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The Washington Huskies: Three Keys to Success

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 6:  Jake Locker #10 of the Washington Huskies passes the ball during their game against the BYU Cougars on September 6, 2008 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. The Cougars defeated the Huskies 28-27. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
David HedlindAnalyst IIApril 26, 2009

This is the first in a 10 part series about what I see as three points that will contribute to the success or needs to be fixed for the success of each PAC-10 team. I am posting in order, 10-1 from the 2008 season. 

Obviously there are going to be more than three things, but these things stood out to me. 

 

A Healthy Jake Locker

When it comes to the Washington Huskies, winning starts with quarterback Jake Locker. Unfortunately, he got hurt in 2008 and did not play in eight games. I firmly believe that had he played Washington would have won a game or two as opposed to going 0-12.

Locker is now healthy and ready to go. The pro-style offense may suit him better with his cannon of an arm. With Sarkisian helping him along, his accuracy, arguably his biggest problem area, should improve greatly.

I expect that he will drop back in the pocket a lot more in 2009 but I don’t expect that he will abandon the run. Until proven otherwise, Locker is the best runner on the team. I mean, coming out of the 2007 and in to 2008, he was the Pac-10 leading returning rusher.

He is a proven leader that the rest of the team feeds on. When Locker played up, the Huskies played up. When Locker went out, you could see a difference in the team.

The Huskies need Locker to stay healthy.

 

New Coaching Staff

Familiarity can be a key factor in beating teams in conference. The Huskies have an advantage with a new staff because nobody has seen their system yet. Opposing teams wont know what kind of tendencies the new staff will have. They wont have a reputation as conservative or risk takers.

Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll will have some familiarity but he knew now head coach Steve Sarkisian as an assistant.

Sarkisian is changing things up with new ideas like themed practices such as No Turnover Wednesday.

Another thing that is going on is a history lesson. The team room has been decorated in pictures of former Husky players including Warren Moon and Lawyer Milloy among others.

People look at the now of Husky football and forget that there is a rich history there. Teaching the players the history of the program will hopefully inspire them to play with more pride every time they step out in their Husky uniform.

 

EJ Savannah

He didn’t want to leave but due to academic and other issues he announced his transfer in September of 2008. He did not play with the Huskies in 2008.

When new head coach Steve Sarkisian came in he said everyone would have a clean slate. Apparently he meant it and extended it beyond the team he first met.

Savannah returns for the 2009 season to bolster a defensive unit that was severely lacking in 2008.

The Husky defense was the worst it has ever been in defensive categories of points allowed and yards allowed.

He could be the spark the defense needs.

Linebacker E.J. Savannah had 111 tackles in the 2007 season which ranked him sixth in the Pac-10. He was named the team's defensive player of the year. Then he left.

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