#7 Washington 2018 Football Preview

Washington Huskies
Overall Rank: #7
#1 Pac-12
 Washington Logo
The expectations are getting higher and higher at Washington. Following a 12-2 season in 2016 and a 10-3 mark in 2017, Coach Chris Petersen has turned the Huskies into a consistent contender. This group may not just compete for a Pac-12 title, but they could be in the mix for a spot in the College Football Playoffs.
2017 Record: 10-3, 7-2
2017 Bowl: Fiesta Bowl vs. Penn State (L 28-35)
Coach: Chris Petersen (37-17 at Washington, 129-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bush Hamdan
Defensive Coordinator: Jimmy Lake, Pete Kwiatkowski
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Miles Gaskin, RB, 1,380 yards
Passing: Jake Browning, QB, 2,719 yards
Receiving: Hunter Bryant, TE, 331 yards
Tackles: Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, 84
Sacks: Ryan Bowman, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: Byron Murphy, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Salvon Ahmed, WR Aaron Fuller, OL Kaleb McGary, OL Nick Harris, S Taylor Rapp. LB Myles Bryant, DT Greg Gaines, LB Tevis Bartlett, CB Jordan Miller
Key Losses: RB Lavon Coleman, WR Dante Pettis, TE Will Dissly, OL Coleman Shelton, DT Vita Vea, LB Keishawn Bierria, S Ezekiel Turner
Quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin have been staples of this offense since they were freshman and both will take this team far as seniors. Browning threw for 2,719 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, while completing 68.5 percent of his passes with just five interceptions. Those are some impressive numbers. Gaskin was just as impressive at running back. He rushed for 1,380 yards and 21 scores, while adding another 232 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game. Two years ago Browning threw for 43 touchdowns, but injuries to some receivers saw that number slip dramatically last year. And now top receiver Dante Pettis is gone. UW will need players like Chico McClatcher or Marquis Spiker to provide consistent deep threats in order to boost the passing game. With a superb offensive line, this offense should be able to get closer to their 2016 numbers as long as everybody can stay healthy.
Losing defensive tackle Vita Vea, the reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year, is a problem. However, with nine starters back, this should again be one of the best defenses in the country. Greg Gaines is more than ready to pick up the slack in the middle of the line and Ryan Bowman is a consistent pass rushing threat. At linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven and Tevis Bartlett are steady tacklers, but the unit lacks a playmaker. The secondary is absolutely loaded. Taylor Rapp and JoJo Mcintosh are experienced safeties. Byron Murphy is emerging as a star at cornerback and Jordan Miller, Austin Joyner and Myles Bryant are all talented players who can make some big plays.
The Bottom Line:
The defense is loaded and the offense is experienced and has proven to be prolific. That is a recipe for success. The Huskies will be tested early though with an opening game versus Auburn. With a win there, the Huskies will start to garner even more playoff hopes. And with no USC on the regular season schedule, the Huskies biggest test should come on November 3rd at home against Stanford.
Projected Bowl: Rose Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.2 (44th in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 222.2 (72, 8)
Total Offense: 405.5 (58, 9)
Scoring Offense: 36.2 (17, 2)
Rushing Defense: 100.8 (4, 1)
Pass Defense: 197.2 (32, 3)
Total Defense: 298.0 (8, 1)
Scoring Defense: 16.1 (5, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (5, 2)
Sacks: 2.92 (17, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.54 (33, 4)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#23    Trey Afams
#60    Myles Gaskin
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#61      Marquis Spiker
#72      Jacob Sirmon  
#99      Colson Yankoff
#119    Tuli Letuligasenoa
#130    Brandon Kahoall
#156    Julius Irvin
#183    Austin Osborne
#230    Kyler Gordon