With nine starters returning to the Washington Huskies’ defense that ranked No. 5 in total defense last year, this unit should be one of the most feared in the nation.
The Huskies have had the Pac-12’s top overall defense (yards allowed) and top scoring defense (points allowed). The good news for 2018 is the Huskies are set to return nine defensive starters from the Fiesta Bowl, including all five starters from what will be another stacked secondary.
While nine starters return, the Huskies still have a pair of big losses that they need to reinforce. Vita Vea, a defensive lineman who graduated, and Keishawn Bierria, a linebacker who graduated, will be vital holes for Washington to plug.
The Huskies employ a base 3-4 defense. So let’s check out what the Washington defensive depth chart could look like in 2018:
Starters: Levi Onwuzurike (DE), Greg Gaines (NT), Jaylen Johnson (DE)
Reserves: Benning Potoa’e, Jason Scrempos, Jared Pulu
Notes: While Vea’s loss is a big one for the Huskies, they return plenty of experience to calm the waters. A healthy Greg Gaines, who played much of last season injured, will be an injection of energy in and of itself. Lookout for the emergence of Levi Onwuzurike, who tallied 3.5 tackles for a loss as a reserve last year.
Starters: Ryan Bowman (OLB), Ben Burr-Kirven (ILB), DJ Beavers (ILB), Tevis Bartlett (OLB)
Reserves: Myles Rice, Brandon Wellington, Matt Preston, Jusstis Warren
Notes: Like the defensive line, the linebacking corps for the Huskies has to deal with a big loss in Keishawn Bierria. However, Washington does return its leading tackler from a year ago in Burr-Kirven. Bartlett, meanwhile, led the Huskies with 12 tackles for a loss. Losing the leadership and consistency of Bierria isn’t going to be easy to replace, but this group has the necessary playmakers to wreak havoc.
Starters: Austin Joyner, Byron Murphy
Reserves: Keith Taylor, Jordan Miller, Myles Bryant
Notes: The secondary is arguably the scariest part of Washington’s defense. The Huskies tallied 15 interceptions last year, including three from returning defensive back Byron Murphy. With the Pac-12 frequently loaded with quarterbacks who have sights on the NFL, Washington’s ability to keep teams in check in the air will be critical.
Starters: Taylor Rapp, JoJo McIntosh
Reserves: Isaiah Gilchrist, Brandon McKinney
Backing up a loaded group of cornerbacks will be Rapp and McIntosh, who combined for 109 tackles and two interceptions last year. The duo will be entering their third season as the starting safeties, so the chemistry between the two will likely be unparalleled nationally.
The post Predicting the Washington defensive depth chart for 2018 appeared first on Diehards.