Washington Huskies: Shane Brostek
2012 record: 7-6
2012 conference record: 5-4 (Fourth in North Division)
Returning starters: Offense 10; Defense 8; Kicker/punter: 2
Top returners: QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey, WR Kasen Williams, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DB Sean Parker, LB John Timu, DE Josh Shirley, LB Shaq Thompson.
Key losses: CB Desmond Trufant, DB Justin Glenn, C Drew Schaefer, FB Jonathan Amosa.
2012 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Bishop Sankey* (1,439)
Passing: Keith Price* (2,726)
Receiving: Kasen Williams* (878)
Tackles: John Timu* (91)
Sacks: Josh Shirley*; Andrew Hudson* (6.5)
Interceptions: Justin Glenn, Shaq Thompson*, Marcus Peters* (3)
- Picking up the pace: We know the Huskies spent the spring installing a new up-tempo offense. How much of it was installed and how comfortable the players are running it remains to be seen. But Steve Sarkisian has made a point that his team needs to 1) do a better job keeping up with the up-tempo offenses in the league and 2) do a better job keeping teams on their heels. This philosophical switch seems to address both since the defense has been practicing against an up-tempo offense.
- Starting five: Many believe this is the best team Sarkisian has had since coming to Washington. And part of that might be that he finally has a healthy offensive line with quality depth behind the starters. The group of Micah Hatchie (LT), Dexter Charles (LG), Mike Criste (C), James Atoe (RG) and Ben Riva (RT) worked as the first-team starting five all spring. And former starters Erik Kohler and Colin Tanigawa, along with experienced backup Shane Brostek, give the Huskies quantity and quality up front.
- Progress of Price: The breakout player of 2011 and embattled starter of 2012, Keith Price, quickly shook off whispers of a quarterback competition with a strong spring that left Sarkisian feeling good about his third-year starter. He distanced himself from would-be challengers and, if he can return to that 2011 form, could have Washington in the top 25.
- After Price: It looks like Cyler Miles has established himself as No. 2 in the quarterback hierarchy, but the battle to be Price's understudy will continue into the fall with Derrick Brown and Jeff Lindquist still in the mix. The Huskies were one of only four teams in the conference last year to have the same quarterback start every game. So Price has proven his durability. But having a clear pecking order behind the starter can be equally important.
- Replacing Trufant: No easy task to replace Desmond Trufant, a staple in the Washington defensive backfield who at one point started 45 straight games. Marcus Peters is all but locked in on one side, leaving Greg Ducre and Travell Dixon battling it out on the other side. Tre Watson will also be in the mix.
- ASJ MIA: How long will Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Pac-12's top tight end, be out? Will he miss any games? He's been suspended indefinitely stemming from his DUI arrest and many are wondering if he'll miss at least the season opener against Boise State. Sarkisian pointed to the silver lining of the situation -- noting that his absence has allowed others at the position to get extensive work this spring. He also said Seferian-Jenkins is taking all of the proper steps to rejoin the team. There is little doubt he'll be the most dominant tight end in the league in 2013, and probably the country. The timetable for his return will be of great interest in the coming months.
I know every coach has a laundry list of things that they want to get done in spring. But was there one particular thing you felt like you wanted to address?
Elaine Thompson/AP PhotoCoach Steve Sarkisian says the Washington Huskies had a successful spring season, despite some distractions along the way.
Where's your confidence level with [quarterback] Keith [Price]?
SS: I felt great about Keith coming out of spring, quite honestly. Of the 15 practices we had, he might have had one that wasn't his best and another where he was just OK. But outside of that I thought he was fantastic. Bringing Marques Tuiasosopo back on board as a quarterbacks coach -- he's a guy I coached in the NFL at Oakland and he was with us here for two years when we first came on board -- bringing him back has been good and the style of coaching he has is what I'm looking for and it's consistent with myself. Keith has really responded to that. He came out and had a really good spring. He's upbeat about what we're doing offensively. I think he feels good about what we're doing up front with the offensive line and also with the wideouts and the running back situation. That genuine confidence that he has in himself, as well as his confidence in what's going on around him, is as high as it's been.
You talked about the offensive line. It seems like you guys finally have healthy depth. How nice has it been to have the same five working with the offense and then knowing you've still got Erik [Kohler] and Colin [Tanigawa] waiting in the wings?
SS: It's been huge. For myself and Dan Cozzetto, our offensive line coach, just the continuity up front of having those five guys communicate with one another, playing with one another, making decisions with one another on the fly has been big. But also for us, having depth -- and not just depth in number -- but depth in experience. You look at Colin Tanigawa. You look at Erik Kohler. Shane Brostek is a backup who has a lot of game experience as well. Really, we have eight offensive linemen who have a lot of game experience against some top-level talent who could step in and play, as well as some younger guys who are really developing. We feel really good about that position group as long as we can stay healthy.
I talked with Bishop [Sankey] a couple of weeks ago and all he wanted to talk about was how he needs to get better at everything -- very little about what he's already accomplished. What's the next step for him?
SS: Bishop is a great kid. Everyone sees what he did on the field and they see how he progressed and got better and better as the year went on and the maturity he exuded -- not only through the tough times early on -- but also in the good times late in the year for himself. The beauty of it all is you turn around and look at our GPA -- he had the highest on the team with a 3.8.
He didn't mention that when we talked.
SS: He'd be the first not to tell you that. He's such a humble kid. But it's everything he does. And it's not just on the field. It's in the classroom, it's in the community. We're seeing now more than ever the leadership he possesses, and I'm really proud of what he's been able to accomplish. I think his best days are ahead of him. There's a lot he can improve on and he's working hard at improving and we're working hard to make him better.
How much of a distraction has the situation with Austin [Seferian-Jenkins] been this spring?
SS: It really wasn't bad. Especially internally. At the end of the day, we touched on this with the team, guys are going to make mistakes. I deal with 18-to-22-year-old males and I've got 105 sons on this roster. To think that all 105 aren't going to make mistakes in a four-to-five year span isn't reality. What I do know, and what our team knows, is that Austin is a really good guy. He's done a great deal for our community. He's a good student. He just got over a 3.0 as well. He's been working hard and was having a good offseason. But he made a mistake. Is that mistake truly indicative of Austin's character? No, it's not. We all understand that. We all have to learn from the mistake he made, unfortunately. But we're moving on. We practiced 12 times without Austin. It was actually good for us. It allowed some of the other guys in his position group to develop and improve. And when the time is right for him to re-join us, he'll re-join us and we'll move on.
You guys were really two different teams when you were at home versus on the road last year. I know there is no magic-bullet answer, but what do you need to do to improve the road play?
SS: We have to continually try to expand our comfort zone. We're obviously a very good team when we're in the friendly confines -- whether it's CenturyLink Field or Husky Stadium -- I think what's key for us is no matter where we go, who we play, what time the game is, what the weather is that we go play Husky football. That's something we've talked about since the locker room of the Las Vegas Bowl, quite honestly, and we continue to talk about it every single day. That won't change.
Speaking of Husky Stadium, what are you expecting from the fans, and what's the game day experience going to be like for them?
SS: I would rival the game day experience with any other school in the country. I had a chance to go through it [last week] and I'm still blown away every time I go in there. I think the proximity to the fans and how close they'll be to the field is going to enhance the game day experience for the fans and for our players. From a crowd noise standpoint. From an energy standpoint they'll provide, it will be a great environment. To go along with the setting of Lake Washington and Montlake Boulevard, I don't know what's better out there in college football.
The defense was much better last year. What's the next step for them as a unit?
SS: I think we have to continue to be an opportunistic defense -- one that creates turnovers. We did a great job of that last year. Continue being really sticky in pass defense. You have to be in our conference with so many people throwing the football. And play really good red-zone defense. Those are three areas we drastically improved last season. To continue to build upon that; our ability to defend the up-tempo offense is going to be big for us; and our ability to disrupt quarterbacks -- whether that's sacks or knockdowns, things of that nature -- playing in the offensive backfield more than we had last season are two areas we're very focused on. We focused on that this spring and we'll continue to focus on it in the fall. Defending the up-tempo offense and then wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield.
Whose name are we going to be hearing in 2013 that we didn't hear about in 2012?
SS: I think a name to keep an eye on is a kid who redshirted for us last year and I think can be a playmaker for us in the defensive backfield and in the return game is Cleveland Wallace. He's a guy that possess a really high football IQ. He has a knack for being around the football. He really improved this spring. I think he's a guy to keep an eye on.
That journey begins Tuesday when the Huskies take the field for their first spring practice.
“We’re champing at the bit to get on the field and get going,” Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian believes the pieces are in place for the program to compete for a Pac-12 title. To do that, Washington needs to find success and build confidence this spring.
Here are five storylines to follow as the Huskies set out to reach the lofty expectations that have been set in front of the program:
Steven Bisig/US PresswireThe Huskies are looking forward to seeing Keith Price regain his sophomore-year form in 2013.
Heading into the spring, Price is Washington’s quarterback. Sarkisian made that clear when asked about the senior quarterback.
However, Sarkisian also made it clear that the Huskies’ passing attack needs to take a step forward, and Price needs to regain the confidence he had as a sophomore.
“The goal is to get Keith Price back to playing the way he was two years ago,” Sarkisian said.
With the way Price, and the team, struggled at times last season, both the quarterback and coaching staff tried to manufacture the energy Price produced so naturally as a sophomore.
It didn’t work.
“It’s developed through confidence, through belief to where it exudes out of him and it’s not trying to be created superficially,” Sarkisian said.
Through Price’s offseason training, Sarkisian believes the quarterback will regain his swagger in time for theseason. But the other quarterbacks in the program -- Cyler Miles, Jeff Lindquist, Troy Williams and Derrick Brown -- will get their opportunities.
“We’re not going to be stubborn enough to think, if another guy is playing better that guy won’t get that opportunity to beat him out,” Sarkisian said. “[Price] understands the focus of this spring and what he needs to do for himself so that he can perform to the highest level of his capabilities.”
SEATTLE -- Washington needed a late push to land its 2012 recruiting class into the top 25 nationally.
After securing safety Shaq Thompson (Sacramento, Calif./Grant) right before signing day, the Huskies were able to finish with a class rated No. 23 in the nation.
Led by Thompson, who was rated the nation’s No. 16 prospect in the ESPN 150, the class featured four, four-star recruits and 15 three-star recruits.
With Washington nine games into its season, here is a look at who is playing, who is redshirting and who is grayshirting.
There are questions about the linemen Washington is recruiting. There are questions about the program’s development of linemen. There are questions about the injuries that have plagued the unit and how far the Huskies have to go before the line can be looked at as a position of strength.
If there is one unit Washington fans are desperate to see improvement from, it’s the offensive line. But, as the Huskies prepare to play No. 11 USC at 4 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field, the one thing that has hampered the line more than anything else is injuries.
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No. 1 Price needs to play, not work: During the weekly Pac-12 conference call Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said quarterback Keith Price needs to find the fun in football again.
“Right now he’s working football, and working is not fun, as we all know,” Sarkisian said.
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1. Preparing for potent part of the schedule: The Huskies certainly faced a daunting challenge traveling to LSU in Week 2. But at least Washington was favored in games before and after its matchup with the Tigers. Over the next four weeks, the Huskies face ranked opponents in No. 9 Stanford, No. 3 Oregon, No. 13 USC and No. 22 Arizona.
2. Implementing game plan for Stanford: With its matchup against the Cardinal looming on Sept. 27, Washington doesn’t get the luxury of a true bye week. The Huskies will begin game-week preparations Saturday for a nationally televised contest Thursday night.
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It was over when: Portland State attempted an onside kick to open the game. The trick play failed and provided Washington with good field position. The Huskies needed just four plays to score and never looked back, tallying touchdowns on their first two drives.
Game ball goes to: There are plenty of players to pick from in this one, but quarterback Keith Price takes home the game ball this week after relieving some pressure by completing 14 of 19 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat of the game: Washington matched a school record by scoring 45 points in the first half -- the Huskies also scored 45 points against Oregon State in 1999. Over the first two quarters the Huskies produced four touchdowns on offense -- three passing, one rushing -- one on special teams, one on defense and tacked on a 41-yard field goal from Travis Coons right before the half.
On-field firsts: Sophomore receiver DiAndre Campbell caught his first touchdown pass, while sophomore right tackle Mike Criste and redshirt freshman left guard Dexter Charles made their first starts against Portland State. True freshman offensive lineman Shane Brostek also took the field for the first time, becoming the ninth freshman to play for Washington this season.
What it means: While it is important to keep in mind that the Huskies were playing an FCS team, the good news is Washington has some positive momentum as it heads into the bye week with games against Stanford, Oregon, USC and Arizona looming. The Huskies were able to find a much-needed rhythm on offense, establishing their ground game -- Bishop Sankey rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries -- and building some confidence along an offensive line that is trying to create continuity.
SEATTLE -- Here are five storylines facing Washington as the Huskies prepare to play Portland State Saturday at CenturyLink Field:
1. Huskies addressing offensive issues: Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said his team needs to “rectify some things schematically” to get the Huskies back on track offensively. Since scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter against San Diego State, Washington’s offense has been held without a touchdown the last seven quarters.
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James Johnson missed practice with a dislocated left wrist. Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said the receiver suffered the injury during Wednesday’s practice.
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The 6-foot-4, 294-pound senior center gathered the group two or three times each week for an hour or two. They broke down the playbook. They talked about technique. They discussed scenarios that would give the young players a head start at the beginning of fall camp.
“We went through the whole playbook,” Schaefer said. “That’s why some of those freshmen have a good understanding of the playbook this first week, because all summer we’ve already been working on it.”
The only senior on the Huskies’ offensive line, Schaefer has embraced his role at the line’s leader. But, as important as those sessions were for the young players, Schaefer said the time spent teaching the playbook also helped his understanding of the offense.
“You always learn, especially from teaching it, compared to just sitting there and listening to it from coach [Dan] Cozzetto,” Schaefer said. “It’s a different perspective and you kind of pick up on stuff.”
With junior Erik Kohler working his way back from a knee injury on the first day of camp, Schaefer is the only upperclassmen working with Washington’s starting offensive line.
Redshirt sophomores Micah Hatchie (left tackle), Colin Tanigawa (left guard) -- he is working his way back slowly as he also recovers from a knee injury -- James Atoe (right guard) and Ben Riva (right tackle) make up the rest of the first-string line with redshirt freshman Dexter Charles also seeing time with the first unit.
So far, Schaefer likes what he is seeing out of the group.
“From the point where we ended spring to this first week of camp, I think we’ve made a lot of strides,” Schaefer said. “There is obviously stuff we can still work on, but as far as our communication and in terms of playing together, I think I’m really happy with where we’re at.”
Freshman Shane Brostek, who has a cast on his right hand, has also drawn praise from both Schaefer and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. Schaefer also made a point to praise tackles Hatchie and Riva.
“They’re doing a lot better job with their sets,” Schaefer said. “They’re giving [quarterback] Keith [Price] a lot more time in the pocket.”
Washington's line is young. But Schaefer sees progress.
“Through Week 1 I’m really proud of where we’re at,” he said.
With the way his roster is currently constructed, Sarkisian believes he has a top-25 program primed to take the next step. However, even when a program is heading in the right direction, there are questions. And, when the Huskies take the field for their first practice Monday, Sarkisian and his staff will begin trying to find the answers.
Sarkisian sat down earlier this week to delve into five key questions facing his program as Washington prepares for the 2012 season.
1. With the graduation and injuries causing concern about depth along the offensive line, what are your expectations for that group?
“I love the fact that we have great senior leadership in Drew Schaefer. I’m really excited to get Colin Tanigawa back healthy, cleared for training camp and Erik Kohler, now heading into year three after starting for two years as a true freshman, true sophomore, now healthy, having his best offseason, I think gives us a really solid foundation of three experienced players. Now, what happens with the other two spots and where do they fall?
“Is it going to be James Atoe, who is starting to come into his own at guard? Is it Micah Hatchie at a tackle spot? Is it Ben Riva at a tackle spot? Is it one of our true freshmen coming in now with the potential of a Shane Brostek, a Jake Eldrenkamp, these types of guys, that’s the stuff we have to get answered in training camp.
“You’re going to see some guys moving around in training camp. You’re going to see Schaefer at center, but you’re going to see him some at left tackle. You’ll see Tanigawa at guard, but you’ll see him some at center, because those are our two most important positions. Left tackle and center in our system are vitally important. We just want to make sure that we have our bases covered at those two spots and then let the chips fall where they may and make sure that we get an offensive line in there that plays the brand of football that makes us proud, with great continuity and tough, physical, smart football. We need to get those questions answered, and answered quickly, so that continuity can get formed heading into the season.”
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesSteve Sarkisian believes his team is on the verge of a breakthrough season.
“I think there are great expectations there. They had a tremendous spring and that’s a real credit to Justin Wilcox, our defensive coordinator, and the staff on that side of the ball. There is still a lot of nuance within the defense that we’re working through to get to a point where we feel really good about it, but I would say that we’re probably more talented defensively than we get credit for which, sometimes, isn’t a bad thing.
“I think that our players have really responded to the new coaches and their style of coaching and the scheme that we’ve implemented, but it’s a very aggressive style. It’s one where we’re attacking the quarterback. We do a tremendous job in the back end, which is Justin’s expertise of matching routes, being aggressive on receivers, getting hands on balls much more than we did before and I think we have the pieces in place within the scheme to really defend the run the way that you need to defend it.
“I’m excited to watch our guys continue to grow on the defensive side of the ball, not only within the scheme, but from a maturity standpoint. We had a lot of young players the last two years playing on that side of the ball, starting as true freshmen, that gained valuable experiences on the field. Now bring that together with the new scheme, the new coaches, their maturity level, it should be time for us to really start moving in the right direction on that side of the ball.
“A couple of names that I’m looking forward to really watching this year, John Timu is one of them at linebacker, a guy who started last year for us as a true freshman and has really matured into one of our leaders. Sean Parker is another one who has been playing for two years and is now a third-year guy showing so much maturity. I can’t wait to watch Desmond Trufant go this fall. It’s great to have Hau’oli Jamora back, a guy who was an impact player for us. The continued emergence of Josh Shirley on the other side and then some young guys to watch that were fantastic redshirt players for us last year that I think could have a big impact for us this year. Travis Feeney at safety, Marcus Peters at corner and Jarett Finau on the defensive line, those are three guys I’m looking forward to watch go this training camp.”
No. 3 With Chris Polk moving on to the NFL, who are you leaning on to run the ball?
“We had the luxury of Chris Polk for three years, but there were these other two guys who, every time we seemed to put them in, would make things happen. Obviously, Jesse Callier, what he’s done for two years with us, and then Bishop (Sankey) last year as a true freshman. It seemed like we’d put him in and it was a gain of 8. But it was hard to take No. 1 out of the game to give those guys more carries.
“I know they were both champing at the bit to try to earn that starting spot. It remains to be seen if we’ll be kind of a lead-dog running back team or if we do it by committee. I know that everybody in our organization is excited to watch Deontae Cooper (who has missed back-to-back seasons with knee injuries) get his opportunity to get back in the fold and what he can do there.
“It’s going to be a fun battle to watch these guys compete, not only with one another, but against our defense. There are some cool storylines for people to look to and to watch, but also, for us, some question marks that we need to get answered as we head to that season opener against San Diego State.”
No. 4 Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kasen Williams entered the program with great expectations. What do you expect to see in their sophomore seasons?
“This is a unique time for those guys. They came in with so much expectation as true freshmen and I thought they both had solid years. What I’ve seen out of them is they’ve realized this might have been a little more difficult than what I thought it could be and they’ve had awesome offseasons. They’ve both worked extremely hard. They are two of the more competitive guys I’ve been around and I’m excited to watch these guys go and to really battle, to really be the guys on this offense that can become the go-to guys for us."
No. 5 How have the additions to the coaching staff assimilated to the program?
“They’ve been great. To their credit, they came in very willing to be Washington Huskies and, sometimes, that can be hard to do. When you come into a new job, and you’re recruiting and you’re trying to get the scheme together, it’s been cool to see these guys wearing UW gear every day to work and being proud of where they’re at and the opportunity that we have here.
“I’ve leaned on them for some new ideas, so I think that has helped bridge the gap to get to some things they feel comfortable with from what they’ve done in their past, whether it’s from a functionality standpoint, a scheduling standpoint, even scheme standpoints but, at the end of the day, I think they realize this is a great opportunity, we’ve got a pretty dang good football team and they’re proud to be part of it.”