Seahawks and Huskies Go Into Weekend Asking: Where’s My Line?
Football, you will have been told your entire football-watching life, is won “in the trenches.” Look no further than our local teams for proof. Washington offensive linemen made All-American teams 8 times between 1990-2000–and the team had a winning record every year. Since, no All-American offensive lineman, and not much winning, either. Likewise, your Seattle Seahawks have not managed a winning season since legendary left tackle Walter Jones retired.
Most of the buzz around the Huskies this week concerned Steve Sarkisian’s announcement that he’ll no longer allow reporters to divulge “strategy or injury-related news observed during practices”–a.k.a. “report news.” Other Pac-12 teams censor injury talk, so the Huskies, according to Sarkisian, had “a pretty big competitive disadvantage.”
Another competitive disadvantage the Huskies have–possibly even bigger than whether or not other teams know that the third-string long snapper tripped over a bench and skinned his knee–is that the offensive line is disappearing.
–Before the season, guard Colin Porter had to quit football because of a degenerative shoulder injury.
–Two weeks ago, in the season opener, tackle Ben Riva broke his forearm. He’s out another 3 weeks.
–Guard Erik Kohler recently suffered his second dislocated kneecap of the fall. He’s out for a few weeks.
–Tackle Colin Tanagawa didn’t practice Tuesday with a knee injury.
That leaves center Drew Schaefer as the lone starter standing. He’s flanked on both sides by green recruits. Sarkisian may be forced to take the rare step of starting a true freshman, right guard Shane Brostek, on the offensive line Saturday. Brostek at least has some All-American pedigree–he’s the son of former Husky center Bern Brostek, a 1989 All-American who started as a redshirt freshman and had an 8-year NFL career. (Happened to look in the 1987 media guide, and Hawaiian-born Bern had the most awesome “personal interests” entry: “Likes to body surf and lift weights.”)
The Huskies offense ranks is 114th out of 120 teams in rushing yards, and 109th in sacks allowed. They should be able to improve on those numbers this week, since they’re playing lower-division Portland State (1 pm, FX). This game could be a window to the rest of the season. If the Huskies’ young lineman can’t blow Portland State’s trench-minders off the line, they’ll be hopeless against Pac-12 competition. I will make a prediction: If the Huskies do not rush for at least 150 yards against Portland State, they will only win four games.
The dumbest football story line of the week surrounds the Seahawks game vs. Dallas (1:05 pm, FOX), which will be the first visit to Seattle for Cowboys QB Tony Romo since he botched the hold on a potential game-winning field goal in a 2006 playoff game. It was five years ago, Romo’s no longer the holder on field goals, and if human beings couldn’t go back to places where they once screwed up we’d be a pretty immobile species. No one cares about this. The real question in the game is whether the Seahawks’ offensive line’s performance against Arizona (3.5 yards per rush, 3 sacks allowed) was due to a legendary performance by Cardinals’ 3-tech defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, as Pete Carroll would like you to believe, or a harbinger of disaster. The Cowboys’ pass rush is as or more potent, but in a different place. Whereas Darnell Dockett attacked inside, the Cowboys attack from the edge. The Seahawks may be better equipped to deal with this type of attack, possibly moreso because Dallas’s top pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware, was limited in practice with a tight hamstring. If the Seahawks can’t protect their quarterback up the middle or on the edge? Well, see above win prediction for Huskies.
Meantime, the Seahawks defense has to deal with the Cowboys’ potent offensive attack, with two top-notch wide receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Dallas is a three point favorite in the game.
Washington State plays tonight at UNLV (6pm, ESPN). You wouldn’t think the Cougars, who were blown out by BYU and barely beat lower-division Eastern Washington, could be favored in a road game, but UNLV is atrocious and getting 8 points against Wazzu. The line has shrunk from 11 points earlier in the week, since Cougars starting QB Jeff Tuel didn’t take a snap in practice due to a lower leg injury suffered against Eastern. It seems likely that backup Connor Halliday, a redshirt sophomore, will start against the Rebels.
If you have a hankering for some Friday Night Lights, the best Seattle-area high school game will be #10-ranked 4A Issaquah vs. #2-ranked 3A O’Dea at West Seattle Stadium (7pm). Up north, there’s a classic cross-town rivalry game Friday night between Cascade and Everett at Everett Memorial Stadium (7pm). Saturday’s game between Hale and the resurgent Roosevelt Roughriders at Northeast Athletic Complex (a.k.a., Hale, 1pm) could be a good one too.