(3) Can defensive tackle Greg Gaines anchor the front seven?
Senior defensive tackle Greg Gaines has played alongside both Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea. And in each of the past two seasons, he has said farewell to both teammates as they entered the NFL via the draft in each of the past two seasons. Now, it is his turn to play his heart out and hopefully hear his own name called in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Gaines is a surprise to some, but not much of a surprise to Washington Football fans. He is the epitome of Coach Petersen’s “Our Kinda Guy – or OKG” recruiting. He is selfless to a fault. In football talk, he is a “blocker gobbler“, sacrificing himself against two or three offensive linemen so that one of his teammates go unblocked and can make an uncontested play on the ball carrier.
This season, he will be expected to deliver more. No longer is his responsibility to just eat up blockers, he must now defeat double and even triple teams. He is the first line of defense for that Washington Huskies defense. That means he must stop the ball carrier on or behind the line of scrimmage. It also means he must chase down the quarterback for sacks this season.
As far as the running game? I am confident Gaines is up to the task. What we need to see this year is pressure on the quarterback. Do that, and he seals his path to the NFL no later than day two. But does he have the mentality to turn from selfless mountain to fierce beast in the trenches? I think he does. If not for himself, for his teammates. If that’s what they need him to do, he will find some way to deliver.