic place to play college athletics. University of Washington fans are some of the most passionate and loyal around, and unless a player gets in Venoy Overton-type trouble, Husky Nation will defend him or her to the death.
With that said, the purple and gold faithful can still be heard grumbling from time to time, about a few players more loudly than others.
Where did Teeth Price go? The bullet passes, the elusive running, the dazzling smile that charmed a nation? Somewhere in-between his 56th interception and 32nd sack*, the outpouring of love Price generated during his prodigious 2011 season evaporated.
Calls for Price’s head started midseason and reached deafening levels after Price blew the Apple Cup and MAACO Bowl back-to-back to end the season. Washington fans called for Cyler Miles, Troy Williams, Jeff Lindquist, or anyone to take over next year. But Price played well enough in spring training to hold onto the starting spot.
He’s been given a second chance by Steve Sarkisian, but the critics are waiting in the wings.
Like most people, I love what Austin Seferian-Jenkins brings to the team: an unstoppable mismatch at tight end. The big man has received a slew of preseason awards and All-American nominations, but also, a DUI and 24 hours in jail, to be served July 31st.
I understand that ASJ is a young male college student, and from firsthand experience I know that chunk of the population is prone to making stupid decisions sometimes.
But with NFL scouts lurking and ASJ slated to be a major part of Washington’s offense this season, it’s simply unacceptable behavior. It was dumb of him, and he rightfully is accepting all the criticism he’s gotten.
A good kicker is like a mostly-reliable car. It works almost all the time, to the point where you don’t even think about it failing, but anytime it breaks, the timing couldn’t be worse.
A kicker feels the same pressure: relatively little praise for making kicks and disproportionate blame for missing them. That’s why I’m not fully condemning Travis Coons, even though he missed the game winning field goal in the Apple Cup.
But Coons has certainly heard a fair amount of harsh criticism for missing what was a make-able kick.
I’d never heard so many people talking about how much they missed Erik Folk.
The Offensive Line
It’s unfair to single out a single player on one of Washington’s most-maligned units, since the line as a whole was universally lousy. Husky Nation yelped indigently at their television sets many a time, as opposing defenses played Whack-A-Mole with Keith Price.
The line deserved the criticism, but was also dogged by injuries and inexperience.
Things should be better in 2013. Should.
The Defensive Line
As you can gather, Washington was not a team that won games in the trenches last season. There were some downs where I put more pressure on the quarterback than the defensive line.
That’s a slight exaggeration, but the only weak spot of Washington’s otherwise stellar defense was the mediocre D-line.The good news, like the O-line, it should be back better than ever, returning healthier and more experienced.
Washington fans can get testy sometimes, but the good news is none of the above (well, maybe Price) is truly getting too much flack. The signs are bright for next season in Montlake, as is Husky Nation’s attitude.
*Statistics may be wildly exaggerated and/or completely made up.