Chris Petersen left an indelible mark on Washington Huskies football, elevating the program to its greatest heights since the Don James era. His surprising exit in December leaves the proverbial big shoes off Montlake, but successor Jimmy Lake is poised to more than adequately fill them.
A hot prospect in the coaching ranks before his promotion, Lake played a key role in Washington's ascent to the top of the Pac-12 as secondary coach, lead recruiter, and defensive coordinator. His first season as head coach will come with some challenges, as the Huskies retool in some important spots on the roster. But thanks to Lake's prior efforts, Washington isn't lacking for talent or defensive aggression.
Washington Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2020
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
It's a new era for Washington, as Jimmy Lake takes over at head coach after Chris Petersen retired following the 2019 season. The Huskies are once again led by a strong defense but enter '20 with question marks on offense. Can new play-caller John Donovan help this group take a step forward after scoring less than 20 points in four Pac-12 contests last fall? There's a four-man competition ongoing under center, and the offense has to identify playmakers at receiver in order to jumpstart the passing attack. Road trips to California and Oregon won't be easy.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Jimmy Lake has some big shoes to fill taking over for Chris Petersen, and while the cupboard in Seattle certainly isn't bare, it's not overflowing right now either. Especially with defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike and linebacker Joe Tryon, both of whom were preseason first-team All-Pac-12 picks, deciding to opt out. There also are plenty of questions on offense, starting with the quarterback position. Lake should still enjoy a fairly successful debut under extremely unique circumstances, but there's enough uncertainty on both sides of the ball for me to put the Huskies comfortably behind Oregon in the Pac-12 North pecking order.
Kyle Kensing (@kensing45)
Right out of the starting blocks, we'll get to see Washington's likelihood of winning a third Pac-12 championship in five seasons. The Huskies open with Cal, a program that's seen its stock rise considerably under former Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Wilcox's Golden Bears have won the last two meetings with the Huskies, both of which were low-scoring slugfests.
A win in Berkeley sets Washington up nicely for a four-game stretch that includes home games against Oregon State, Arizona, and Stanford. In its traditional Thanksgiving weekend slot is the Apple Cup, the Huskies' sole road date during this span. Washington has dominated the series since 2013, and the Cougars are rebuilding some in Nick Rolovich's first season.
Washington could conceivably be 5-0 heading into the regular-season finale at rival Oregon. Arguably the most hostile of the Pac-12's rivalries, this one coming down to the North division would be oh-so fitting.
(Top photo courtesy of @UW_Football)