SEATTLE — Welcome to the offseason, where for the next four months everything related to the Washington Huskies will be analyzed, over-analyzed or not analyzed enough.
UW closed out spring camp Saturday with the defense “winning” 37-33 on a 4th-and-goal stand. The event was scored with the offense getting six points for a touchdown and three points for a field goal while the defense was awarded six points for a touchdown, three points for a turnover, three points for a 4th down stop and two points for a sack.
Huskies senior quarterback Jake Browning went 12-for-18 for 106 yards. Redshirt freshman Jake Haener finished 9-for-15 with 139 yards and threw the game’s only touchdown pass. Haener threw an 83-yard score to receiver Max Richmond, who had two catches for 86 yards plus his touchdown.
True freshmen Jacob Sirmon was 3-for-6 with an interception while Colson Yankoff was 1 -for-2. Jacob Eason, a Lake Stevens alum who will be eligible to play for UW in 2019 after transferring from Georgia, was 1-for-2.
Running back Sean McGrew rushed 11 times for a game-high 33 yards and a touchdown. Browning had 30 while Salvon Ahmed had five carries for 31 yards. Tight end Hunter Bryant had five catches for 50 yards.
Cornerback Isaiah Gilchrist led the defense with seven tackles and a 26-yard interception. Outside linebacker Ryan Bowman had five tackles and two sacks. Defensive linemen Jared Pulu and Jason Schrempos each had a sack. So did linebacker Camilo Eifler.
Here are three takeaways from spring camp:
Get familiar with CB Taylor
He can chuckle about it now. But the play that made sophomore cornerback Keith Taylor one of the Huskies’ spring standouts wasn’t supposed to happen.
Jordan Chin, a sophomore receiver, caught a pass only to get plastered by Taylor right as he was trying to get some room in open space.
“That hit. That was by accident. I wasn’t supposed to hit him,” Taylor said with a laugh.
An injury to Marysville Pilchuck alum Austin Joyner led to Taylor receiving more reps with the first team where he looked comfortable while continuing to work with the defense’s top unit.
He was active Saturday, finishing with three tackles including one for a 4-yard loss.
UW signed Taylor in 2017. He was a four-star recruit out of Southern California power Anaheim Servite. The 6-2 and 193-pounder collected eight tackles while seeing time in 12 of the Huskies’ 13 games last season.
Taylor said his goal coming into spring was making more plays on the ball and having it turn into interceptions. Creating turnovers was a constant theme for the Huskies in 2017. UW still finished eighth in total defense but didn’t have the success of forcing mistakes like it did in 2016. The Huskies had 15 interceptions and a total of 24 turnovers in 2017. A year earlier, they led the nation with 33 en route to winning the Pac-12 Championship and reaching the College Football Playoff semifinal.
“Really, you just gotta keep your quickness and that’s really the main thing I feel like,” Taylor said. “That’s the main thing. Also, working on leg drills just to try to keep my quickness and lateral movement.”
Pulu could play a role for UW in 2018
Redshirt junior defensive lineman Jared Pulu provided an interesting outlook on his spring camp.
He saw time with the first and second units. In the scrimmage portion of spring preview, Pulu broke through to sack freshman quarterback Jacob Sirmon.
“Well, I feel like I had a pretty good spring,” Pulu said. “But ultimately that’s up to coach and really, that’s all that matters to me. Just in terms of getting better every day, I feel like I’ve done that.”
Pulu will attempt to carve out a place within a defensive line featuring a number of established figures. The Huskies return seniors Shane Bowman, Greg Gaines and Jaylen Johnson in addition to redshirt sophomore Levi Onwuzurike. In total, UW will have 12 defensive lineman next season and that also includes three members of its 2018 signing class led by four-star defensive tackle Tuli Tuligasenoa.
The 6-4 and 283-pound Pulu was behind former Huskies’ star Vita Vea on the depth chart. Pulu, who played at Federal Way, accounted for six tackles and one tackle for loss in an understudy role.
Pulu said he wants to concentrate on improving little areas that the untrained eye might overlook when it comes to assessing a defensive lineman.
“I think a big thing for me, especially from last year, was putting on some weight,” said Pulu, who has gained 13 pounds in the time he’s been at UW. “Having that mass to be able to take on double teams because you get a lot of those on the D-Line.”
A versatile Roberts waits for his chance
He can play left guard, left tackle, right guard and right tackle too. In a sense, redshirt junior offensive lineman Henry Roberts is almost the ultimate insurance policy.
But the 6-6 and 313-pound Bellevue native doesn’t view it that way.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the ultimate insurance policy. I just think we got a bunch of great guys,” Roberts said. “I think it’s just been good to work my way into a position where I can hopefully have the coaches’ confidence that if something goes wrong, they can plug me in.”
Roberts’ spring camp was one of the more unorthodox. Senior left tackle Trey Adams, a projected first-round pick, is on schedule to recover from a knee injury he suffered last season. Adams, while present at spring camp, did not work out with the team and the Huskies went with Roberts in his place.
The former four-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American was one of the more consistent performers along the line.
Even he laughed at idea of while he’s competing for starting time, he’s aware that arguably the best left tackle in college football will be right there come fall camp.
“I think it’s been a great spring to learn. It’s just been about growing,” Roberts said. “Being able to run with the (first-team) offense has been a great opportunity for me to gain knowledge and play with Nick Harris, the center, and be on the same page with those guys.”