The second installment of my Pac-12 North Makeup series focuses on one of our more-hated Northwest rivals, the Washington Huskies. Some of you might know that I spent some time in the Seattle area (notice my use of a familiar jail stay term to describe my time in Tacoma) and having been around Husky fans, as well as watching the slimy Steve Sarkesian era, I have built a more than healthy distaste for the men in purple.
So imagine my delight, that after two straight years of beating the absolute pants off the Beavers, I get to predict what could be their worst season since the Jake Locker era. Below is a list of who they are replacing and who remains — as well as a hint at my prediction for them.
University of Washington Huskies:
What they lost:
I am trying to be brief in these sections for this series on the Pac-12 North, but honestly, this list is so long. Here we go:
Offensively, they lose every offensive lineman except LG Charles Dexter (who is a senior). They lose DiAndre Campbell at wide receiver as well.
Defensively, they lost seven starters, including all of their defensive line, all of their linebackers, and Marcus Peters, one of their best corners who had off the field issues last year (He was dismissed from the team). It is not just that they lost their front seven, but that they lost four players that went in the fist two rounds of the NFL draft last month. Danny Shelton, Shaq Thompson, and Peters went in the first round, while Hau’oli Kikaha went in the second. So these are not your typical losses, these were exceptional players. Thompson might have been the best athlete in the conference last year.
What they have coming back:
With the status of QB Cyler Myles up in the air (didn’t participate in spring practices), the Huskies have one of shakiest QB situations in the Pac-12 North. That being said, any team that has a receiver like John Ross can score on any play at any time. The question is if they are going to be able to get him the ball at all, after replacing so much off their line.
Defensively, when you’re playing WSU, Cal, the ducks, Stanford, and the Beavers, I am not sure they match up well against anyone. Of course game changers like Budda Baker are always dangerous, and their recruiting has been solid for a few years, so the well is not empty at all in terms of talent.
Their secondary, minus Peters, is a pretty impressive group. Led by Baker, they have a lot of great players and play physical all the time. While they may have to cover a lot longer than they are used to, there is a lot of talent to work with.
The trenches. While new players doesn’t always mean terrible performances, it does mean a lot of unknowns. So for now, it will be a mystery how UW’s front seven handles stout offensive lines like Stanford’s (who may not have lost much in an under-performing Andrus Peat). Boise State’s and USC’s. Heck, the Beavers return a lot of talented pieces on their offensive line that could be very difficult for the Huskies. Then you factor in how their linebackers are going to perform against confusing offenses such as the ducks, Cal, WSU and OSU?
Flip that to the offensive line and they are going to be going against defensive lines such as ASU, USC, Stanford, Utah — and I will throw in Boise State again. There is a lot of difficult matchups for the Huskies this year and with a two tough out of conference games (at BSU and at home against Utah State), and then a road schedule of USC, ASU, OSU, and Stanford, there are some difficult times ahead for the Huskies.
Way Too Early Prognostication:
Historically, you don’t make a lot of money betting against Chris Peterson-coached teams. That being said, I think he way underperformed last year with a pretty stellar, experienced team. Peterson has been wildly successful in the past, but he has never had to grind like he does now. Just ask Utah what the jump is like.
With all the losses the Huskies have in terms of experience and talent, it is going to take a very good coaching job by Peterson to get this team to a bowl game. If they do, he should be coach of the year. I can easily see them rolling into Reser Stadium on November 21 with three or less wins. Utah State will not be a gimmie, and Cal is one of my rising teams. Outside of those teams, UW has to beat (road games bold) USC, the ducks, Stanford, Arizona, Utah, and ASU before coming to Reser. That leaves only Utah State and Sacramento State as games I think they should win — and then there’s a whole slew of questions.
Because of the combo of their schedule and losses from last year, I have the Huskies near the bottom of the North this year. And by near, I mean at the bottom.