Chris Petersen enters year two with the Washington Huskies under some pressure to show progress towards becoming a contender in the Pac-12. That progress might be difficult to achieve in 2015, however, with a rebuilding effort on defense, questions at quarterback, and now issues along the offensive line following the news that the team’s most experienced offensive lineman, Dexter Charles, will be retiring from football prior to the season for medical reasons.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound senior has been dealing with a lingering knee injury this offseason that kept him sidelined during spring practice which apparently has not healed the way that Charles was hoping it would, leading to his early retirement. He was the team’s only returning full-time starter on the offensive line heading into the 2015 season and was by far their most experienced lineman with 30 starts under his belt over the last three seasons. In 2013, Charles was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection and was penciled in as a starter at guard this fall, though he’s spent time playing multiple positions on the line.
His loss will be a big one for an offensive line that is looking to make serious improvements across the board. Last season, Washington ranked No. 11 in the conference in passing offense partly because they gave up 28 sacks on the year (two per game), tied for 16th most in college football. With uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into the fall, Petersen was likely hoping to rely on solid play from his offensive line to help whoever ends up at the No. 1 spot find his rhythm without having to run for his life. But without a leader like Dexter Charles available, the offensive line may not be a reliable group that the team can rely on to start the year.
Washington has a tough road ahead of them to prove that they are Pac-12 contenders in 2015 and that road got even tougher after Dexter Charles announced his retirement from football. Can the Husky offensive line regroup and provide a solid foundation for the UW offense this fall?