On Nov. 7, the Washington Huskies will take the field against Pac-12 North rival Cal.
That’s pretty much all we know.
With fall camp practices almost exclusively closed to the media, much of UW’s personnel decisions — especially on offense — remain a mystery. The Huskies must break in a new head coach (Jimmy Lake), offensive coordinator (John Donovan) and starting quarterback (umm, pass) this fall.
But there will be new starters (and fan favorites) in other areas as well.
So, as Nov. 7 nears, let’s take a crack at projecting UW’s offensive depth chart.
Kevin Thomson | GS | 6-1, 200 OR
Jacob Sirmon | RS-SO | 6-5, 240 OR
Dylan Morris | RS-FR | 6-0, 200
Ethan Garbers | FR | 6-3, 215
Analysis: If you were a hoping for clarity at the quarterback position, you’ve come to the wrong place. With UW’s fall camp essentially closed to the media, it’s exceedingly difficult to ascertain which Husky signal callers are pulling ahead. And last Friday, Lake suggested as many as three quarterbacks could conceivably play against Cal.
“If we go into the game and we still like three of them, then maybe all three are going to play,” Lake said. “If we like two guys, then two guys are going to play. If there’s a clear leader, then that guy will be the starter.”
Now, it’s probably safe to assume three UW quarterbacks won’t actually see the field on Nov. 7. But graduate student Kevin Thomson, redshirt sophomore Jacob Sirmon and redshirt freshman Dylan Morris could all realistically make the start. At this point, it feels like Thomson — the oldest and most mobile option — may be the slight favorite. But if you’re looking for a dark horse candidate, don’t discount Dylan Morris.
Richard Newton | RS-SO | 6-0, 210
Sean McGrew | RS-SR | 5-7, 175
Cameron Davis | RS-FR | 6-0, 205
Kamari Pleasant | RS-SR | 6-0, 230
Sam Adams II | FR | 6-1, 190
Jay’Veon Sunday | FR | 6-0, 200
Analysis: It’s not quite an embarrassment of riches, but running backs coach Keith Bhonapha’s stable appears plenty sturdy as UW adopts a pro-style, run-heavy scheme. After tying the team-lead with 11 total touchdowns last season, Newton is set to start — and perhaps prove he’s more than a glorified goal-line wrecking ball. McGrew dropped 11 pounds this offseason and should provide a shifty, versatile change of pace. And Davis — who managed just two carries for six yards in two games last season — is a bonafide breakout option, a smooth redshirt freshman who could steal carries (and maybe even a starting job?).
Behind a physically formidable offensive line, Lake’s intention is obvious. He wants to run the ball and mercilessly break undermatched Pac-12 opponents. And, in 2020, he might just have the tailbacks to do it.
Terrell Bynum | RS-JR | 6-1, 190 OR
Rome Odunze | FR | 6-3, 205
Marquis Spiker | RS-SO | 6-3, 200
Taj Davis | RS-FR | 6-1, 195
Ty Jones | RS-JR | 6-4, 200
Austin Osborne | RS-SO | 6-2, 200
Sawyer Racanelli | FR | 6-2, 210
Puka Nacua | SO | 6-1, 210
Jordan Chin | RS-SR | 6-0, 170
Jalen McMillan | FR | 6-1, 185
Analysis: Washington’s starting quarterback — whoever he is — won’t lack for intriguing targets. There’s redshirt junior Ty Jones, who’s flashed in fall camp after essentially losing the 2019 season to an injury. And there’s Puka Nacua, who made big plays in his freshman campaign before breaking his foot. And there’s Terrell Bynum, who proved a reliable option late last season. And there’s Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan, a pair of undeniably talented true freshmen. And there’s redshirt sophomores Austin Osborne and Marquis Spiker, who are both out to prove they belong in the mix.
Or, in other words, there’s too many hungry hands and not enough snaps to satisfy.
Don’t be surprised if Odunze — a 6-3, 205-pound athletic anomaly — snags a starting spot at some point.
But in a room this deep, someone’s bound to be unhappy.
Here’s to hoping it won’t be Washington football fans.
Cade Otton | JR | 6-5, 240
Devin Culp | RS-SO | 6-3, 245
Jack Westover | RS-SO | 6-3, 245
Mark Redman | FR | 6-6, 250
Mason West | FR | 6-4, 225
Jack Yary | FR | 6-6, 250
Analysis: Here comes Cade Otton. Without departed tight end Hunter Bryant to attract targets, the 6-5, 240-pound Otton is set to make some significant statistical strides. In his first two seasons in Seattle, he recorded 45 catches for 518 yards and five scores — showcasing reliable hands, plus blocking ability and a knack for dragging helpless defenders for extra yards along the way. Like Drew Sample and Will Dissly, Otton appears to possess a complete skill set that will appeal to NFL scouts. But, even in a shortened season, he’ll now be granted an opportunity to prove it.
But, in a scheme that will undoubtedly rely on multiple tight ends, Otton can’t do it all alone. Redshirt sophomore Devin Culp has yet to record a college catch, Jack Westover was just awarded a scholarship this offseason, and Mark Redman, Mason West and Jack Yary are all true freshmen who will be forced to physically adapt in a hurry.
Under first-year position coach Derham Cato, the depth of this group will be called into question. Culp, Westover, Redman and Co. need to answer that call.
Jackson Kirkland | RS-JR | 6-7, 295
Troy Fautanu | RS-FR | 6-4, 315
Roger Rosengarten | FR | 6-6, 280
Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale | RS-SO | 6-6, 355 OR
Nate Kalepo | RS-FR | 6-6, 330
Gaard Memmelaar | FR | 6-4, 295
Luke Wattenberg | RS-SR | 6-5, 300
Matteo Mele | RS-SO | 6-5, 300
Myles Murao | FR | 6-3, 330
Henry Bainivalu | RS-JR | 6-6, 335
Julius Buelow | RS-FR | 6-8, 325
Geirean Hatchett | FR | 6-4, 295
Victor Curne | RS-SO | 6-3, 330
Corey Luciano | RS-JR | 6-4, 295
Samuel Peacock | FR | 6-6, 270
Analysis: On the offensive line, Washington is riddled with question marks.
Even its returning starters are assuming new positions, as Jaxson Kirkland moves from right guard to left tackle and Luke Wattenberg slides from left guard to center. Henry Bainivalu has started two career games at right guard, and left guard Ulumoo “M.J.” Ale and right tackle Victor Curne have logged a combined 20 games in backup roles.
The good news? The group’s ceiling may be higher than any UW offensive line in recent memory. Kirkland appears to be a natural fit at left tackle, Wattenberg brings needed dependability to the center spot, and Ale and Bainivalu tout a combined 690 pounds of physical ferocity.
As much as we love to dwell on the quarterback position or the skill players that surround it, UW’s success under first-year offensive coordinator John Donovan may hinge on the progression of its offensive line. Scott Huff needs to convert all of those question marks into exclamation points.
And, if he does, the siren should keep sounding inside (an empty) Husky Stadium this fall.