If you want to pick an area that has been really disappointing since 2002 it has been the defensive line. The numbers and depth have been there, but the production has steadily fallen every single year. That fall off in production resulted in the termination of DC Kent Baer a few weeks ago, and the attrition in the coaching staff may not be over as the new DC may want to bring in his own coaches to work with.
The DL was supposed to be a strength last season. We had seniors Wilson Afoa, and Jordan Reffett in the middle flanked by Teo' Nesheim, and Greyson Gunheim on the outside. I don't know if it was the scheme, or if it was the talent, or a combo of both but these guys wore down as the game went on, and they were as ineffective stopping the run as they were developing a pass rush.
With all the graduations this year it is going to be even more of a challenge.
The positives are that UW should be fine at the ends with Daniel Teo' Nesheim returning. Darrion Jones, De' Shon Matthews, and Kalani Aldrich will battle it out to start at the other side. Johnnie Kirton could also find himself in the mix if he moves over from TE. I am not sure that Kirton would make that big of an impact this late in his career.
The interior is where the biggest question marks lie since the Huskies return almost zero experience at these crucial spots. Cameron Elisara came to UW as a very highly recruited specimen from Spokane, but despite a good work ethic he didn't have a break through last season and played sparingly. Jovan O'Connor is the lone senior and he hasn't played a lick so far in his four seasons at UW.
The youth is where hope lies in this unit. Tyrone Duncan, and Nick Wood who red shirted last season with injuries will get their first good looks this Spring. Duncan had shoulder surgery, and Wood had wrist surgery in the fall. Hopefully these two kids are ready contribute and press for playing time. True Freshmen Senio Kelemente, Craig Noble, and Almaeda Ta'Amu will get an immediate shot at playing time. Everette Thompson is a bigtime recruit at DE who will likely redshirt to put on some muscle. You hate to play frosh lineman, so you have to hope that Duncan, and Wood are making progress.
The rumors of Washington running a 4-3 next season is just that, a rumor. Nothing is going to be set until a defensive coordinator is brought in here later this month. Personel wise UW has recruited to run a 3-4 so my bet is that alignment continues.
The consensus is that Washington will struggle this season on the defensive line unless some miracles happen and the young players are ready for Pac Ten competition. Like the offensive line you can't expect players from HS to come in and fill spots and have any success. Noble just could be the exception to that rule, same with Kelemente on either outside or inside. I have been hearing some rumblings about moving Teo Neshiem inside which makes no sense since he only weighs in at 265. Ta'Amu is a tailor made nose tackle, but can a true frosh handle Pac Ten double teams when he had trouble doing that in Metro?
Pray that Duncan, and Wood are healed, and ready to go this Spring. If those two could emerge and play well during Spring drills I will feel a lot better about the position.