Washington won a national championship in Crew, and finished third in the race for the national championship in Softball losing to conference rival Arizona in two straight games. The softball program has been here before, and while they have knocked on the door it seems there is always someone a little better who keeps them from the championship trophy. Heather Tarr did an excellent job this season and has the program back to the level it was before Teresa Wilson was let go.
On the Cooper River in New Jersey the Husky Crew showed everyone that they are back on top, and that the program is in great shape winning the overall title in addition to the Varsity Eights. Look for the Huskies to announce soon that they will be headed to Henley.
With Spring Sports for the most part completed we enter the slow period of the Summer for the football, and other athletic programs at UW. Over the next eight weeks we will be reviewing where our upcoming football opponents stand headed into the season.
This week we kick off our reviews with the opener at Syracuse. The Orangemen are currently down, and Washington should enter the game a prohibitive favorite. If you take a good look at the schedule this may be the least skilled opponent Washington will face this year. The Orange have problems on both sides of the ball, but like Washington last year have bottomed out and are starting the long return to the upper division of their conference.
First of all Syracuse's hopes of escaping the Big East cellar were dealt a serious blow with the season-ending injury to RB Delone Carter, who led the Orange in rushing with 713 yards as a freshman. Carter dislocated his hip during a 7-on-7 passing drill during spring practice. In 2006, Carter split time with Curtis Brinkley, who had knee surgery during the spring but is expected to be healthy in the fall.
What can you learn from a spring scrimmage that features a punter lining up as a wide receiver and two stoppages of play for video review? Apparently, quite a bit from reports.
Despite Syracuse's defense pushing forward for an unsurprising 25-24 victory in the spring game, Orange sophomore quarterback Andrew Robinson stepped to the fore, likely earning himself the starting role in 2007. The sophomore from Baltimore was impressive during the team's annual spring football game. The defense won the contest 25-24, but it was Robinson who carried the day as the game's most arresting performer.
Robinson completed 12-of-19 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown. He threw one interception, though it was a pass receiver Taj Smith caught, then fumbled into the arms of defensive lineman Anthony Perkins. Robinson directed two touchdown drives and one field goal drive. All three came against the first-team defense.
Robinson's display must surely buoy the expectations of even the most pessimistic of Orange fans. Without starting running backs Delone Carter (dislocated hip) and Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley (knee), Robinson managed to carry the load most of the afternoon. His poise in the pocket and ability to complete a myriad of throws proved that he can, under the right circumstances, compete in head coach Greg Robinson's West Coast Offense. The pieces are there among the skill players for a night-and-day improvement from last year’s putrid attack that cranked out a mere 264 yards and 17.4 points per game, but the injuries are a disappointment that will be hard to overcome coming out of the gate.
On defense it might take a little while for the team to gel next season, but the defense should improve as the season goes on. In 2006 it struggled in every area but getting into the backfield, and with a strong defensive line returning, led be end Jameel McClain, generating pressure won’t be much of a problem. The linebacking corps will be work in progress with three new starters, but the they will be blessed with two excellent safeties who will have to clean up the mess in Dowayne Davis, and Joe Fields. The inside-outside combination of Jenkins and McClain will be the teams strength on defense. For all the dire news about the defense, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Jenkins and McClain were the disruptive catalysts for a group that finished 19th nationally at almost three sacks a game.
Consensus Opinion on Syracuse
Syracuse goes into 2007 being labeled as the worst team in the Big East, and is a good candidate to make most people's national bottom ten lists initially. The Orange are rebuilding, and while it won't be quite as bad as 2006, this is definitely a team Washington should beat up on road to start the season. One key for Washington is keeping the Orange out of their offensive backfield. The other is exploiting what should be a porous Orange defense. Washington needs to start quickly, control the ball, and bottle up the Syracuse offense, and watch them self destruct. Jake Locker needs to be wary of the pressure the Syracuse defense can bring and turn it to Washington's advantage by using his speed to make plays. The Huskies as in most cases this season need to establish a strong running game early and control the temp putting away the underdog early.