A look at how the Huskies' depth chart is shaping up 10 days before the season opener against Auburn.
Zero touchdowns, 15 turnovers. Yes, indeed, it was a rough start to fall camp for the Washington offense.
Through the first five practices this month, the Huskies’ defense, with its nine returning starters from the Fiesta Bowl and a secondary as talented and deep as any in the country, shut out its offensive counterparts.
To be fair, that is fairly common early in camp, when the offense is installing new plays and the defense only does two-hand-touch tackling.
“It can be frustrating at times,” senior tight end Drew Sample said. “With the guys they have back there on the front seven and obviously on the back end they have a lot of returners. So they definitely make us earn it, and that makes it that much more satisfying when we do get stuff going on offense.”
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The same thing happened in 2016. Coming out of camp then, there was so much uncertainty about what the offense could be that season that midway through the season-opening blowout of Rutgers, a relieved John Ross turned to Dante Pettis on the UW sideline and remarked: “Hey, we don’t suck!”
The 2016 Huskies went on to set a school scoring record and the program won its first conference championship in 16 years.
First-year offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan liked how his offense responded this month.
“I think it’s been a good battle throughout camp. I really do,” Hamdan said. “That’s one thing I’m really proud of this offense is (when) you don’t start well, we’ve battled back — and I think that’s progress.”
Here is a look at how the UW offensive depth chart is shaping up, 10 days before the No. 6 Huskies open the season against No. 9 Auburn in Atlanta:
Jake Browning, sr., 6-2, 210
Jake Haener, rs-fr., 6-0, 196
Jacob Sirmon, fr., 6-5, 221
Colson Yankoff, fr., 6-4, 209
Jacob Eason, jr., 6-6, 227-x
x-must redshirt in 2018 per NCAA rules
OUTLOOK: Jake Browning has been just about everything Chris Petersen has wanted in his quarterback, and Browning enters his fourth year as the starter trying to build confidence in the young receivers around him. Look for a solid bounce-back season for the 2016 Pac-12 offensive player of the year.
Myles Gaskin, sr., 5-10, 193
Salvon Ahmed, so., 5-11, 195
Sean McGrew, so., 5-7, 174
Kamari Pleasant, so., 6-0, 204
Malik Braxton, jr., 5-10, 197*
Richard Newton, fr., 6-0, 195
Jamyn Patu, fr., 5-11, 203*
OUTLOOK: We know what Myles Gaskin can do, and he will have a chance to cement his place among UW’s all-time greats in 2018. Gaskin isn’t sure we’ve seen all Salvon Ahmed can do. “I don’t think anybody’s seen it yet,” Gaskin said. “I’ve seen him do some things like, Man, did you just do that?” Could be a special year for UW’s running backs.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: There is no noticeable separation between Sean McGrew and Kamari Pleasant, the two third-year running backs, for the No. 3 job, and both have shown enough in camp to think they could command a greater role in the offense. “From the first day I saw Sean come in, I thought he was a real patient runner,” Gaskin said. “I kind of saw some of my game — and I see some things he can do that I can add to my game. He’s very patient and he’s always had very good feet. Sean is a complete back. … And Kamari has taken a ginormous step. I knew it was always there. He’s just getting comfortable and I’m happy to see a guy coming along like that.” Braxton, a first-year walk-on out of Meadowdale High School, has been a pleasant surprise with the No. 3 and No. 4 offense.
Aaron Fuller, jr., 5-11, 186
Quinten Pounds, jr., 6-0, 180
Austin Osborne, fr., 6-2, 194
Alex Cook, rs-fr., 6-1, 192
Chico McClatcher, jr., 5-8, 176
Terrell Bynum, rs-fr., 6-1, 194
Trey Lowe, fr., 5-8, 184
Max Richmond, sr., 5-10, 181*
Ty Jones, so., 6-4, 209
Andre Baccellia, jr., 5-10, 173
Jordan Chin, so., 6-0, 171
Marquis Spiker, fr., 6-3, 180
John Gardner, sr., 6-3, 193*
OUTLOOK: It’s clear who the top five receivers are: Aaron Fuller, Ty Jones, Chico McClatcher, Andre Baccellia and Quinten Pounds. If healthy, Jordan Chin could push for a regular role. Redshirt freshman Terrell Bynum is intriguing, though like Chin he has battled injuries. Among the true freshmen, Austin Osborne was the most consistent during the first 10 days of camp. “The thing that’s exciting is we have a lot more depth than we had last year,” receivers coach Matt Lubick said. “We’ve got eight or nine guys who all know what they’re doing, and they’re all competing. And that drives everybody else. It’s a competition that makes everyone better and it inspires guys too.”
BREAKOUT CANDIDATES: Prediction here is Fuller and Jones will rank 1-2 in receptions this season. Fuller has been the most dependable receiver since the spring. Jones has the most upside. “A big thing with (Jones) is confidence,” Lubick said. “Last year, he was a true freshman and he was thinking instead of playing, which is typical of a freshman. Now he knows what he’s doing, so his athletic ability is starting to come out. I love his vibe and he’s made a lot of plays for us.”
Drew Sample, sr., 6-5, 251
Jacob Kizer, so., 6-4, 264
Cade Otton, rs.-fr., 6-5, 249
DeShon Williams, sr., 6-2, 230*
Jusstis Warren, jr., 6-2, 249
Devin Culp, fr., 6-3, 232
Michael Neal, jr., 6-4, 245
Jack Westover, fr., 6-2, 229*
x-Hunter Bryant, so., 6-2, 224
OUTLOOK: In the short term, the Huskies will be OK without Hunter Bryant, the standout sophomore who had knee surgery in early June. Could they use him against Auburn? Of course they could, but that’s not going to happen. The big question is when Bryant will return, and indications early in camp were that he could be back at some point this season (Nov. 3 vs. Stanford, perhaps?). It’s unlikely we’ll know if and when he does return until it happens.
BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: Senior Drew Sample will be one of Browning’s favorite targets, and redshirt freshman Cade Otton could be a top option by the end of the season too. Otton, the grandson of legendary Tumwater High coach Sid Otton, had a great spring and continued that into fall camp. “He was arguably the MVP of spring ball,” tight end coach Jordan Paopao said. “It really isn’t a surprise to me with his football background, everything with his dad coaching and Grandpa Sid. He’s a football player, and then to be able to work under Drew and see how it goes. He already had great habits, and I definitely see him taking a step in a really, really impressive direction this year.”
Trey Adams, sr., 6-8, 316
Henry Roberts, jr., 6-6, 303
Jared Hilbers, jr., 6-7, 313
Luke Wattenberg, so., 6-5, 307
Devin Burleson, jr., 6-8, 333
Nick Harris, jr., 6-1, 300
Jesse Sosebee, sr., 6-5, 306
Matt James, sr., 6-5, 300
Jaxson Kirkland, rs-fr., 6-7, 315
Kaleb McGary, sr., 6-8, 324
Henry Bainivalu, rs-fr., 6-5, 321
OUTLOOK: If everyone is healthy, four of the five spots on the line are set. Right guard, as it has been the past several season, could be an ongoing competition between fifth-year senior Matt James and redshirt freshman Jaxson Kirkland (and perhaps others). James has experience now, and Kirkland is the projected long-term starter. Junior Henry Roberts, the Bellevue High product, is the versatile sixth man — likely as the primary backup at both spots on the left side — and redshirt freshman Henry Bainivalu could be that guy for the right side. Trey Adams, the preseason All-America, took more and more reps with the No. 1 offense as camp progressed, and he appears determined to be back on the field Sept. 1.