#9 Washington Football 2017 Preview


Washington Huskies


Overall Rank: #9

#2 Pac-12

Washington made an impressive run to the College Football Playoff last season, going 12-1 before falling to Alabama in the Peach Bowl. The Huskies are the team to beat in the Pac-12 North, but they have some talent to replace. Coach Chris Petersen really turned things around during his third season with the program, but now he will have to attempt to keep this team relevant on the national stage.
2016 Record: 12-2, 8-1
2016 Bowl: Peach Bowl vs. Alabama (L 7-24)
Coach: Chris Petersen (27-14 at Washington, 119-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jonathan Smith
Defensive Coordinator: Pete Kwaitkowski
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Myles Gaskin, RB, 1,373 yards
Passing: Jake Browning, QB, 3,430 yards
Receiving: Dante Pettis, WR, 822 yards
Tackles: Keishawn Bierria, LB, 70
Sacks: Vita Vea, DT, 5.0
Interceptions: Taylor Rapp, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB Lavon Coleman, WR Chico McClatcher, OL Trey Adams, OL Coleman Shelton, S JoJo McIntosh, LB Azeem Victor, DT Greg Gaines
Key Losses: WR John Ross, OL Jake Eldrenkamp, DL Elijah Qualls, S Budda Baker, CB Sidney Jones, CB Kevin King
The offense should again be one of the highest scoring in the country. Jake Browning led the way with 3,430 yards and 43 passing touchdowns. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting as a sophomore and will have another crack at it in 2017. There are a few questions at wide receiver though behind Dante Pettis, who caught 53 passes for 822 yards and 15 touchdowns. Somebody needs to step up and provide a second option to replace John Ross. The Huskies could spend a little more time on the ground this season with the inexperience at wide receiver and the talent at running back. Myles Gaskin returns after rushing for 1,373 yards and ten touchdowns last season. Backup Lavon Coleman also returns after adding 852 yards and seven scores. Behind an offensive line that is big and talented, Gaskin and Coleman will be very successful again in 2017.
The front seven is now the strength of the Washington defense. Last year the Huskies ranked first in the Pac-12 in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense, while finishing second in rush defense and sacks. Tackles Greg Gaines and Vita Vea will stuff the run and anchor a strong three man front. Azeem Victor missed some time after breaking his leg, but he still managed to rank third on the team with 67 tackles. Keishawn Bierria recorded 70 tackles and will again start beside Victor. The biggest questions are in the secondary where Budda Baker, Sidney Jones and Kevin King need to be replaced. Sophomore safety Taylor Rapp is a star in the making and JoJo McIntosh was a regular starter too. Finding two new cornerbacks who can keep Washington’s defense effective in the pass happy Pac-12 will be the key for Washington’s defense in 2017.
The Bottom Line:
The Huskies will almost have to take a step back this season, but they should not fall too far. The non-conference slate is easy enough and there is no USC, the only Pac-12 team to beat UW last year, on the schedule. Trips to Colorado, Oregon State and Arizona State will not be easy, but Washington could very easily start out the season 7-0 with four of their last five games at home. However, that road game is against Stanford on November 10th and that Friday night game could decide the Pac-12 North champion.
Projected Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 198.1 (44th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 258.8 (41, 7)
Total Offense: 456.9 (32, 5)
Scoring Offense: 41.8 (8, 1)
Rushing Defense: 133.9 (28, 2)
Pass Defense: 182.9 (15, 1)
Total Defense: 316.9 (12, 1)
Scoring Defense: 17.7 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.29 (1, 1)
Sacks: 2.86 (19, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.86 (49, 3)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#39 Vita Vea
#40 Trey Adams
#54 Azeem Victor      
#65 Jake Browning
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#157    Hunter Bryant
#180    Salvon Ahmed
#187    Keith Taylor
#199    Henry Bainivalu
#213    Terrell Bynum
#241    Elijah Molden