Saturday, March 17, 2012

#24 Washington

After last week's preview of the # 25 Florida Gators, we head to the Pacific Northwest with the Washington Huskies.

Washington started off 5-1 last year before losing 4 of their last 6 and falling to 7-5. Steve Sarkisian starts his fourth year at Washington and will try to get over the 7-6 hump he's had in the previous two years. Overall, Sark's record is 19-19 at Washington with a 1-1 bowl record. He has 16 returning starters overall and a very difficult first 6 games with LSU, Stanford, Oregon, and USC at the start.

The offense returns eight starters including four of their five offensive linemen. While the biggest lost will be running back Chris Polk, All Pac 12 Honorable Mention Keith Price returns at quarterback. Price was one of the most efficient red zone quarterbacks in the nation last year placing in the top five in red zone completion percentage, passing efficiency, touchdowns, and touchdown efficiency. With the departure of Chris Polk, Jessie Callier and Bishop Sankey will probably lead a duel backfield as the Huskies try to use a multi back system. Two great wide receivers in Jermaine Kearse and Devin Aguilar are headed to the NFL and Kevin Smith is unlikely to return from a knee injury making the experienced wide receivers for Washington rare. James Johnson will be leaned on heavily by Keith Price at first but look for some of the true freshmen and red shirt freshmen to step up.

The Husky defense was ranked 107 out of 120 in the NCAA and have a lot of room to improve. New Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox comes from Tennessee and looks to use the personnel he has inherited at Washington to form a fierce unit that mirrored his 28th ranked Tennessee Volunteer defense from last year. According to Jerry Brewer's column, Wilcox will be a coach who isn't coaching to  a system, but coaching to his players. He'll need to use a lot of coaching to get a defense that gave up an average of 35.8 points a game into a dominant one. The Husky faithful should feel better knowing that Justin Wilcox will be improving the weakest link of the team.

All in all I think the Huskies can go 8-4 with a possibility of 9-3. The first six games are brutal but if they can beat the two they are supposed too in San Diego St. and Portland St., then steal one from either LSU, Stanford, Oregon or USC, they will be heading into the final six games 3-3 and would probably be favored in them all.

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