Well, considering that the Huskies went 0-12 last year, one would only think that their upcoming season could not be any worse. With their new and improved coaching staff, their star QB Jake Locker returning back from an injury last season stronger and more accurate, and their more experienced offensive and defensive players we might see at least five wins from the Huskies, if not more.
The Huskies acquired head coach Steve Sarkisian from USC this season, probably the best move that UW’s Athletic Director made in a long time. He was a QB coach there and actually played QB himself for BYU. He knows the game and what it takes to be successful. Bringing in a bunch of new coaches is very smart because with a new coaching staff, the returning players can forget about last year and focus on this year. It is evident that the Huskies are going to do better with such a talented new staff with different strategies and better coaching experience. Even though Sarkisian does not have any head coaching experience, I am confident that since he has learned a lot from USC’s head coach Pete Carroll that he will get the Purple and Gold back on top of the Pac-10.
The Huskies brought in numerous talented coaches this year other than Sarkisian, some of the more successful ones are explained below:
The Huskies brought in Nick Holt; a defensive coordinator who served three years at USC. The Trojans were the number 2 defense in the nation last year and under Holt they improved from 48th in the nation in total defense to 20th in his first year as defensive coordinator. Holt also mentored Lofa Tatupu in his first term as linebacker coach at USC. Tatupu is now the star middle linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. Holt knows what the NFL is looking for, and what are these coaches trying to do other than teach their players college football and how to win? Get them ready for the NFL. With NFL experience under his belt he will be able to make small linebackers like Tatupu be great in the NFL.
The Huskies also brought in Doug Nussmeier as their offensive coordinator. He was a former quarterback coach for the St. Louis Rams. He mentored Marc Bulger in 2006 where Bulger would go on to the Pro-Bowl having thrown for 4,301 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Nussmeier was a quarterback himself for the Idaho Vandals. He threw for a combined 10,824 passing yards and is one of three quarterbacks in NCAA history to throw for over 10,000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in their career. Imagine the things he is teaching Jake Locker and the other quarterbacks. Bringing in a coach from the NFL will help Locker become more of an NFL type quarterback. Nussmeier knows what it takes to be an NFL quarterback because he was one and has mentored some. He will be able to coach Locker and the other quarterbacks coming to UW into NFL prospective players.
For 2010 the Husky coaching squad were able to get four four-star recruits to commit to Washington, including Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana’s son Nick and a soft verbal from DT Sione Potoae; a prospect for USC as well. These two players could potentially bring great things to Washington in a couple years. This proves that even though the Huskies were 0-12 last year there are still some good prospects that want to play in Washington.
The Huskies made all the right moves to bring some great coaches to better this year, but it is up to how they coach the players that really makes the difference. With Jake Locker returning this year as only a junior Steve Sarkisian hopes to improve his accuracy this year to above 60%. According to an article in the Seattle Times newspaper, Locker did just that. During a scrimmage game in practice he completed 10 out of 16 passes which one miss was a result of a dropped pass. 10 for 16 is a respectable 62.5 completion percentage. Locker was interviewed after the practice and talked about how he was feeling, he said, “I feel like I am throwing a lot better. I am not missing high all the time, and when I’m completing passes, I’m completing them where I am supposed to more of the time.” Locker has had enough time to work out and gain a little more muscle. Locker is coming back stronger than ever and according to his coaches and articles a lot more accurate as well and with a threat at wide receiver in D’Andre Goodwin and an up and coming star in Jermaine Kearse, we might see Locker carry the Huskies back into the spotlight.
D’Andre Goodwin had a great year in 2008 despite his lack of touchdowns. He put up 692 receiving yards (more than Florida Gators Percy Harvin) with two inexperienced quarterbacks Ronnie Fouch and Taylor Bean throwing to him for most of the season. With the threat Jake Locker throwing to him this year, hoping Locker stays healthy; Goodwin could be one of the top 3 receivers in the Pac-10 with numbers in the 800’s for receiving and double-digits for TD’s. Goodwin had to be very quick off the snap because the Huskies line was horrid and provided no protection for Fouch and with his 4.35 40 yard dash he will be a threat to all opponents. Jake Locker however, can easily scramble away from opponents and with his improved accuracy will hopefully get Goodwin some national recognition. Also look for Jermaine Kearse. He was a true freshman last year and put up some pretty good numbers. What comes with more experience? Bigger numbers.
Lastly, our defense is not as bad as people regard it to be. Although fans will see more of a rebuilding on defense, there are a few players that can hold down the fort for the Huskies in hopes for the first win since 2007.
Daniel Te’o-Nesheim earned Pac-10 recognition in the face of the Huskies horrible defense. He earned 2nd team All-Pac 10 last year. He was 6th in the Pac for sacks and 11th in tackles for loss. He is a senior this year so be prepared to see him step up to become a defensive team leader. With Mr. Holt specializing in the defense this year Te’o will put up bigger numbers and I am making a statement by saying that he will be a top 15 defensive player in the nation.
Other notable defensive players are the Huskies whole linebacker crew. With the junior Mason Foster anchoring the above average linebackers he led the Pac in tackles per game and ended the season with a respectable 108 tackles and was 41st in the nation. Also E.J. Savannah is returning as a senior from sitting out his whole junior season due to grades. He recorded 111 tackles as a sophomore. Lastly, Donald Butler is also one to be watched. He was awarded with the most improved defensive player last year for the Huskies and started 11 of 12 games. He recorded 69 tackles and 2 sacks for a total of 27 yards. The linebackers are a defensive threat to all opponents if all are eligible and healthy. Look for Nate Williams at safety put up some good numbers as well. He has taken on a leadership role in the backfield and is helping players be where they need to be.
It is obvious that the Huskies are in a re-building state for this year. That is why I only said that they would win about 5 games. However, they will be better then last year and I personally think though that with the new coaching staff and the incoming recruits, in the next few years we may see the old 2000 Huskies, or even the 1990 Huskies. Only time will tell.
The team that takes the field this September will be new, they will have quote “more swagger.” The defense will be more aggressive meaning that they are going to get a better jump off the ball in order to stop plays earlier and their offense, well, will be led by Jake Locker- the Tim Tebow of the West, only a better athlete ;).