The first game of the football season is just around the corner, and to celebrate, we're diving into the record books. Count down the final 10 days before the Washington football team takes on Boise State on Aug. 31 as we get ready for the season with the help of some key statistics.
The injury bug bit the UW’s offensive line hard last year, taking down would-be starters Colin Porter before the season started and then Colin Tanigawa, Erik Kohler, and Ben Riva all within the first two weeks. Due to the constant shuffling of the offensive line, pass protection was spotty at best as the Huskies allowed 38 total sacks for 237 yards.
This season, the offensive line is healthy and reaching for redemption. The Huskies only lost one starter on the offensive line from last season and have Tanigawa and Riva back at full strength. Riva switched from right tackle to left tackle this fall and had head coach Steve Sarkisian singing praises, saying the junior from Seattle has the makings of an elite NFL-type of left tackle. However, late in camp, he switched back to the right side and Micah Hatchie was listed as the starting left tackle on the UW's depth chart. Now on the No. 1 offensive line next to Hatchie projects to be Dexter Charles, followed by junior Mike Criste at center, Tanigawa at right guard, and Riva at right tackle. Tanigawa is still coming back from an ACL tear last season, so junior James Atoe has also seen reps with the first string offense at right guard.
Almost all of those linemen are redshirt juniors (Charles is a redshirt sophomore), so they've traversed the trials of college life and college football together and built up a “brotherhood,” Criste said, which is the most important thing for a successful offensive line.
“I you don’t have that brotherhood aspect, it’s not going to work because you can’t trust the guys next to you,” Criste said. “I trust all those guys with my life. I’d go into a fight with them anyday if I had to.”
(For his fighting partner, Criste couldn’t decide between Tanigawa, whose nickname “Panda” belies his “vicious” nature, according to Criste, or the “huge” Atoe, who checks in a 6-foot-6, 335 pounds.)
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