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You can read the entire Washington preview in Athlon Sports' 2012 PAC-12 magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PRESEASON TOP 25
PAC-12 North PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Steve Sarkisian, 19-19 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Eric Kiesau | DEF. COORDINATOR: Justin Wilcox
If only Washington could come up with as much productivity overnight on defense now as it did at quarterback in 2011. Keith Price, previously an unsung backup to NFL-bound Jake Locker, threw for 3,063 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns as a sophomore. He established himself as one of the nation’s elite. Price was savvy and creative, even after his legs and shoulder took a serious pounding.
At running back, dependable three-year starter Chris Polk departed a year early to the NFL, leaving the Huskies in the market for a new tailback for the first time in the Steve Sarkisian coaching era. Junior Jesse Callier, Polk’s backup for two seasons, will get the first look based on seniority; he’s faster but not nearly as fearsome a runner as his predecessor. Sophomore Bishop Sankey, who better resembles Polk in size and style, will be in the mix, too. Junior college transfer Antavius Sims, a former quarterback, was added to the competition in the spring.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (538 yards) and wide receiver Kasen Williams (427) were sensational as freshmen and should be even better the second time out, providing a solid pass-catching corps. The 6'6", 258-pound Seferian-Jenkins has All-American written all over him.
The Huskies took a huge hit up front in spring practice when junior right guard Colin Porter, a two-year starter and NFL prospect, had to give up football because of degenerative arthritis in both shoulders. The foundation is still in place for a solid unit thanks to the return of three well-entrenched starters: center Drew Schaefer, tackle Erik Kohler and guard Colin Tanigawa.
Will the Huskies challenge Oregon for the Pac-12 North title in 2012?
The Huskies couldn’t stop anyone in 2011. The defensive line was mediocre, especially after its best player, Hau’oli Jamora, went down early with a season-ending knee injury. When healthy again, Jamora will be the defensive centerpiece.
At linebacker, the Huskies had no game-changing players. Two starters return in sophomore John Timu and junior Princeton Fuimaono, but with a new defensive staff shaking things up there’s no guarantee they’ll keep their jobs.
For all the defensive troubles surrounding the Huskies, the secondary is where the rebuilding has begun in earnest. This could turn into a talented crew. Senior cornerback Desmond Trufant and junior strong safety Sean Parker are returning starters and players who have excelled at times. By all accounts, incoming freshman Shaq Thompson, a 5-star recruit, has the ability to step in as the starter at free safety.
Keith Price, QB Set the school record for TD passes in a season with 33, even while hobbled for a good part of the season.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE Earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors and was the Huskies’ most outstanding freshman.
Drew Schaefer, C Dependable starter for 30 games — at center and both tackle spots. He played every offensive snap during the 2011 season.
|Sept. 1st||San Diego St.|
|Sept. 8th||at LSU|
|Sept. 15th||Portland St.|
|Oct. 6th||at Oregon|
|Oct. 20th||at Arizona|
|Oct. 27th||Oregon St.|
|Nov. 2nd||at Cal|
|Nov. 17th||at Colorado|
|Nov. 23rd||at Washington St.|
Flush with capable kickers since Sarkisian took over, the Huskies must now replace everyone. They signed a freshman, Korey Durkee, to handle the punting chores and a junior college player, Travis Coons, to take care of the placekicking.
With three seasons behind him, Sarkisian has brought Washington back to respectability, splitting 38 games. Now people are asking him this: When will the Huskies play fierce defense again and become more than just a break-even team?
Four new defensive coaches, including former Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, have been charged with upgrading a maddeningly porous unit, no easy feat. Widespread staff changes were required following a 67–56 loss to Baylor and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III at the Alamo Bowl. Once more, the Huskies, who have plenty of offensive weapons, will have to outscore their opponents in order to be successful.