Sep 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver Jaydon Mickens (4) scores a touchdown against Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Mason Monheim (43) during the second half at Soldier Field. Washington defeats Illinois 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Huskies Football: How Good Can UW Be?

Sep 14, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Gregory Ducre (18) makes an interception against Illinois Fighting Illini wide receiver Spencer Harris (80) during the second half at Soldier Field. Washington defeats Illinois 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Undefeated. That’s where the Huskies are after two games. But I bet you thought I was answering the title posed on the question. Not quite. This is the best Huskies team in recent memory, but it would still be a stretch to suggest they can go undefeated. That being said, with the most explosive offense I have ever seen from the Huskies (granted, I haven’t been alive for all that long), this team does have potential to crash the Pac-12 party and I say with very cautious optimism (okay fine too much optimism), potentially contend for a Rose Bowl bid.

With the new and improved Husky offense going at a million miles a minute, Keith Price and the offensive unit have the potential to score points at an Oregon Duck-like pace. There were stretches in this game where the Dawgs were averaging a play every 12 seconds. 12 seconds. In the time it takes you to shut off your alarm and get out of bed the Huskies have run two offensive plays. With that pace and the skill of the young guys like Ross and Mickens, combined with the veteran stars Keith Price, Bishop Sankey, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, and Kasen Williams, it is not a stretch for this team to average over 40 points a game. The Huskies have scored 38 and 34 points in their first two games respectively, with only 10 in each of the first halves. One of the key factors that is holding them back however, is penalties. With over 100 total penalty yards against Illinois and a similarly high number against Boise State, they have made too many mistakes to get off to good offensive starts. If they can cut down on the penalties and get off to faster starts, there is no question in my mind that the Huskies could have an offensive unit that could rank at the top of the conference.

As good as the offense has been, I have actually been just as impressed with the defense so far this year. This is not to say the defense is as good as the offense, but I always knew the offense could potentially be this good. The defense on the other hand has been simply abysmal in recent years. Justin Wilcox has transformed this once weak and tentative defense into one that flies around the field making plays. The Huskies let up their first defensive touchdown this week, and it was with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter. They went over six quarters without giving up a touchdown! The turnaround is hard to fathom after how bad they were a few years ago with Nick Holt at the helm, but I am very optimistic about this defensive unit.

With the offense and defense at places they haven’t been in years, and the Huskies undefeated after two games, the question is begged, how good can this team be. My preseason prediction was nine wins for this squad, but they have showed the potential for double digit wins after starting so strong. With their next game being home against Idaho State, they should be 3-0 heading into conference play. They kick off the Pac-12 season with a very tough stretch, starting with Arizona at home, at Stanford, home against Oregon, and at Arizona State. This stretch is where we will truly see what type of team Washington is this season, and if they will be able to compete with the top of the Pac-12.

If the Huskies win all of the games they are supposed to win (Arizona, Cal, Colorado, and WSU at home, plus Oregon State on the road), they will have eight wins. That means to reach double digits they would have to win two out of their four games against the top of the conference. This includes the three game stretch with Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State, as well as later in the season playing UCLA in Pasadena. Considering three of those four games will be on the road, it will be a tough task, but I believe they have the potential to do so, and if they can continue to improve, this Washington team will be one of the better ones in recent memory.

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