As many as nine UW true freshmen could play Saturday against BYU
As many as nine true freshmen are likely to see action when the Huskies face Brigham Young University in the humidity and altitude of Provo, Utah, on Saturday afternoon.
The official two-deep depth chart that was released Monday includes 12 true freshmen, but quarterback Nick Montana and offensive linemen Erik Kohler and Colin Porter appear likely to play only in the event of an injury -- or two.
That leaves several true freshmen in line to see action, mostly on special teams.
Wide receiver Kevin Smith is listed as co-kickoff return man alongside sophomore Chris Polk, and he's also the top backup behind starting slot receiver Devin Aguilar.
Linebackers Princeton Fuimaono, Garret Gilliland and Cooper Pelluer could also see time on special teams coverage units.
Strong safety Sean Parker could see a few snaps in the event that senior Nate Williams needs a breather, while cornerback Gregory Ducre might see some action on defense as well -- he and sophomore Adam Long are listed as co-backups to Quinton Richardson.
Tight end Michael Hartvigson from Bothell High School has shown enough at camp to earn a spot on this week's flight to Utah, and he's likely to see some snaps in two-tight end sets.
And the freshmen most likely to see action are defensive end Hau'oli Jamora, who is listed as sophomore Talia Crichton's top backup, and tailback Jesse Callier.
Conspicuously missing from the two-deeps were a pair of the Huskies' most high-profile recruits. Defensive tackle Sione Potoa'e and defensive end Josh Shirley were not on the depth chart and could be candidates to redshirt this season.
When head coach Steve Sarkisian was asked whether those two freshmen could factor into the rotation, he said: "You never know when you're going to need somebody on the road. First game, injuries happen. Potentially, yes."
Montana is also a prime candidate to redshirt, although he's currently listed as co-No. 2 quarterback alongside redshirt freshman Keith Price. The coaching staff is not publicly declaring a backup quarterback, but Price appeared to outperform Montana in both the spring and fall camps.
As for the freshmen who will play on Saturday, Sarkisian said need and readiness will factor into their immediate playing time.
"We're going to be strategic with it," he said. "We're not just going to throw them out there for a snap. If a guy plays, there's going to be some significance there -- whether it's on special teams or on offense or defense."
Christine, Fellner get nods
The official depth chart had a few minor surprises, the biggest one of them at right guard.
Senior Gregory Christine, a former walk-on who missed the end of last season with a broken leg, secured the starting job at right guard in the final days of fall camp. He vaulted over sophomore Mykenna Ikehara, who was pegged as the likely starter from the beginning of spring.
"The recovery he's made has been tremendous," Sarkisian said of Christine. "He's a really neat personality on our team; he provides a great deal of energy, leadership. I'm proud of him. He's worked his way back, he's earned it."
Sarkisian added that experience was a key factor in sophomore Nate Fellner getting the nod over redshirt freshman Will Shamburger at free safety, but both players will see extensive action in the BYU game.
At defensive end, junior Everette Thompson appears to have recovered from leg problems and earned the nod over senior De'Shon Matthews.
Huppert out Saturday
Sarkisian said senior linebacker Brandon Huppert is the only player ruled out for Saturday's game. Huppert, who played at Edmonds-Woodway High School and spent most of the fall camp as the No. 2 middle linebacker, continues to battle knee problems.
Sarkisian added that defensive end Kalani Aldrich, who is also trying to come back from knee surgery, is doubtful for the game but has a chance of playing.
Sophomore wide receiver James Johnson (ankle) appears to be questionable and will continue to be monitored throughout the week. Because of the injury, Johnson is currently listed as the No. 3 flanker, behind Jermaine Kearse and junior Cody Bruns.
Sarkisian continues to look at this weekend's return to his alma mater as a "business trip," but he can't help but to be reminded of the two years he spent at BYU.
BYU's offense is "very, very similar," Sarkisian said Monday. "The passing concepts are very similar. … A very similar-looking team. The uniforms look the same. Kind of an eerie feeling."
Sarkisian said that starting tailback Chris Polk's offseason shoulder surgery is unlikely to limit him this season, adding that he won't monitor the sophomore's playing time Saturday. "He's ready to go," Sarkisian said Monday. "We've had a physical camp. He's great. He's ready to go." … With Huppert sidelined and safety Justin Glenn still recovering from ankle surgery, the only Snohomish County product on UW's two-deeps is backup right tackle Daniel Kanczugowski, an Edmonds native who attended Seattle's O'Dea High School. … Among the people attending Monday's afternoon practice was former Huskies coach Jim Lambright.
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