Washington’s defense was greatly improved in 2010, culminating in a dominating display against a one-dimensional Nebraska team in the Holiday Bowl. The key question in 2011 for Washington is whether or not the Dawgs can slow teams down that have a proven quarterback.
The Dawgs defensive line played a major role in the Huskies four game winning streak that ended the 2010 season. Alameda Ta’amu and Hau’oli Jamora made big plays during the streak and will be leaned on to win the battle in the trenches and get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Talia Crichton and Everrette Thompson will both start at defensive end, while true freshman Danny Shelton and sophomore DT Sione Potoa’e will also have a chance to make big plays, with Josh Shirley also rotating in.
The Huskies have had a pretty good string of linebackers recently, producing back-to-back third round NFL Draft picks in Donald Butler and Mason Foster. Senior middle linebacker Cort Dennison might be next in line to make a leap to the NFL, as he has the experience and skills. Sophomore Princeton Fuimaono and freshman John Timu have appeared to secure the other two starting spots, although Thomas Tutogi, Garret Gilliland, Jamaal Kearse and Cooper Pelluer all could see playing time.
The cornerback position might be the safest bet for consistent play at any position. Junior Desmond Trufant has played well all camp, and senior Quinton Richardson was playing well until an ankle injury has slowed him recently. If Richardson can’t go against Eastern Washington on Saturday, junior Anthony Gobern and sophomore Greg Ducre will be in line to lineup opposite Trufant.
The graduation of Nate Williams leaves the Dawgs with a hole at safety. Sophomore Sean Parker, slowed by a neck injury last year, has a firm hold on the strong safety position. Nate Fellner and Justin Glenn are battling for the free safety spot, while four-star recruit James Sample is also in the mix for playing time.