Through two games of this 2013 season, the Huskies have clearly played well on both sides of the ball. The defense has showed a lot of prowess, keeping Boise State without a touchdown and containing the Illini offense on the road after they had just put up 45 on a decent Cincinnati team. The offense obviously has played outstanding, racking up about 600 yards of offense in each of their games. So far, the Huskies don’t have a glaring weakness on either side of the ball. This, I believe, along with greater team maturity, is the difference between this year and the previous two seasons in the Price-Sarkisian era.
In 2011, the Husky defense was astonishingly bad. They allowed 36 points per game, and capped the season with an embarrassing 67-56 loss to Baylor. The defensive backs couldn’t tackle in space, the linebackers couldn’t stop the run or cover the receivers, and the whole defensive scheme broke down in epic fashion. Then, in the offseason they pretty much cleaned house and hired Justin Wilcox as the new defensive coordinator. The defense returned many starters, got a new scheme, and looked really good in 2012. Unfortunately, even though the offense was stellar in 2011, the Huskies lost 4 of 5 O-Line starters, their top two receivers, their starting runningback and their offensive coordinator following the season. In 2012, after averaging over 33 points per game in ’11, the Huskies offense only averaged 24 points per game in 2012. The offensive line was too inexperienced, there were no good targets in the passing game after Williams and ASJ, and Price regressed majorly. The past two years, the Huskies haven’t made it past 7-6 because they have had a few really good units, and a few really bad units.
This year is different in that the Dawgs do not have a terrible (fill in the blank). The offense, the defense, the coaching, even the special teams are good. There is no singular area a quality opponent can focus on attacking in order to dominate a weak unit. The only units in question coming into this year were the offensive line, the defensive backs, and the kicking game. So far the offensive line has won the line of scrimmage in both games, leading Sankey to a 184.5 yards per game average (best in the nation) and they have only allowed three sacks, one of which was completely Price’s fault. The defensive backfield has been so much better than expected. Trufant might be gone, but a lot of people may have already forgotten because of how well they have played. They have allowed 366 yards over two games, a 54% completion rate, and only 5.1 yards per pass attempt. The kicking game has been perfect so far, hitting on 3 of 3 field goals, and Coons has looked better than last year, probably due to the fact that he was challenged for his job all fall camp by true freshman Cameron Van Winkle. All the areas of concern coming into this year aren’t concerning anymore.
As far as the rest of the position groups go, they have been as good or better than expected. Price is looking as good as we thought he could be after that 2011 season, Sankey is a monster and this season he actually has depth behind him. I believe the Dawgs have the best group of receivers in the Pac-12, the defensive line is doing well and the linebackers monstrous, just how we thought they would be. There is no glaring weakness, no obvious gaping holes. That is the difference between this team and every Husky team in the last decade. This team is strong all around, and that is why this could turn out to be ‘the season’ for the Huskies, a season where Washington gets back on the national scene and makes a serious push for the Pac-12 title and a Rose Bowl.