1.) Justin Wilcox Fixing a Broken Defense
Once he was hired, it seemed logical that Wilcox would manage to begin the process of repairing an embarrassing defense following the Alamo Bowl disaster. Turns out, he managed to not just improve the defense, he made it the strength of the team. In fact, in total defense, the team went from 106th in 2011 to 30th in 2012. Can’t ask for a whole lot more than that in a single season.
2.) Bishop Sankey Becoming a Feature Back
From the preseason expectations of running back 1B, splitting carries with Jesse Callier to 259 carries for 1234 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. While it was easy to begin to see Sankey as the feature back, it would have been crazy to predict this sort of production preseason, or after Sankey’s miserable LSU performance.
3.) A Positive Turnover Margin
While it doesn’t always get a ton of attention, a team’s turnover margin over an entire season can almost always serve as a window into the success of a team. Not a lot of dominant team’s with negative margins, not a lot of horrible teams with a positive margin. For Washington, the +7 margin seems about right. Above average, ranking 33rd in the country, but not among the very top tier. A lot of this has to do with a ball-hawking secondary, but credit also has to go to Keith Price as well. While he has struggled, the fact that he hasn’t tried to force things to much has meant that his 11 interceptions matches up exactly with last year’s number. Now, if only he could stop fumbling so much…
4.) Desmond Trufant Fulfilling His Potential
Starting since his freshman year, Trufant has finally made himself into a complete, dominant cover corner in his final year at the University of Washington. While his contribution will not show up in his personal stats, whether it be tackles or even his number of interceptions, anyone paying attention to Trufant has seen his ability to shut down skilled wide receivers. Expect a 2nd or 3rd round selection in the NFL Draft and, in my opinion, a solid professional career for him.
5.) Five-star Shaq Thompson Playing Like a Five-star Player
There was so much hype over the number one safety in the country after he committed in the spring, and yet, so often star recruits turn out to be so much less than they were said to be by recruiting services. Especially when a player is named a starter as a true freshman, the start can be slow, and the fans can quickly find themselves disappointed. But in Shaq’s case, that just wasn’t the case. 60 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions is more than should ever be expected from a first year player fresh out of high school, and the sky is the limit for Thompson heading into his sophomore and junior seasons.