The 2016 Washington Football team placed three defensive backs into the NFL in round two. Can DB coach Jimmy Lake repeat that performance with the 2017 defensive backfield?
The 2016 Washington Football team defensive backfield had no options. Put up, or shut up. The defensive front was propelled for the first six games by 25 tackles and five quarterback sacks from pass rushing specialist JoJo Mathis. Meanwhile defensive coach Jimmy Lake prepared the defensive backs to be ready for any challenge
When Mathis fell to a foot injury, someone had to step up. The four defensive backs coached by Jimmy Lake did just that. Cornerbacks Sidney Jones IV and Kevin King, safeties Budda Baker and JoJo McIntosh did more than just step up. As a matter of fact, they swarmed like hornets in the backfield for the rest of the season. So well, that the team not only played in the NCAA playoffs, but three of the four were chosen in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Changing of the guard
Only JoJo McIntosh remains to lead the squad this season. But the question in everyone’s mind is, can this group play at that same level?
More from The Husky Haul
- Pro Husky Shaq Thompson out for season with leg injury
- Washington Huskies begin conference play against Cal in Week 4
- Jack Westover is a breakout star for the Washington Huskies
- Washington football: Negatives and Positives in win over Michigan State
- Huskies offense slices through the Spartans in 41-7 win
We’ve explored the likely starters earlier in the season. The most likely player to line up at safety with McIntosh is the guy Sports Illustrated named the key to the defense, Taylor Rapp. Already a star in the making in 2016, he had a pair of two interception games from the nickel back position. Now he lines up full time.
Cornerback positions will likely open the season with 6-foot-1 junior Jordan Miller paired up with 5-foot-11 red-shirted freshman Byron Murphy. While Miller has seniority in the program, Murphy is getting a great deal of buzz .
Both will be pressed hard by Austin Joyner, who is eager to prove he has fully recovered from an ACL injury. Versatile, he fits into nickel packages and in kickoff returns this season. Look for him to find the field, as the coaches want to get his speed into the game.
The four defensive back are incredibly talented. And each will show up in a big way this season. But it will be a tall order to expect similar results, particularly early in the season. They will need some games to familiarize themselves with one another, particularly in the fourth quarter as opposing quarterbacks begin to air out the ball.
As a result, I do not expect either cornerback to shut down touchdown passes on either side. But there is a silver lining.
As a matter of fact, the offense this year will have no trouble moving the ball. And as the season progresses, the defensive backs will gain familiarity and experience. The team may not want to count on the defensive backs when this season opens, but they will be fine to do so late in the season.
The Washington Football team will return to the Pac-12 championship game thanks to the offense. The team will win that game thanks to the defense.