Washington Football hits the field this Saturday, April 19th at 1:00 p.m. for the 2014 spring game. Compared to recent spring games, this one carries immense implications. An entirely different coaching staff, a brand new stadium, a talent laden roster, and unprecedented expectations help create an excitement that should make everyone get out of bed for this one.
For this piece I will look at the ten players I look forward to seeing most in the spring game. For the first installment, I will focus on the offense.
Jeff Lindquist/Troy Williams QB
With two (with a third on the way come fall) elite 11 quarterbacks currently on the roster, anyone following Washington football knows that this is the most intriguing position battle of the spring. While this battle is sure to carry over into the fall, much will be learned about the young quarterbacks during this period.
On the one hand, there’s Jeff Lindquist. At 6-foot-3, 240-pounds Lindquist is as prototypical as they come. He is a well-sized guy but lacks the big arm I would expect and is not one to really flash the speed outside of the pocket. I still haven’t seen anything extremely special out of him but that was last year’s Lindquist. I’m looking forward to seeing what Chris Petersen’s has been able to accomplish in short time with such a physically gifted individual.
On the other hand, there is Troy Williams. Not nearly the physical presence that is Lindquist, Williams stands 6-foot-2, 199-pounds. Williams possesses much more agility and quickness which is sure to make him a threat anywhere on the field. For those who saw him play in the spring game last year, Williams is the type of player that makes you sit on the edge of your seat. If last year’s spring game was any indication of his natural abilities, the guy just has a knack for making plays that defenses have no answer for. If Coach Pete is open to having a guy under center that is more Johnny Manziel and less Blake Bortles, expect some explosive plays this season.
Come fall, I expect to see Williams taking the first snap. Nonetheless, this year’s QB competition serves to be one of the most intriguing battles Washington football has seen in some time.
Dwayne Washington RB
Much like what is being asked of Jeff Lindquist/Troy Williams, whoever takes over at running back will have the task of replacing an all-time great in Washington football history. Dwayne Washington looks to be the heir apparent to Bishop Sankey’s reign
Washington stands at a menacing 6-foot-2, 221-pounds. Washington has shown his ability to run the football effectively. He torched the Beavers for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 11 caries, including a 71 yard sprint that proved this guy has legitimate D-1 speed to go along with his size. Washington’s one downside has been his fumbling problem. Two fumbles in two carries against Illinois early in the season limited his role and prevented him from carving out carries from Sankey last season. Washington has all the ability in the world, but like many positions this spring, replacing a great won’t come without some hefty competition.
Darrell Daniels TE
Replacing husky record setters is not an easy task and Darrell Daniels will definitely have to learn that in the hardest way. The much forgotten member of the duo of 4* wide receivers Steve Sarkisian landed in last year’s recruiting class (the other being Damore’ea Stringfellow), Daniels boasts some impressive physical stats. Listed at 6-foot-4, 241-pounds Daniels definitely has the athletic tools to replace the likes of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Changing positions is never easy and learning to block PAC-12 defensive lineman is a lot to ask, but Daniels looks to be up to the challenge. Daniels seems to embrace the physicality of the position. Reference his bone-chilling block he laid on a would-be tackler on a John Ross punt return against Stanford. If Daniels can adequately transition to the position he could provide another large, freakishly athletic weapon in the middle of the field to help either of the young quarterbacks.
James Atoe OG
Surprisingly, Coach Petersen is inheriting an offensive line group that is the most experienced position group on the team. The O-line returns three honorable mentions, six players who saw significant action in at least ten games last season, and a slew of other reserves with quality experience under their belt.
When James Atoe first came to campus in 2010, he was already a massive 6-foot-7, 325-pounds. While he remained fairly the same weight throughout his time here, Atoe checked into spring ball at 375 pounds. That is size that even Nick Saban would be envious of. If Atoe is able to keep at least a little bit of speed an agility after such a massive weight gain, he could find himself plowing his way to another husky football rushing record type season. The real question will be if his feet are quick enough for passing situations? If not, he may find a hard time edging out Colin Tanigawa for that right guard spot. But with size like his it will be hard for Coach Petersen to keep him off the field.
Shaq Thompson RB
A truly special athlete only comes around every so often. When they do, Coaches have to find a way to get the most out of such a player. Coach Petersen is well aware of this. After being teased by Steve Sarkisian the last couple of years about the possibility of Thompson playing both sides of the ball, husky football fans will finally get a chance to see it this spring. While the QB competition may be the most intriguing battle of the spring, Thompson is the most intriguing individual to watch. At first glance this may appear to be some experiment Coach Petersen decided to try after seeing the success of Miles Jack at UCLA. A new gimmick by a guy known for his trickery at Boise State. Come fall, when the 6-foot-2, 231-pound freak of an athlete is sprinting past secondaries, teams will realize this is no gimmick.
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