Junior Micah Hatchie’s consistency at the left edge of the offensive line has helped the Huskies stabilze the front and protect quarterback Keith Price this season.
Junior Micah Hatchie’s consistency at the left edge of the offensive line has helped the Huskies stabilze the front and protect quarterback Keith Price this season.Photo by Joshua Bessex
Left tackle is not a glamorous position.
Rather, the left tackle’s job is to protect the players who get the attention. He has to make sure the quarterback stays on his feet and the running back has lanes to rush through. While the players in the backfield are getting all the attention for their big plays, the left tackle is quietly and anonymously going about his business in the trenches, making sure that those players have room to make those plays.
Left tackle is one of the highest-paid positions for NFL players, but most fans could not recognize their team’s left tackle if they walked past him on the street.
But Micah Hatchie does not need the attention. That can all be saved for others.
“As long as we’re doing our job, which we should be doing every week, that’s all I care about,” Hatchie said. “Getting the job done, protecting the quarterback, and getting us those Ws.”
When a left tackle does get attention, it’s usually not for the best reasons. Few will notice when the left tackle makes a good block to spring a running back or when he picks up a blitz and gives the quarterback time to throw the ball. But everyone notices when the left tackle gets beaten and the quarterback goes down.
“You have to have trust in your left tackle,” quarterback Keith Price said. “It’s probably one of the most stressful positions, because if he gets beat, everybody is going to know who the sack came from.”
Trust is the key. Price has a confidence in Hatchie that has come from working together over the past two years. And their relationship all comes down to Price knowing that when he drops back, Hatchie is going to get the job done.
Hatchie, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior from Haleiwa, Hawaii, has developed into a consistent cog on the outside
of the offensive line over the past two seasons. Last season, he was one of two linemen (along with center Drew Schaefer) to start every game for the UW, starting all 13 games on the left side of the line. He has continued that steadiness this year, starting in each of the UW’s first seven games.
With 20 starts under his belt, each one of them with Price taking the snaps, Hatchie has developed a good working relationship with Price. He said the trust is a two-way street, and he and Price have developed a level of faith in each other’s abilities.
“He has to have trust in me that I’ll do my job, and I have to trust in him that he’ll do his job,” Hatchie said. “Pretty much the biggest one is on me, because he has to get rid of the ball.”
That relationship may have taken a bit of a hit in 2012. With players shuffling in and out of the line on a week-by-week basis due to injuries, Price was sacked 38 times and was under pressure almost constantly. His numbers and body, along with the UW’s win total, suffered. With so much inconsistency, Hatchie said communication among the linemen broke down.
“Throughout all the camps, we were getting all the communication down, talking, knowing the fronts, knowing the blitzes, and everything,” Hatchie said. “But then, once the season started and, one by one, our line started falling apart, we had to transition to the new guys coming in. At that time, we weren’t acclimated to the communication with the other guys that came in, so we had to build that up again.”
With injuries decimating the UW’s offensive line last season, the bond between Price and the line crumbled. Earlier this season, the quarterback said he had difficulty trusting his blockers last year. That’s not the case anymore.
After so much juggling of the line last season, head coach Steve Sarkisian has jogged out almost the same line in every game this season, with the exception of the game against Arizona State, when Dexter Charles sat out, becoming the first of the five offensive linemen to miss a start.
Having consistency up front allows the line to get comfortable with each other, which is especially important in the UW’s new, up-tempo offense. Equally important when moving at high speeds is being able to communicate calls from one end of the line to the other quickly and without huddling up. That is where Hatchie has to be on his game.
“I always have to be talking to all the other guys,” Hatchie said. “Especially getting the communication from the left side all the way to the right. Talking with the guard on combination blocks, listening to where they’re making their mike play, if there’s any pressure coming off my side. From my side, I have to let the whole line know what’s going on.”
As the communication has improved, so has the offense. Through seven games, the Huskies have ran for more than 200 yards per game, and running back Bishop Sankey is among the nation’s rushing leaders. More importantly, Price has been kept upright for the most part, though he was under consistent pressure the last three weeks in the losses to Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State.
For the Huskies to get back on the right track, Price will have to be standing on his feet. He’ll make the jaw-dropping throws that bring the crowd to its feet, while Hatchie makes the blocks that make it all happen.
Reach reporter Daniel Rubens at email@example.com. Twitter: @drubens12
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