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Offensive Newcomers to Watch: No. 3
Riva won't overpower people on a regular basis and while he's a good athlete, he isn't of the elite caliber you see over on the left side. His feet a good though, he has long arms which allow him to keep pass-rushers at bay and he's aggressive which the coaches love.
The key concerns for Riva will be how he handles the edge-rushes in the the Pac 12 and if he can get low enough to drive defenders off the ball in the running game. If he does both of those well, it will allow the Huskies to do much more along their offensive line and that could alleviate some of the concerns about the position for the rest of the year.
Time to make his mark - This is Riva's best chance to find a starting spot along the offensive line. Washington doesn't have a lot of options at tackle and offensive line and only Erik Kohler has much experience at the position. There is even some talk of senior center Drew Schaefer moving outside, but it should be pretty obvious that the coaches would prefer to leave Schaefer, a two-year starter in the pivot, inside if they can.
The competition - As noted above, Erik Kohler is likely Riva's biggest competition for the starting right tackle position.
However, from looking at how the coaches have positioned guys, it seems as if the coaches would prefer for Riva to win the job with his play, allowing Kohler to move inside to right guard (his more natural position).
It's hard to imagine incoming freshmen Jake Eldrenkamp, Nathan Dean or Taylor Hindy challenging Riva right away for the spot, so this appears to be a battle of two third year players.
There is also a possibility that Dexter Charles could wind up outside if the need arises due to his outstanding athleticism, but he is currently slotted inside at left guard where he will battle Colin Tanigawa if or when Tanigawa returns to full health.
Quoteable - "He's a physical guy, a guy that is willing, cares, plays hard. I think Ben, when he gets in trouble, he loses the discipline of the fundamentals and the techniques provided and that's when he struggles, and when you are going against a Josh Shirley or an Andrew Hudson or a Talia Crichton, or even a Nate Fellner or a Princeton Fuimaono coming off the edge, when you don't use those proper fundamentals and techniques you get beat, so that's the challenge for Ben to consistently play with those proper fundamentals and techniques. It's not about want-to with Ben, he's an extremely willing kid, he plays hard and physical. It's about doing things right consecutively down after down after down.'' -- Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian on what Riva brings to the table and what he needs to work on
"Ever since I was a little kid, I've watched the UW offensive line just roll guys, and now I'm one of them. I need to embody that and I need to take that to heart. Coach has said … to bring it every day and show that, because if I don't do that, I'm doing the guys that came before me a disservice." -- Riva on what motivates him
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