One of the most entertaining college basketball National Championship games is in the books. After watching Peyton Siva (sigh) lead Louisville to a title, my mind turned to football. UW is fully engulfed in the second phase of its spring practices, and the more I think about the 2013 team, the more I get the itch for August 31.
While I am always pumped for the first game of a new UW football season, this opener feels different for a few reasons.
- New Husky Stadium – for any of us who grew up going to games, not having Husky Stadium in 2012 was brutal. Now, we have a renovated stadium and brand new football facilities that rival any in the country paired with one of the most picturesque settings in all of football, pro or college.
- The Opponent – I know we played Boise State in the bowl game last year, but this game has been marked on our calendar for years. This was always the dream matchup – first game in the new Husky Stadium against everybody’s BCS busting darlings, and a chance to show everybody that the Huskies still are a power in the Northwest.
However, the biggest reason I am so excited and intrigued is the 2013 roster. It is dripping with talent, perhaps more so than any UW roster in the past decade. There is depth at nearly all positions for the first time since Neuheisel was roaming the sidelines, and there is not a need for true freshman to step in and play immediately – the only way that will happen is if the freshman in question is THAT good (ahem, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Darrell Daniels, Joe Mathis and Elijah Qualls). If you go up and down the roster, there is a legitimate NFL player at every position (maybe with the exception of offensive line) for the first time since Jim Lambright was coaching. Don’t believe me? Check it out:
QB: Cyler Miles
RB: Bishop Sankey
WR: Kasen Williams
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins
DE: Hauoli Jamora
DT: Danny Shelton
LB: Shaq Thompson
DB: Sean Parker
Even better? There are experienced ball players behind all of those guys. The depth is something this program has been craving. At the apex of the Willingham debacle, the cupboard was so bare that our starting safety in the 2008 Apple Cup was Tripper Johnson, who happened to be a friend of mine from high school – he graduated from high school in 2000, played minor league baseball for seven years, washed out, and then walked on at UW. By the end of his first season, he was starting at free safety. Granted, he was the best athlete that I ever had the pleasure of playing sports with, but a Division-I level starter? If you’ll recall, he was the one who got torched on the play that allowed WSU to get in position to kick the game tying field goal…I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit thinking about that game and season, sorry.
The point is, there are explosive athletes all over the field on both sides of the ball. Depth at QB in case Price doesn’t revert to his 2011 form, a stable of running backs to spell Sankey, a 10-man rotation on the defensive line and athletes in the secondary we haven’t seen since…well, maybe ever.
The IF here, and it’s a big IF, is how they develop. This is year five of the Sarkisian experience. This team is filled with his players; it’s all his system. Now he has to show that in addition to recruiting highly rated kids, he can teach them. He and his staff now have to develop the kids they threw into the fire a year ago in to the players they are expected to be. The talent is there, the depth is there, will the wins be there? We will see in August.