#39 Washington Football 2015 Preview

Washington Huskies

Overall Rank: #39
#8 Pac-12

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To many, Coach Chris Petersen’s debut season at Washington was a disappointment. They did manage to win eight games and go to the Cactus Bowl, but the Huskies did not always look too good in the process. Despite those eight wins, only one game was against a team that would play in a bowl game. And that was Illinois. Washington does deserve some credit for winning games they should win, but at some point they need to beat a decent team too.

2014 Record: 8-6, 4-5
2014 Bowl: Cactus Bowl vs. Oklahoma State (L 22-30)
Coach: Chris Petersen (8-6 at Washington, 100-18 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jonathan Smith
Defensive Coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dwayne Washington, RB, 697 yards
Passing: Jeff Lindquist, QB, 162 yards
Receiving: Jaydon Mickens, WR, 617 yards
Tackles: Budda Baker, S, 80
Sacks: Joe Mathis, DL, 2.0
Interceptions: Travis Feeney, LB, 2; Sidney Jones, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Lavon Coleman, TE Joshua Perkins, WR Dante Pettis, P Korey Durkee, K Cameron Van Winkle

Key Losses: QB Cyler Miles, OL Micah Hatchie, OL Colin Tanigawa, LB John Timu, DL Danny Shelton, LB Shaq Thompson, DL Andrew Hudson, LB Hau’oli Kikaha

What was a weakness last season should be a strength this time around. The Washington secondary was extremely young in 2014, but now they are growing up. Safety Budda Baker totaled 80 tackles as a freshman and earned a variety of All-Freshman accolades. This year he will earn plenty of All Pac-12 honors too. Baker will likely team up with strong safety Ezekiel Turner, a junior college transfer. Like Baker, cornerback Sidney Jones was starting as a freshman last season and should only be getting better. Junior Kevin King is back to cover the other side of the field. Last year this defense was built around stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. With six of the front seven gone, including some huge playmakers like Danny Shelton, Andrew Hudson and Shaq Thompson, do not expect similar numbers this year. The Huskies will move to more of a 3-4 scheme this year and attempt to reload around linebacker Travis Feeney. Coach Petersen will have to rely on younger players like freshman Vita Vea, who is being touted as a better Danny Shelton.

Not long ago the offense looked to have potential. But then quarterback Cyler Miles retired from the game and receiver John Ross was lost for the year with an injury. The quarterback competition comes down to Jeff Lindquist, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Jake Browning. Lindquist started the opener against Hawaii last year and was not very impressive, completing just 10-of-26 passes for 162 yards. And if it was not for Ross making things happen, Washington would have lost that game. Carta-Samuels redshirted last season and that gives him a bit of experience in the system at least. Jake Browning did enroll early and has a decent arm and can make plays with his legs. But without Ross making plays, whoever is under center could struggle. Ross spent some time in the secondary, but he was electric with the ball in his hands. The Huskies do return Jaydon Mickens, who was easily the most productive receiver on the team with 60 catches for 617 yards.

The Bottom Line:
The pressure will be on Dwayne Washington and Lavon Coleman to establish a ground game so the offense does not fall flat. They did last year, combining to rush for 1,262 yards and ten touchdowns. But with so many questions with the passing game, they will need to do even better. Overall, there is potential here. Coach Petersen is bringing in his players and the Huskies are starting to fit all of the pieces together. Those pieces are young, but this is a team that has the ability to pull off a surprise or two. Even if they do not, they are good enough to reach six wins.

Projected Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 188.6 (40th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 200.1 (87, 11)
Total Offense: 388.6 (74, 10)
Scoring Offense: 30.2 (54, 9)
Rushing Defense: 124.1 (22, 2)
Pass Defense: 286.6 (120, 10)
Total Defense: 410.6 (78, 6)
Scoring Defense: 24.8 (39, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.86 (9, 3)
Sacks: 3.71 (2, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (56, 3)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#72 Jake Browning


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