some growing pains near the beginning of the season
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For the rest of his career, Washington defensive back coach Jimmy Lake can be thankful for that first season in Seattle. In that 2014 season he walked into the Huskies meeting room with only one player having significant experience, knowing that there was a good chance he d be starting at least one of his seven signees from the incoming recruiting class.

Because of that season he can approach any spring, even a spring where he returns one starter cough, like what he s going through right now and feel like he has dealt with far worse.

That was really the youngest, most green group, Lake said of the 2014 crew. Nobody knew our system. Nobody knew our personalities.

But now, Lake is afforded the benefit that almost every player who will be in the Huskies two deep next season even if he might be young knows Washington s system and personalities.

At safety, Lake describes his group as veteran, which is half true. The one returning starter in the Washington secondary is strong safety Jojo McIntosh. Taylor Rapp, who played significant reps near the end of the season, will likely become the starter at free safety. Both of those guys will battle it out with Ezekiel Turner and Trevor Walker who both have spent three years in Washington s system giving the Huskies solid talent and depth at both safety spots.

Strong safety Jojo McIntosh will be the elder statesmen in a Washington secondary that lost quite a bit of experience. Casey Sapio/USA Today Sports
At corner is where it gets a bit more dicey. Sidney Jones and Kevin King took the majority of the reps for Washington over the past few seasons, so it s fair to say that group will likely look far more inexperienced than the safeties.

At corner, we have guys and this is what you want when you re building a program you have guys waiting in the wings ready to take over, Lake said. We ll definitely be on the younger side on the outside, but we have guys who have played college football before and now it s their time to shine.

Rising junior Jordan Miller, who has been a backup in the secondary but has also played a lot on special teams, could end up coming out of this spring as a frontrunner for one of the two starting corner spots. He ll see competition from Austin Joyner, Byron Murphy and converted running back Jomon Dotson.

Without any of the Huskies defensive back signees enrolling until fall, the true freshmen for 2017 Elijah Molden, Brandon McKinney and Keith Taylor will enter fall camp at least a step behind.

And while this group isn t as green as Lake s 2014 crew, he is taking lessons learned from that group and enacting them with his current assortment of players.

The things that I learned from 2014, and the things I guess I ve always done, whether it s an [NFL] rookie or a freshman, Lake said, you ve got to have a lot of extra meetings with them, you ve got to have your arm around them at all times. Everything is a learning experience and you have to support them and be right there for them.

With just one returning starter off a group that led the Pac 12 by giving up just 13 passing touchdowns AJ Carty Jersey, Lake could find himself having a few extra meetings this spring and offseason as he works in a new batch of defensive backs to replace Budda Baker, Jones and King.

And, as in 2014, there will likely be some growing pains near the beginning of the season. Washington showed its youth early that year, giving up 12 passing touchdowns in the first five games, before settling in and giving up only 14 more the rest of the season.

Progress for that group wasn t always obvious the Huskies gave up at least 300 passing yards in five of their final six games but what this 2017 secondary has over that 2014 one is the fact that no one with the exception of true freshmen is learning a new system or adjusting to a new coaching staff.

That alone along with Lake s confidence in this group should have Huskies fans feeling solid.