The Washington Football team has a number of key players returning from last season’s NCAA playoff group. But gone is the pass rush terror of JoJo Mathis. Who will step up for the team in quarterback sacks this year?
Sacking the quarterback is one of the highlights to any defense. Like a touchdown pass for the offense, a sack is a noteworthy achievement which meets the defense’s ultimate goal: Pushing the offense back for a loss. Washington Football is all about tough play. And sacking the quarterback is all about tough.
The quarterback sack was an area the Washington Football team did very well at in 2016. Despite injuries to JoJo Mathis and Azeem Victor, the team was second in the Pac-12 conference with 40 sacks. Four of the top players in quarterback sacks are not with the team this year. So who fills their void?
The Seven Sackmasters
Vita Vea – nose tackle Vita Vea may not be the statistical leader, but you can bet that pressure on the quarterback will begin with him. He was surprisingly effective last season, generating five sacks despite a constant stream of double teams. This year, the team is counting on Vea to put up similar numbers. He’ll do better than that.
Greg Gaines – defensive tackle Greg Gaines was another pleasant surprise from a year ago. He contributed 3.5 sacks last year, but could double that number this season. Known as a run-stopper, he is projected to have a breakout year.
Keishawn Bierra – Next on this list is Keishawn Bierra. Pitching in with two sacks a year ago, he is paired up with Azeem Victor and will dominate play this year. While pressuring the quarterback is just one of a myriad of reponsibilities for an interior linebacker, sacks are the some of the most enjoyable.
Azeem Victor – Azeem Victor fell to injury last year, and did not contribute a single quarterback sack for the Washington Football team. In fact, he has 1.5 quarterback sacks for his career. That changes this year. If the team struggles to get sacks early in the season, you can bet he will be a major player in blitz packages.
Off the edge
Tevis Bartlett – If someone had told me that Tevis Bartlett accounted for ten percent of the Washington Huskies quarterback sacks last season, I would accuse them of being mistaken. But he did contribute four of the 40 sacks for the team. The current depth chart from Ourlads.com has him playing behind redshirt freshman Armande Williams. Bartlett will be a menace to the opposing quarterback, whether starting or off the bench.
Connor O’Brien – Connor O’Brien generated three quarterback sacks last season. Entering his senior year, he will undoubtedly be motivated to go out with a bang. As a projected starter, he will get the lion’s share of minutes. How the team positions him on passing downs may limit his role at sacking the quarterback this year.
Armande Williams – 6-foot-2 223 pound red-shirt freshman is a newcomer for the Washington Football team. Even as a red-shirt freshman, Ourlads.com projects him as the starter. Can he do it? Will he pressure the QB? A year ago, there was no consensus about where the quarterback sacks would come from. But they came from unexpected sources a year ago. I think Williams delivers this year.