Huskies Insider Blog

Who needs to pick up game? A few key contributors

It is Saturday morning, and no UW game on the slate. Must be nice for the players to wake up, relax and get to WATCH college football on their bye.

On Friday, I detailed my MVP's so far through five games - quarterback Keith Price on offense, cornerback Desmond Trufant on defense and a few candidates on special teams.

So what about the players who need to pick up the pace heading into the next part of the schedule, starting Oct. 15 against Colorado?

* OFFENSE: Jesse Callier, running back - Sure, he has broken a few long kickoff returns, which has been encouraging. But, say Chris Polk somehow comes up lame in the next couple games (knock on wood) - is Callier trustworthy to carry the load in his stead?

I have contended for much of Callier's tenure at the UW, as much as he is a nice change-of-pace tailback, he is not a grinder, between-the-tackles running back. But in some cases, he has to be - and it would be beneficial for him to show that on a more consistent basis in relief of Polk.

Or will he just be tagged as the fly-sweep runner, the man breaking for the outside? The 4.4-yard-per-carry average is fine (91 yards on 20 carries, no TDs), but more production is going to be needed heading into the meaty part of the Pacific-12 Conference schedule.

* DEFENSE: Whoever starts next to Alameda Ta'amu at defensive tackle - Yes, a strong case for the UW pass defense, especially struggling cornerback Quinton Richardson, could be made here. I sort of give Richardson a pass because of the fall-camp ankle injury, and his track record the past month of 2010.

This nod is not so much a knock on the lack of production - the ever-valuable Everrette Thompson has held up, for the most part, wherever defensive coordinator Nick Holt has asked, including at tackle - but more of a recognition that the Huskies not only desperately need to get healthy at that spot, they need to stay healthy.

The Semisi Tokolahi sighting the past two games - and especially the 30 snaps against Utah - is very encouraging. He had quite a run up until his ankle injury in last year'sApple Cup, and he seems to not only fit well next to the beastly Ta/amu, they play well off each other.

True freshman Danny Shelton (foot) needs to get on the field. Yes, he is a newcomer, but his non-impact, even in short spurts, has been alarming. Lawrence Lagafuaina is a big body. Coaches rave about his physical presence. He does have one of the team's eight paltry sacks. More, Lawrence, more!

* SPECIAL TEAMS: The punting tandem - I won't harp on this aspect, because honestly this has not really been a point of weakness (Rasp has averaged 42.9 yards per punt, and two of Mahan's three punts have pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line.)

But suddenly, as soon as Kiel Rasp booted that rugby punt in the back of a teammate at the end of the Hawaii game, and then struggled a tad at Nebraska - Will Mahan, come on down! Mahan has been pretty good.

There is a bit of tension surrounding this topic, particularly with UW coach Steve Sarkisian. Right now, it appears Rasp is the driver, and Mahan is the chipper - so to speak. But it is fair to ask the question - can't just one guy fill the role permanently?