The 2016 Washington football season is over after the playoff loss to Alabama, but it was a season to be remembered and built upon.
With the College Football Playoff semifinal now over, we can take a deep breath and realize that despite the loss to the Crimson Tide, this season was far from a failure for the Huskies.
Many picked the Huskies to do well in 2016, with some going as far as to say challenger for the Pac-12 title. Most left it at “two years out”. Yet there the Huskies were, one game away from the national championship game.
It’s silly to spend a lot of time talking about why Washington lost to Alabama. It was clear, from the second quarter on, that Bama was the better team in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. They were more athletic, deeper and had a defense that clearly plays on another level.
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But a loss in the playoff isn’t the end, and with so much young talent on this team, there’s a lot to be excited about in 2017.
Youth is on Washington’s side, with only 13 seniors graduating on the entire roster, and 20 redshirt freshmen who could potentially be contributors. The Huskies were the youngest team in the nation in 2015, which means all that young talent is going to really be showcased next season.
The young Huskies defense played out of their minds this season, and showed against Alabama that they could compete. Much of that defense is certain to return and only get better, which could be a frightening thought for the rest of the Pac-12.
In short, the Huskies have their coach, they have their quarterback, and he’s surrounded with a lot of talent. They now have playoff experience, and should be favorites to return to the Pac-12 championship game next season.
We saw in 2016 how Washington performed when they were the trendy pick and had a tendency to sneak up on people. 2017 will provide Chris Petersen’s team with an opportunity to show what they can do with the target on their chests.
2016 was the beginning of what could be a long run of titles and successful seasons for the Huskies, and for a new dynasty to take root in the Pac-12.