Championship? Yes that’s right the Washington Huskies have a good chance to make it to the National Championship this year. People reading this think I am crazy no doubt. However This team has what it takes to get there, their talented, there a family, and they trust the coaching staff.
2009 marked a new era for Washington football. The new coaching staff led by new head coach Steve Sarkisian, were trying to bring a new confidence to a team that had not won a game in well over a year. The season started out well with an upset over the 3rd ranked USC Trojans, and a come from behind victory against Arizona, but the young huskies let several games slip away from them, and slipped to a 5-7 record, at the end of the season despite winning there last two games.
The reason for this turn around was because of a very young, and flashy offense, and a defense that played with a "bend but don’t break" style, as they held opposing teams to mostly field goals in the red-zone, instead of allowing touchdowns.
The offense will look to be one of the nations elite, with 10 of 11 starters returning, the only starter not returning is a Lineman. The offense gets a huge boost with the return of Jake Locker. The do it all senior Quarterback who passed up a chance to possibly be the first overall pick, brings elite speed at the Quarterback position and a cannon of a arm. Locker threw for 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, he also completed 58.2 percent of his passes. Locker's accuracy improved late in the season, as he completed over 80 percent of his passes against California. However Locker will need to be able to play at a consistent level every week, if Washington wants to have a chance. Locker's favorite target is Jermaine Kearse, the soon to be junior. Kearse is a big receiver at 6'2, 200 pounds, and is able to make long strides and out jump opposing corners for the ball. Kearse finished the season with 50 receptions, 866 yards, and 8 touchdowns. Kearse really came up big toward the end of the season as he caught 6 touchdowns in the last 4 games, and catching at least a touchdown in each one of them. Devin Aquilar also came up huge last season for the huskies and had 593 yards, despite missing two games due to injury. The huskies also will return James Johnson the freshman last year, who took off at the start of last season but seemed to hit a wall at the end of the season. Chris Polk the record breaking freshman last year who became the first running back in school history to run for over 1000 yards in a freshman season. Polk has great size at 5'11, and 215 pounds, he also shows amazing power and most of his yards come from breaking multiple tackles. Polk ran for 1,113 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 4.9 rushing average, Polk managed to run for over 100 yards in five strait games, and only had three games where his average dropped below 4.0. The line however will need to get better, as they played at a poor level last year as they gave up 28 sacks in 12 games, that’s not good considering Locker avoided at least 10 sacks with his athletic ability.
The defense must improve, and will be tough with the loss of the teams two best defensive players from last year not coming back. The strength of the defense is the Linebackers and Defensive backs. Mason Foster and Court Dennison lead the Linebacking core, and Nate Williams leads the Defensive backs from his safety position. True Freshman Cornerback Desmond Trufant made huge strides, he intercepted three passes, and scored a touchdown on a fumble return. The Defense will have a hard time putting pressure on the Quarterback, due to lack of depth at Defensive end.
Washington will have a tough game early against Nebraska at home, and if they win manage to win that, they have a good chance to make a run. The Pac-10's two best teams last year were Oregon, and Oregon state. Both teams have lost there All-pac-10 Quarterbacks. USC also lost head coach Pete Carroll, and Matt Barkley is still unproven. California lost Jahvid Best to the draft, and UCLA, and Arizona State do not have a proven Quarterback to lead them yet. Stanford is lead by Andrew Luck the talented single caller, but he no longer has the privilege of having Toby Gerhart to give the ball too. Washington State is getting better with Jeff Tuel, and a decent defense but it still lacks speed, and playmakers to make a run at anything. Washington will only get better as it returns every coaching staff player and return 19-22 of its starters, not including the return of there clutch kicker. Washington is ready to make some noise in the Pac-10!