With spring football practices beginning next week, now seems like a good time to take a look at five storylines to watch during these next 15 practices.
1. About the quarterbacks: There hasn’t been any change in the status of third-year- sophomore-to-be Cyler Miles, who was suspended indefinitely after allegations of assault on the night of Feb. 2. It’s not clear if Miles (or Damore’ea Stringfellow) will return at any point in the spring. And while it’s probably true that Miles is the most logical choice to replace Keith Price as the team’s starter in 2014, I think a fair number of people expected Troy Williams to make a push for the job, anyway. With Miles likely out, Williams and Jeff Lindquist will come to the fore. Lindquist’s only game action came in garbage time last season while Williams redshirted. Both were highly-sought recruits and stars in high school. Might one of them use the spring to gain an upper hand?
2. Replacing the safeties: Both of Washington’s starting safeties last season, Sean Parker and Will Shamburger, were seniors. Who steps up to replace them this season? Surely, incoming freshman Budda Baker will have a pretty good shot at earning one of the starting jobs. But with sophomore-to-be Kevin King likely out this spring after injuring his shoulder last season, and with the departure of Cleveland Wallace, there are fewer options this spring. Brandon Beaver and Trevor Walker should get plenty of looks.
3. What will the offense look like?: Boise State had some prolific offenses during Chris Petersen’s tenure, and the Broncos did it in a variety of ways. Last season’s team wanted to play with a fast tempo and snap the ball quickly, like the Huskies did, though it remains to be seen exactly what the offense will look like under new coordinator Jonathan Smith. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when practices start.
4. Competition at receiver: With (tight end) Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Kevin Smith gone, Stringfellow suspended and Kasen Williams working his way back from the broken leg he suffered against California last season, there will be opportunities for younger receivers (and tight ends) to get some meaningful reps. Jaydon Mickens will look to continue his progression as perhaps UW’s most reliable pass-catcher. John Ross could take a step forward as that speed guy on the edge. Marvin Hall should get plenty of chances.
5. Young pass rushers: Marcus Farria and Jojo Mathis each contributed as freshmen last season, though their playing time was sparse. With Hau’oli Kikaha, Danny Shelton, Josh Shirley, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson all returning, the defensive line figures to be one of the most competitive position groups on the team this season. If Farria and Mathis continue to develop their pass-rushing skills, they could make this the deepest group the Huskies have had in some time.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple