Husky Football Preview – Offensive Line
2014 Husky Football is well underway as we wrap up the second week of fall camp. One of the areas of strength thus far has been the big boys up front on both sides of the ball. Today we will take a closer look at the Offensive Line. (*Notice: Every season there is a lot of movement among the offensive line; expect players to get playing time at multiple positions. Players are listed below at the position in which they have the most experience.*)
Erik Kohler: Kohler announced he was taking a medical retirement earlier this year. He has endured multiple knee and shoulder injuries that have finally caught up with him. Kohler was a solid lineman who would have provided another experienced player in the trenches.
Taylor Hindy: Hindy has decided to transfer from the University of Washington. He leaves UW as a redshirt sophomore who never saw significant playing time.
Micah Hatchie: (6-5 306 lbs; Senior) Hatchie has been a linchpin on the left side of the line for the past three seasons. He will be tasked with protecting the blindside of a young and inexperienced quarterback in 2014. Hatchie is an extremely athletic lineman who can pull and reach the second level of the defense with ease. Hatchie was held out of Spring camp with an injury, but he appears to be healthy and ready to go for the 2014 season.
Jake Eldrenkamp: (6-5 292 lbs; Sophomore) Eldrenkamp did not see any significant playing time last season. However, he received important reps this spring as he ran with the starting unit while Hatchie was sidelined by an injury. He will have a good shot at being our LT in 2015.
Coleman Shelton: (6-4 281 lbs; Redshirt Freshman) Shelton redshirted last season and therefore has yet to see the playing field on Saturdays. After a year of adjusting to life as a student-athlete at the college level, he seems poised to make a run at being Hatchie’s backup and potential replacement in 2015.
Matt James: (6-4 258 lbs; Freshman) James is an intriguing prospect; he is a strong and athletic lineman (4.9 40 yard dash). James will likely redshirt this season while focusing on getting stronger and putting on weight.
Dexter Charles: (6-5 311 lbs; Junior) Charles has been a productive lineman for the Huskies. He is especially effective in the run game where he can rely on his brute strength to bully opposing players out of his way. Husky Nation is hoping that he can stay healthy all season as he has battled nagging injuries in the past.
Siosifa Tufunga: (6-3 321 lbs; Junior) Tufunga does not have a lot of game day experience, but he has been getting significant practice reps with Charles battling nagging injuries. Tufunga is a solid backup who provides depth along the line.
Michael Kneip: (6-5 301 lbs; Sophomore) Kneip has no significant playing time under his belt, but he provides yet another big body with a promising future.
Cory Fuavai: (6-3 318 lbs; Sophomore) Fuavai is an athletic lineman who will excel in run blocking. He has yet to gain any game day experience, and don’t expect anything different this year with so much depth across the o-line.
Mike Criste: (6-6 316 lbs; Senior) Criste emerged as the starting center early last season and never looked back. Criste has consistently shown a high football IQ which is essential for the center position. The popular opinion is that Criste will be the starting center in 2014; however, he has been running with the second string the first two weeks of fall camp, leaving Colin Tanigawa taking reps at center with the starting unit.
Dane Crane: (6-3 301 lbs; Redshirt Freshman) Crane redshirted last year and therefore has no game day experience. He was a highly-touted recruit that has a knack for the center position. Expect Crane to be the center of the future for the Washington Huskies.
James Atoe: (6-7 381 lbs; Senior) Atoe is a mammoth of a human being and is one of the largest players in the country. Atoe has significant experience at Right Guard and is a tremendous run blocker. He gets caught out of position from time to time; he needs to improve his consistency as a pass blocker.
Colin Tanigawa: (6-3 292 lbs; Senior) Tanigawa, aka “Panda”, is the jack of all trades among the offensive lineman. Tanigawa has seen significant playing time in three different positions: Left Guard, Center, and Right Guard. He provides great depth along the offensive line with his versatility. He is currently taking reps at center with the starting unit in fall camp.
Shane Brostek: (6-4 283 lbs; Junior) Brostek has been a journeyman in his first two season as a Dawg. He was recruited as an interior offensive lineman only to be switched to the defensive side of the ball his freshman season. Entering his sophomore season he returned to the offensive line. In spite of changing positions twice, he has a good amount of experience at both guard positions along the offensive line.
Ben Riva: (6-7 313 lbs; Senior) Much like Hatchie, Riva has been a staple on the right side of the line in recent years. He is an experienced player and a veteran voice among the offensive lineman. Riva has emerged as a team leader and represented the Huskies at the Pac-12 media days in Los Angeles last month.
Ross Dolbec: (6-5 313 lbs; Junior) Dolbec appeared in nearly every game last season and gained some game day experience. Expect a similar amount of playing time from Dolbec this year as Riva has a strangle-hold on the RT spot.
Andrew Kirkland: (6-4 315 lbs; Redshirt Freshman) Kirkland redshirted last season and has yet to see any significant playing time. With such a deep pool of talent and experience along the offensive line this year, it is difficult to imagine Kirkland seeing the field.
John Turner: (6-3 273 lbs; Freshman) Turner will likely redshirt this season due to the depth at both tackle positions. He will spend this season adjusting to college life and working out in the weight room.
Jesse Sosebee: (6-5 317 lbs; Freshman) Like Turner, Sosebee will likely redshirt this season. He will focus on acclimating to life as a student-athlete while working on his strength and conditioning.
The offensive line boasts an abundance of experience and talent making it an area of strength for the 2014 Huskies. Husky Nation should be ecstatic to have such a group of lineman back, especially with a young quarterback. Having great protection upfront is important to the success of any football team, but it is amplified with an inexperienced QB. The only twist along the offensive line this off season has been Colin Tanigawa. He has been running with the starting unit at center; however, look for Criste to regain his position at some point next week and hold onto throughout the season. Expect the starting five from the 2013 season to retain their jobs this year. Our starting unit in Hawaii should be:
LT – Micah Hatchie
LG – Dexter Charles
C – Mike Criste
RG – James Atoe
RT – Ben Riva