Honestly, they can be pretty damn good.
Despite losing something like 10,000 yards of total offense with the departures of Keith Price, Bishop Sankey, and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, the Huskies return the deepest and most talented team they have had since the 2000 Rose Bowl team.
The entire offensive line returns in tact, along with starters at wide receiver and three running backs who saw action in 2013 behind Sankey.
The Defense is the really exciting side of the ball – they return seven starters, three of whom (Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Marcus Peters) are projected high NFL draft picks. There hasn’t been this much talent on the defense since…uh…since the Jason Chorak teams? The Lawyer Milloy teams?
Frankly, the timing of the defensive rebirth for the Washington Huskies couldn’t have been better timed. With a stingy and experienced defense, it will allow the offense to break in a new Quarterback and stable of running backs.
Coupled with a cupcake non-conference schedule, Chris Petersen‘s first UW team has a very soft landing to work out the kinks on offense and decide on a starting quarterback.
Barring a catastrophe, UW should welcome Stanford to Seattle with a 4-0 record on September 27th for a battle of two Top 15 teams. If UW can play Stanford tough, as they have the past two years, they have a legitimate chance at being 6-0 (sorry Cal) when they head to Eugene for their annual thrashing at the hands of Oregon.
While I don’t have grand illusions of beating the Ducks in Eugene, this isn’t the same Oregon team as years past – even with Marcus Mariota under center, there are unproven players at the skill positions. Gone are the human highlight reels De’Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff.
Realistically, UW can get through their annual Stanford/Oregon Gauntlet with a 6-1 or 5-2 record. The second half of the schedule also sets up really nicely -UCLA and ASU, two other ranked teams, are on the dockett but they both have to come to Seattle.
Weird things happen to UW in Arizona, and even stranger things happen in the Apple Cup when it’s in Pullman, but I think it’s fair to say UW is more talented than both Arizona and WSU. Being realistic once more, let’s say UW splits with UCLA and ASU and wins in Tuscon which puts them with at 9-3 going into the Apple Cup.
Even though WSU is markedly improved under Mike Leach, I still think the Huskies win this football game to get to 10 wins. If Steve Sarkisian is still coaching, I have much less faith in this happening. Thankfully, he isn’t. In a game like The Apple Cup, on the road in Pullman, the littlest things matter. The details.
Sark’s teams lost games because they did not pay attention to details. Dumb mistakes and careless play were trademarks of UW road games under Sark. Chris Petersen leaves nothing to chance – no detail is too small.
So really, how good can this team be? I think it’s reasonable to expect ten wins. It’s not unreasonable to think that they could get to 11 because they have UCLA, ASU and Stanford at home – and I don’t believe they’ll lose twice at home.
I think they’ll go 2-1 in those three games and finish 11-2 with losses to Oregon and UCLA/Stanford/ASU. Wouldn’t that be something?
Bow down and go Dawgs.