Washington football didn’t have the greatest pass rush during the 2018 season, but how can that change in 2019?
Washington football is adding in some new faces along the defensive line, and after recording four sacks in week one against a very experienced Eastern Washington offensive line, it looks like the Husky pass rush is on the uptick in 2019.
The Huskies have some real veteran weapons on the outside in Joe Tryon, Ariel Ngata, Ryan Bowman, and Myles Rice. Tryon is an athletic freak that’s starting to refine his pass rush arsenal, and when it all comes together for him, he’ll be close to unblockable on the edge. Bowman has been effective in spurts off the edge, even though he’s a better run defender.
The backups can be just as effective as the starters, as we saw Rice get two sacks against Jacob Eason in the spring preview, and Ngata has speed and quickness that can throw off any offensive tackle. We can also throw Laiatu Latu into the mix, who has the raw talent and athletic ability to be a double digit sack player.
While Greg Gaines is an amazing player, he didn’t typically get the same kind of inside push that Vita Vea would get when he was starting at defensive tackle. The Huskies will get that kind of push back on the inside this year from Levi Onwuzurike and Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week Benning Potoa’e. While neither are as strong as Vea, they both possess incredible short area quickness that most interior offensive linemen can’t keep up with.
Adding in talented, gigantic backups Sam Taimani and Tuli Letuligasenoa, the Huskies can get a great push from the inside as well, and collapse the pocket from the inside, which could potentially force throws into tight coverage or just force the quarterback to go down.
What’s the ceiling for this unit?
This team has the talent to break the 50 sack mark in a season. The two toughest offensive line tests for this group will be Oregon and Stanford, and after seeing the way Auburn’s Derrick Brown wreak havoc during their matchup with the Ducks in week one, the Huskies can absolutely dominate that matchup.
Is 50 sacks a huge number? Yes, absolutely, especially after the Huskies only recorded 24 sacks during the 2018 campaign. But with an improved group in 2019, more talented players rising on the depth chart, and a lockdown secondary, the number is a lot more attainable than you might think.