Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pre-Season Preview: Washington Huskies

2009 Record: 5-7 (4-5 in Pac-10)
2009 Bowl: N/A
Final 2009 AP Ranking: Not Ranked
Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian (5-7 at Washington)
Non-Conference Schedule: at BYU (9/4), Syracuse (9/11), Nebraska (9/18)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 26.1 points per game (7th in Pac-10)
Rushing Yards/Game: 139 (7th in Pac-10)
Passing Yards/Game: 236 (2nd in Pac-10)
Total Yards/Game: 375 (7th in Pac-10) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 26.7 points per game (9th in Pac-10)
Rushing Yards/Game: 148 (9th in Pac-10)
Passing Yards/Game: 240 (7th in Pac-10)
Total Yards/Game: 389 (8th in Pac-10)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: +0.33 per game (3rd in Pac-10)
Penalties: 59 yards per game (6th in Pac-10)

Returning Starters
Offense: 9
Defense: 7
Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Jake Locker, Sr (230 of 395 for 2800 yds, 21 TD, 11 INT, 233 ypg, 388 yards rushing, 7 rushing TD)
Rushing: RB Chris Polk, Soph (226 carries for 1113 yds, 5 TD, 4.9 ypc, 92 ypg)
Receiving: WR Jermaine Kearse, Jr (50 rec, 866 yds, 8 TD, 4.2 rec/game)
Receiving: WR Devin Aguilar, Jr (42 rec, 593 yds, 5 TD, 4.2 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Mason Foster, Jr (85)
Sacks: DT Alameda Ta'amu, Jr (2.5)
Interceptions: LB Mason Foster, Sr (3)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Lindy's: Not Ranked
Mark Schlabach: Not Ranked
Rivals: Not Ranked
Scout: Not Ranked
Sporting News: #25
Sports Illustrated: Not Ranked
Athlon Sports: #40

2010 Pre-Season Pac-10 Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #6

Bowl Prediction:
Athlon Sports: Humanitarian Bowl (vs. Ohio)

In 2008 Washington hit the lowest of lows by posting a 0-12 record and getting drubbed by USC 56-0. First year coach Steve Sarkisian led the Huskies to a 5 game turnaround including a win over USC. This is Jake Locker's final year at Washington before he turns over the reigns to a new QB (possibly Nick Montana). Can the Huskies make enough improvement this year to garner a bowl bid? Anthony from the UW Dawg Pound gives us his take on the 2010 Washington Huskies.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The team's biggest strength is on the offensive side of the ball. Every skill player is back, most notably quarterback Jake Locker who many said could have been a first round pick if he had left after last season. He had a great year last year, and most feel that he'll take another big step forward in year two under Steve Sarkisian. Joining Locker in the backfield is Chris Polk, who last season set the UW's freshman record for rushing yardage, so the Husky offense should be pretty balanced.

The team's weakness lies in the play of the lines on both sides of the ball, but I'd say the D line is a bigger question mark. The team will be trying to replace DE Daniel Teo-Nesheim, a 3rd round pick who graduated as the program's all time leader in sacks, and even with him the line struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks with any sort of consistency. Add in the arrest and suspension of Andru Pulu (who was expected to compete for a starting spot) and the defensive line, particularly DE, is the team's biggest worry.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

Opening on the road is never easy, and this season UW has to go to Provo to take on a pretty good BYU team on the first weekend. It's going to be a game with a lot of storylines: BYU true freshman Jake Heaps could potentially start at QB, he's from the Seattle area and was heavily recruited by the Huskies, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian will be making a homecoming to BYU where he played for two seasons, and Jake Locker will be looking for revenge after losing two years ago to BYU 21-20 when an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was thrown on him for tossing the ball behind his head after scoring a touchdown. Should be an exciting game that sets the tone for the season.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

I'm tempted to say Nebraska, but since they have to come to Husky stadium, I'd say Oregon worries me more. For the better part of a decade they've been giving the Huskies fits with their spread offense; the Dawgs just haven't had the personnel on defense to keep up with it, and I'm not confident this season will be much different. Add in the trip to Eugene to play in Autzen Stadium, and that right now looks like the toughest game on the schedule.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

Desmond Trufant. He's the younger brother of Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant, and he'll be a true sophomore this year. Last season he missed some of fall camp due to an NCAA Clearinghouse issue (if I remember correctly, they didn't count a sign language class he took in high school) which set him back a bit, but by mid-season he was starting and was arguably the secondary's best player. He made a ton of plays all over the field last season. Despite his youth, he may be among the Pac-10's best corners this season, and who knows, with continued development he could end up being a first round pick just like his big brother.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Jake Locker, and nobody else is close. If you've seen him play, you know what a freak athlete he is. Some called him the Tim Tebow of the west coast, which might be somewhat of an insult to Jake. He's that good. As a freshman he set the conference record for rushing yards from the quarterback position, and he's rumored to have 4.4 speed. I'm always skeptical when people say things like that, but one thing is clear regardless of stopwatch times: when Locker takes off running, he makes defenders look like they're running in quicksand. The coaching staff was learning how best to use Locker's talents, but figured it out at the end of the year, closing the season with victories over Cal and Washington State by a combined 72-10, where Locker threw for 444 yards and 4 touchdowns while rushing for 171 yards and another 3 touchdowns. He's among the most dangerous players in all of college football.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

Maybe Mason Foster. He had a big season last year at linebacker, and will be counted on to be a leader this year.

What player(s) needs to step up this year in order for the team to reach it's full capability?

The offensive line collectively. Poor line play cost this team a couple games last year. People may remember the Notre Dame game, where the Huskies had something like 11 plays from the 1 yard line and couldn't get enough push to score touchdowns. The coaching staff has been experimenting moving players around on the line to try and find the right formula, and if they can do that this offense can be really good. The rest of the pieces are there.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

This is going to have to be split between two players: Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier. They're going to be true freshmen this year, and have had nothing but rave reviews since they stepped on campus (both enrolled early for spring ball). They were the number 1 and number 2 running backs in California in terms of yardage their senior year of high school and the coaching staff really feels like they stole a couple gems away from the likes of USC and UCLA. With Chris Polk having surgery and sitting out this spring, they split the lions share of the carries and showed that they're going to be ready to step in as backup RBs from the first game.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

A kid by the name of Will Shamburger took a lot of people by surprise in spring ball and worked his way into contention for a starting safety spot. He kind of came out of nowhere after sitting out last year with an injury, but will likely end up seeing a ton of playing time this year as a redshirt freshman.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

The season will be successful if the team reaches a bowl game. Fewer than six wins will not be well received. The schedule is really tough this year, with most of the hardest games coming on the road, and since the Pac-10 plays an unbalanced schedule, this is the year that the Huskies have to play 5 conference road games. The Huskies have to travel to BYU, USC, Arizona, Oregon, and Cal, then finish up by going to Pullman to play Washington State in December for a rivalry game. Not fun. But there's enough talent on the roster that every game is winnable, and I think that when the regular season is said and done Washington is a 7-5 team, getting ready for a bowl game

Thanks again to the SB Nation website UW Dawg Pound. Visit them for all of your sports information on the Washington Huskies.

Next Up: Oregon Ducks

2010 Previews
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten- Michigan WolverinesMinnesota Golden Gophers, Northwestern Wildcats, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA- Houston Cougars
MAC- Temple Owls
Mountain West- Utah Utes
Pac-10- USC Trojans
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans


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