Pac-12: Colin Porter

Washington spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
5/14/12
6:30
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2011 overall record: 7-6
2011 conference record: 5-4 (3rd, North)
Returning starters: Offense: 8; defense: 7; kicker/punter: 0

Top returners
QB Keith Price, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Kasen Williams, S Sean Parker, CB Desmond Trufant, DT Danny Shelton, DE Josh Shirley

Key losses
RB Chris Polk, OT Senio Kelemete, WR Jermaine Kearse, DT Alameda Ta'amu, LB Cort Dennison

2011 statistical leaders (*returner)
Rushing: Chris Polk (1,488 yards)
Passing: Keith Price* (3,063 yards)
Receiving: Jermaine Kearse (699 yards)
Tackles: Cort Dennison (128)
Sacks: Josh Shirley* (8.5)
Interceptions: Sean Parker* (4)

Spring answers
1. For the defense: Coach Steve Sarkisian rebuilt his defensive staff around star coordinator Justin Wilcox, and the early returns are promising. And not just because of the coaches. There's more talent on defense than the Huskies showed during a terrible 2011 campaign. The chief task this spring, however, was blending in the new coaches -- five of them, including offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau -- with the players and Sarkisian's ways.

2. Secondary not an issue: The Huskies have some folks who can play -- and have played -- in the secondary, starting with cornerback Desmond Trufant and safety Sean Parker. There's also Justin Glenn, Greg Ducre, Will Shamburger and Tre Watson, a transfer from Central Washington. Plus, touted safety Shaq Thompson arrives in the fall, and redshirt freshman Travis Feeney is promising.

3. Not unskilled: There was reason entering spring to fret about the skill positions, other than quarterback. The Huskies lost running back Chris Polk as well as receivers Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar. But, after spring, things seem at least solid. At tailback, it's probably going to be by committee with Jesse Callier and Bishop Sankey, as well as junior-college transfer Antavius Sims and redshirt freshman Dezden Petty. And maybe Deontae Cooper comes back healthy? At receiver, James Johnson, Kasen Williams, Cody Bruns, who redshirted last season, and Kevin Smith (if healthy) give the Huskies a solid crew. Some redshirt freshmen and intriguing incoming players could also get into the mix.

Fall questions
1. Oooooo-Line? The Huskies should be welcoming back four starters, but guard Colin Porter was forced to retire due to injuries, and other guys were beat up this spring. If Colin Tanigawa, who missed all of spring with a knee injury, tackle Erik Kohler and center Drew Schaefer all come back healthy, then things should be OK. But that remains to be seen.

2. LB woes? It's still uncertain whether the Huskies will be primarily 3-4 of 4-3 on defense, so we don't know how things will shake out at linebacker. We do know that the Huskies were bad there last year. Three safeties -- Taz Stevenson, Nate Fellner and Evan Zeger -- moved to LB to bolster things, while John Timu, Princeton Fuimaono -- both returning starters -- Thomas Tutogi, Garret Gilliland and Jamaal Kearse are in the mix. Next to the offensive line, this is a position where fans should feel free to be concerned.

3. Backing up Price? Redshirt freshman Derrick Brown is No. 2 at present, mostly by default. But two touted freshmen arrive in the fall: Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles. Brown improved over the course of the spring, but the freshmen are good enough to challenge him immediately. And, keep in mind, the No. 2 QB isn't important until he becomes your most important player.

Huskies lose OG Colin Porter

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
12:00
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Washington's offensive line took a big blow this week with the forced injury retirement of offensive guard Colin Porter, a two-year starter.

Here's the Seattle Times report, which notes "Porter is suffering from 'degenerative arthritis' in each of his shoulders." And, by the way, he played all last season, despite the condition. So, yeah, this is a tough guy here.

The Huskies were set up to have four returning starters on the line in 2012, losing only left tackle Senio Kelemete to graduation. Now that number is three, and there are other injury concerns, most particularly guard Colin Tanigawa, who tore his ACL at Oregon State on Nov. 19 and is questionable for the 2012 season. Further, right tackle Erik Kohler is nursing nagging injuries and is limited while playing second-team guard this spring.

That leaves just senior center Drew Schaefer manning his 2011 spot this spring.

When you add in the loss of RB Chris Polk, it's reasonable to wonder about the Huskies' running game in 2012.

Coach Steve Sarkisian is a big believer in a physical running game. The Huskies rushed 452 times last year, compared to 406 pass attempts. With junior QB Keith Price entering his second year as a starter, it's hard to believe those numbers won't at least reverse.

That, of course, means more exposure for Price to getting hit. The Huskies, despite a veteran line, gave up 34 sacks last year, which ranked 98th in the nation. You might recall that Price struggled with nagging injuries much of the 2011 season, in large part because of that spotty protection. Further, with the transfer of Nick Montana, the Huskies' backup QBs, which could end up being a true freshman, have no game experience.

So let's just say it would be a good thing for Washington for Tanigawa and Kohler to get healthy. And for some young guys to step up and show their stuff this spring.

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