The 2009 Washington Huskies can't do any worse then the 0-12 2008 version. That is a mighty hole to dig out of, but as any true diehard Husky fan knows, you have to look at the glass half-full these days.
It is the dawn of the Steve Sarkisian era and his USCification of Husky football is breathing life into a program that was downtrodden at the hands of Tyrone Willingham. Here are 10 reasons that Husky fans have reason to be optimistic about the 2009 season.
1. Tyrone Willingham Is No Longer the Coach; The Sark Era Begins
No longer will we have to endure second-half collapses, poorly coached teams, and a total disregard for the program by the leadership. Ty will be unemployed for a while after being fired from two BCS schools in five years.
Meanwhile, Sarkisian brings a winning tradition and work ethic from USC to Washingtion. Sarkisian brings an enthusiasm and passion that is contagious and will rub off on the players and no doubt will pay dividends between the lines.
2. Returning Experience
Many of the true freshmen were thrust into action last year and even though they did not win games they did gain valuable experience that will be invaluable in the rebuilding year that is 2009. Players like Alameda Ta'mu, Everette Thompson, Jermaine Kearse, and Cody Bruns showed great growth toward the end of the season and will continue to grow.
3. The Heart of the Defense Returns
For years the relative strength of the defense has been the linebackers. With the return of E.J. Savannah and the sixth year with Trenton Tuiasasopo will make that corps even stronger.
Savannah is a player who plays the game like a wrecking ball and is always around the ball making plays and will, no doubt, make an immediate impact. Tuiasasopo is a smart veteran player that makes all the plays he is supposed to make and makes the big hit when needed.
4. Open Practices
The fact that practices will be open may be a small detail but it is a detail that Willingham neglected and it cost him in the end. Fans and boosters alike need to feel that they are part of the program and in a time when donations are at a premium open practices are a must.
Players also need to feel the daily pressure of eyes on them everyday in practice. This extra scrutiny will make them practice harder and faster then they would behind closed doors. Overall, opening practices means more accountability will be placed on the team.
5. Jake Locker
As we have watched for the last two years, Jake gives the team a chance to win every time he takes the field with this team. Under Sarkisian's wing, Locker should finally take the next step in becoming a more complete signal caller. With Sarkisian, the sky is the limit for Jake.
With Idaho on the schedule in the second week, reaching more wins in 2009 then in 2008 will not take long.
7. Willingham's Last Recruiting Class
Willingham may have been detrimental to the program in many ways but he leaves the cupboard full of young talent Sarkisian has to work with to turn the ship around. Sark will have players to build a program around like Bruns, Chris Polk, Thompson, Mason Foster, Nate Williams, and Johri Fogerson, and Craig Noble.
8. Husky Buzz
For the first time since 2000 there is a buzz about the UW program. The buzz was ignited by Sarkisian and carried by the fans. The fan base of this program is big and lying in wait, waiting for a spark, and a spark they have received.
During the worst season a Pac-10 team has ever been through, the Huskies regularly drew over 45,000 to the games, and that was for a lame-duck Willingham. Just imagine what it will look like under Sarkisian.
9. Turmoil Among the Rivals
With the announced coaching changes occurring at Oregon, uncertainty at WSU, and the top coordinators at USC now at Washington, it may open the door for the UW to steal some key victories in the near future.
10. There Is Only One Way To Go from Here
"It is always darkest just before the dawn..." Never in the history of UW football has this quote rung more true. Zero wins is the least one team can get in a season and that will not be the case under Sarkisian.