The Prince of the Huskies' 1984 Purple Reign defense, tackle Ron Holmes, is gone. "The ultimate loss," says linebacker Joe Kelly. But have no fear, Reggie Rogers is here. Make that Reginald Rogers, as indicated by the perfectly scripted lettering on the driver's door of his black 1984 320i BMW, a gift from his brother, Cleveland defensive back Don Rogers. "I guess you could call me the big play man, more or less," says Reggie.
Rogers moved from outside linebacker to tackle in the spring to take advantage of his pass-rushing ability and, uh, aggressive tendencies. "I was fond of picking up guys, throwing 'em down and seeing how many times they bounce," says Rogers. Anyway, if Rogers has even half as much impact as Holmes, whom Tampa Bay made the eighth pick in the NFL draft, Washington could go all the way. That's because the offense should be better than last season, when the Huskies went 11-1 and beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. It better be.
"Our defense was so good that all the offense was thinking about was how to avoid doing something stupid," says senior quarterback Hugh Millen, who's 8-0 as a starter. Washington lost two excellent receivers in Danny Greene and Mark Pattison, as well as three senior tailbacks. However, considering the role they played in the '84 offense and the returning talent, so what? The Huskies were last in the Pac-10 in passing and only seventh in total offense.
The new wide receivers are Mo Hill, who didn't go to Arizona State because pictures of his father, J.D. Hill, "are all over the wall," and big-play specialist David Trimble, an excellent all-around athlete who was in the Blue Jay minor league system before deciding on football. The steadiness of sophomore tailback David Toy will be a welcome relief after four years of the unpredictable Jacque Robinson.
Despite a less than formidable attack last fall, the Huskies led the Pac-10 in scoring, primarily because the Purple Reign led the conference in both takeaways (a school record 51) and in average turnover margin (+2.5 per game). "It will be hard for us to be as good defensively as we were last year," says coach Don James. But outstanding players abound in every area—Rogers and tackle Steve Alvord on the line; Kelly, who has run a 4.5 40, at linebacker; and Vestee Jackson, Ron Milus and Tim Peoples in the secondary. If these key people perform well and if the Huskies can adjust to Oklahoma State's power I, BYU's passing circus and Houston's veer in its first three games, there's no reason the Purple Reign has to fall.
Rogers has made a name for himself with his keenness for wiping out ballcarriers.