When you take a closer look at the way the team is constructed you realize what a huge project it is rebuilding this team.
Forget about schemes and coaching, let just look at bullets. How many bullets do you see on defense this year? Look a little further, how many for next year?
Willingham's guys are in red, and I have put a star next to any player whose loss, or injury has really hurt the defense's performance in 2007. I am counting five injury stars here including one kid that is out for the season in Wells, and another, Butler who probably should sit out the rest of the year and get healthy.
You can't even blame Rick Neuheisel for this defense because he has only two players left on this part of the squad. The defense has actually gotten worse rather than better as Neuheisel's players have left. You can however put the blame firmly on Gilby's only class, and Willingham's first class which was mostly just picking up the pieces Gilby left behind. Those two classes really put this part of the team in a hole. You can also point a finger at Willingham for picking too many JC's who did not qualify, but hey, he was gambling to fill holes.
If you are hoping for this defense to be better in 2008 it just might be wishful thinking no matter who the DC is. Washington needs an incredible defensive class in 2008 to start turning this around.
When Wells went down this year so did enforcement from this position. The future at Safety is very young and inexperienced. You are talking frosh, and kids that are still in high school. We will have two potential senior starters who would not be able to start at any other Pac Ten school.
I think Nate Williams is going to be a very good one. Put him back there with Wells and you have improvement over 2007. Keep an eye on Aiyewa, the kid may develop into an animal. If Forrester and Harris provide depth that is fine, but if they have to start again we are in trouble.
*Jr Wells (Willingham JC) Three year starter
Jr Forrester (Gilbertson) Has played out of neccesity, not a great talent
Jr Harris (Gilbertson) The kid is gamer but not a great talent
Fr Williams (Willingham) I would start him now, he is the future
Fr Aiyewa (Willingham) Playing on specialties as a true frosh
Fr Richardson (Willingham) RS that could move to LB
You want to pick one position that has plagued us the longest, this would be it. If you want to pick a legit area where the current staff has failed it has been recruiting for this position. Last year they addressed it well, and in 2008 they are addressing it well again. They blew it the first two years by relying on JC's who didn't get in, or didn't pan out. It takes time to develop these guys and we are back at ground zero in 2008.
Roy Lewis is hands down the best DB on the team and he will be missed in 2008. Davenport will man one side, and the best player available will man the other each week. We have depth, but it is young and undeveloped, I would say we won't be improved at CB next season unless we can bring in some better talent.
Sr Lewis (Gilbertson Transfer)
*Jr Davenport (Willingham JC) Good pick up, but injuries have held him back
RS Mosley (Willingham) Doesn't exactly have the tools for this position
Jr Murchison (Willingham JC) Hasn't seen the light of day
Fr McDowell (Willingham) Has started a few games and been eaten up
Fr Persley (Willingham) The coaches think he will be a player
They just aren't getting better from year to year are they? We keep hearing how much Tormey likes young guys, but it hasn't translated into anything. Injury, depth, and coaching have been the biggest problems. They are still young, but we need some better quality behind the starters, and some good health. A coaching change would help too. If Butler can come back to full strength next year, he and Foster are going to give us a very good looking middle. Same can be said if Savannah can go 100%. The problem is there isn't a lot of talent behind them.
I don't want to name names, but we have some dead wood in the depth. The young starters need to stay healthy. If that happens we will see improvement.
Savannah is the teams best linebacker but because of stingers we probably aren't going to be able to find out what type of player he is. Behind is a complete void, when Savannah isn't at 100% the defense suffers. Stevens is best as a situational player.
*So Savannah (Willingham) Injuries have held him back
Jr Stevens (Gilbertson) One dimensional player who isn't a fit as a true starter
Rs Houston (Willingham) One of those fill in guys who hasn't emerged
You have to love Howell's attitude, but injuries this year have taken away a couple of steps of speed. Foster is impressive and will be a three year starter at UW.
*Sr Howell (Gilbertson) Plays well when not injured
Fr Foster (Willingham If he stays healthy he is going to be a star
Sr Trew (Neuheisel) A classic tweener, not enough speed
Fr Dennison (Willingham) Redshirting this year
*So Butler (Willingham) Injuries have killed his year and robbed him of his speed
Jr Tuiasosopo (Gilberston)
Fr Sylvester (Willingham) this kid probably will end up at FB
Gilbertson screwed the pooch of the future when he played Rayford, and Gunheim as freshmen. 95% of lineman need the full five years to develop, and they are at their best in their 4th, and 5th year. We have been hearing for almost a decade that we need a better rush off the edge, and it just hasn't happened.
I think we are actually going to be improved a bit at these spots. We won't miss Gunheim, but we will miss the continuing upside of Rayford.
Sr Gunheim (Gilbertson) He looked the part
Sr Rayford (Gilbertson) Too bad he doesn't have one more year
So Teo Nesheim (Willingham) Great motor
So Jones (Willingham) This kid could be real good if he stays healthy
RS Matthews (Willingham) I thought he would have played more this year
Fr Aldrich (Willingham) He reminds me of Gunheim, but in a good way
We have seen a lot of numbers go through here, but we haven't seen a dominant lineman in some time at UW. Jordan White-Frisbee looked like he was going to be the guy but foot injuries sent him to offensive guard. We graduate three guys this year, and behind them are a group of guys who simply haven't played much. To make matters worse we lost one a couple of weeks ago who decided to transfer. You hate to lose a couple of years investment in a kid. Wood and Duncan came in injured so those guys lost a year of development. So we basically go into 2008 with three kids who haven't played, and a whatever true frosh we can dig up.
You want to pick the single area I am most worried about for 2008 and this is it. It will be Elisara who has limited experience flanked by some kids who have never played a down. If you are a defensive lineman that want to play as a true freshman this is the place. Losing Kosub hurts because that substracts a big body that would have been starting his third year.
Didn't I just say that Gilbertson screwed the pooch by playing Gunheim, and Rayford as true frosh? With Kosub leaving count on one or two true frosh to play in the rotation next year which will stunt their future development. Craig Noble if he comes could end up being a four year starter. O'Connor hasn't cracked the depth in the four years he has been here.
Sr Afoa (Neuheisel)
Sr Reffett (Neuheisel)
Sr Lobos (Gilbertson)
Jr O'Connor (Gilbertson)
Rs Elisara (Willingham)
Fr Wood (Willingham)
Fr Duncan (Willingham)