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For Fautanu and His UW Offensive Line, the Truth Doesn't Hurt

Being frank with each other is one reason for Husky success up front.
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Watching from afar, a former decorated offensive lineman for the University of Washington concluded that last year's players up front appeared way too nice. In his mind, there simply weren't enough street brawlers making people uncomfortable, whether it be opponents or teammates.

Sophomore standout Troy Fautanu is happy to report that no one among his Husky linemen would even think now of humming the tune to "Feelings," that frank discussions in the heat of the battle are something no one tiptoes around anymore.

"I just think the accountability we have to each other and upholding that standard that they set out for us is a lot different than we had last year," said Fautanu, who has started in each of the first four games, either at left tackle or left guard.

And how so?

From tackle to tackle, people are more brutally honest, all in the name of living up to higher expectations in Montlake.

"We didn't have guys call each other out during games like, 'Why did you give that up? Why didn't you finish?' " he said. "Like stuff like that, like being able to be confident in your brother next to you and like, 'You need to pick it up,' like when he's not doing his best, is something not a lot of teams have. That's why we're having a lot of success."

It's an eclectic mix of players now with left tackle Jaxson Kirkland, the two-time All-Pac-12 player finally able to return to the field against Stanford; Fautanu hailed as the next great Husky lineman no matter which position he plays; redshirt freshman right tackle Roger Rosengarten showing great promise so early in his career; and seniors Henry Bainivalu at right guard and Corey Luciano at center ably filling out the first unit.

Troy Fautanu is establishing himself as a main player on the Husky offensive line.

Troy Fautanu has turned into a leader on the UW offensive line.

What's a little mind-boggling is that the Huskies struggled so badly in 2021 and the coaching staff didn't turn more to the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Fautanu, who ended up starting three times at tackle and guard.

Should he have played more?

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"Hey man, that's not up to me," Fautanu said. "Of course, I always want to be on the field, because I feel I can change the game and just do something to to impact the game. It's good to be out there."

However, he answers to the same offensive-line coach in Scott Huff, who walked him past during this interview and gave Fautanu a playful shove and was someone working with some players not yet fully developed.  

"Coming into this year, a lot of us that didn't play it wasn't for no reason," Fautanu said. "A lot of us were so young, a lot of us were still growing. But everyone sees each other different and I'm just happy I'm out there."

Next up for the Husky offensive line and all of their teammates is the team's first road game, a Friday night match-up against UCLA at the Rose Bowl in a game nationally televised by ESPN.

Fautanu will find himself trying to block former Husky teammate Laiatu Latu, someone he used to regularly go up against in practice but who now plays edge rusher for the Bruins and leads the conference in sacks with 5.

"I'm going against my brother sweet Laiatu Latu," he said. "We're brothers off the field, but it's war come Friday. None of that stuff matters off the field. Yeah, we can be cool and all, but it's going to be a good one. It's going to be our first road test. I'm excited to get after those guys."

And, if it comes down to it, get after some of his teammates, too. No more Mr. Nice Guys.

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