Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies fall camp preview: Defense

Washington defensive back Budda Baker intercepts a pass intended for Oklahoma State wide receiver Blake Webb during the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz.
Washington defensive back Budda Baker intercepts a pass intended for Oklahoma State wide receiver Blake Webb during the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. AP

Entering their second season with Chris Petersen as the coach, the Huskies begin fall camp Saturday at Husky Stadium, 27 days before the Sept. 4 season opener at Boise State. Here, a primer on the UW defense:

* Denotes walk-on

DEFENSIVE LINE

End

Taniela Tupou, sr., 6-2, 288

Jarett Finau, sr., 6-3, 274

Shane Bowman, rs-fr., 6-3, 273

Jason Scrempos, fr., 6-6 280

Bryce Sterk, fr., 6-4, 234

Tackle

Elijah Qualls, so., 6-1, 311

Greg Gaines, rs-fr., 6-1, 310

Vita Vea, rs-fr., 6-5, 340

Ricky McCoy, fr., 6-2, 307

End

Will Dissly, so., 6-4, 277

Jaylen Johnson, rs-fr., 6-2, 260

Benning Potoa'e, fr., 6-3, 270

Damion Turpin, jr., 6-4, 276

John Clark, fr., 6-3, 260*

Outlook: There are a lot of new faces and a lot of unknowns up front as the Huskies introduce an entirely new D-line. Versatility is key here, with guys like Dissly, Tupou, Bowman and Johnson capable of shifting around the line (and even into coverage at times), depending on the defensive alignment. That's becoming more important as defensive coordinators try to get creative against spread offenses. Dissly was dominant for much of the spring, and Qualls looks like he'll take over for Danny Shelton as the main man in the middle. We'll probably see more guys rotating more often this season. Potoa'e, listed at 270 on the updated roster, is the one true freshman who seems most likely to play on the D-line; McCoy could push for time as well.

LINEBACKERS

BUCK

Joe Mathis, jr., 6-2, 252

Psalm Wooching, jr., 6-4, 236

Kyler Manu, fr., 6-1, 225

SAM

Travis Feeney, sr., 6-4, 226

Cory Littleton, sr., 6-3, 227

Tevis Bartlett, fr., 6-2, 218

Ben Burr-Kirven, fr., 6-0, 201

Gerran Brown, fr., 6-1, 214

MIKE

Azeem Victor, so., 6-3, 240

Jake Wambaugh, rs-fr., 6-1, 220

Connor O'Brien, so., 6-2, 238

Jusstis Warren, fr., 6-2, 239

WILL

Scott Lawyer, sr., 6-2, 232

Keishawn Bierria, so., 6-2, 220

Sean Constantine, so., 6-2, 225

Matt Preston, rs-fr., 6-2, 213--

DJ Beavers, fr., 6-0, 211

Outlook: Lots of questions here with a thin, inexperienced group looking to replace Hau'oli Kikaha, John Timu and Shaq Thompson. That's no small task. Getting Feeney back from shoulder surgery will help; he's the only returning starter on the front seven. I'm curious to see where Littleton ends up; he was a starting D-end two years ago. I wonder if he might be an option at Buck. Mathis experimented at Buck in the spring and it'll be interesting to see if he sticks there. Bierria's expected back after missing spring with an undisclosed injury; he filled in capably on the weak side when Shaq shifted to running back last year. Lawyer adds a steady presence there, too. Note: The freshman position projections are my best estimates. We'll see where they line up this weekend.

SECONDARY

Cornerback

Sidney Jones, so., 6-0, 178

Austin Joyner, fr., 5-10, 186

Brandon Lewis, rs-fr., 5-10, 186

Sean Vergara, rs-fr., 6-2, 178

Hayden Schuh, jr., 6-0, 207

Free safety

Budda Baker, so., 5-10, 178

Brandon Beaver, jr., 6-0, 196

Strong safety/rover

Brian Clay, sr., 6-1, 207

Jojo McIntosh, rs.-fr., 6-0, 196

Ezekiel Turner, so., 6-2, 206

Trevor Walker, jr., 5-11, 188

Cornerback

Darren Gardenhire, so., 5-11, 185

Kevin King, jr., 6-3, 183

Naijiel Hale, so., 5-10, 182

Jordan Miller, fr., 6-0, 163

Ian Biddle, rs-fr., 6-0, 181--

Dustin Bush, fr., 5-9, 171--

Outlook: How quickly things change, eh? A year ago, the secondary was UW's biggest question mark, with three openings and virtually no proven options to fill those holes. Entering this fall, the secondary looks like the strength of the defense, if not the entire team. Baker and Jones are secure in their starting roles. They are emerging stars in the Pac-12 -- and we should even see Baker on offense and special teams this season. The other two spots should provide quality competition in camp. I could see any of the strong safeties/rovers starting: Walker started the first eight games last season before tearing his ACL; Clay might be the most fundamentally sound of the bunch; and McIntosh and Turner both turned heads (and torsos) in the spring as the team's two newest enforcers. Similarly, Gardenhire, King and Hale are all viable candidates to win the other corner job. Gardenhire was one of the breakout performers in the spring. King, who sat out spring ball, is intriguing; he's more of a natural free safety who played out of position most of last year at rover but will get a shot to play corner this fall. Probably more than any of the freshmen, I'm curious to see Joyner in camp. The hunch here is he'll play a role on this team this season.

SPECIALISTS

Kicker

Cameron Van Winkle, jr., 5-10, 184

Tristan Vizcaino, so., 6-2, 205

Punter

Korey Durkee, sr., 6-4, 247

Vizcaino

Long snapper

Ryan Masel, sr., 6-1, 220

Luke Hutchison, so., 6-2, 225

Outlook: Not much concern here. Van Winkle was excellent in his first season as the primary place-kicker, converting 20 of 24 field-goal attempts. Durkee, we know, has a booming leg, and he seemed to get the hang (see what I did there?) of Petersen's preferred rugby-style punting as the season rolled on.

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