While Jimmy Lake searches for someone to step up at quarterback, the new University of Washington football coach pointed to his inside linebackers as one of the team strengths.
A year ago, the ILB position area was the Huskies' weakest. As the defensive coordinator, Lake was forced to start a pair of fifth-year seniors who hadn't played much at all and realistically didn't have the foot speed that's blessed this line of defense in recent years.
Lake likes what he sees now, calling the inside linebackers and the defensive secondary as the two most well-stocked units on his team.
"They were all young last year, but we feel they all took a step towards the end of the year where they finished the season extremely well, in the Apple Cup and in the bowl game," the coach said of the LBs. "We have all of those guys back. Our inside linebacker corps is extremely deep."
When the season ended, walk-on Edefuan Ulofoshio was a starter and not long after the season ended a scholarship recipient. He played alongside Jackson Sirmon, now a fellow sophomore, and they're likely the first-teamers at inside linebacker coming in.
The Huskies also are eager to play promising redshirt freshmen Miki Ah-You, Josh Calvert and Daniel Heimuli for the first time, plus return sophomore MJ Tafisi to the field after his season-ending neck stinger.
The secondary returns four of five starters, led by senior All-America cornerback candidate Elijah Molden, plus senior corner Keith Taylor, sophomore corner Trent McDuffie and sophomore safety Cameron Williams. It's a given this group should be good.
"We have everybody but Myles Bryant back, who's now with the New England Patriots, and some very talented players who should push them," Lake said.
Lake will prepare his team for its season opener on either November 6 or 7, depending on the Pac-12 schedule, which he hopes will be released next week.
The coach announced that he's lost the services of center Cole Norgaard, a 6-foot-5, 284-pound junior from Clements, California, to medical retirement. Norgaard has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons. He'll stay in school and earn his degree.
Lake said he was confident the team can stay relatively virus-free as it moves forward with the late-starting season because of the rapid-testing equipment in place, plus the team commitment to following COVID-19 protocols.
"It goes back to our goals," he said. "If we want to reach our goals, we can't bring the virus into this building. The team that does that the best will most likely be holding up the trophy."
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