A new sense of optimism and excitement was reborn with the Dawgs last year and there is plenty more to come in the year ahead. Here are my top 10 reasons for why 2010 is going to be a great year for the Huskies.
1. Jake Locker
Jake is the heart and soul of this team and will garner national attention in his race for the Heisman. Jake is one of the most gifted athletes that has ever played for the Dawgs and the Huskies will win as long as he his under center. He is the key to the season and the direction of the program.
2. Offensive skill players
For the first time in a number of years, the Huskies have a huge supply of returning talent in the skill positions on offense. From Jermane Kearse and Chris Polk to No. 10, the Huskies can match up against any defense in the PAC-10. The UW has the best group of offensive skill players in the league and maybe the entire nation.
3. Offensive line
The offensive line is the foundation of the offense and they have as much talent coming back as any other team in the conference. With Tolar, Schaefer, Kelemete and Christine, Jake should enjoy plenty of time in the pocket this year.
4. Year two under Sark's control
What a difference a year makes! Last year this team was beaten down, but after a year under Sark, they had a renewed confidence and swagger that showed up on Saturdays. This team not only knows that they can win, but they expect to win every time they take the field. It's fun to think what year two has in store.
5. Returning LB's
Mason Foster, Cort Dennison and the combination of Alvin Logan and Victor Aieywa make up the new and improved LB cast. The loss of EJ Savannah is overrated, and he slowed down his last year here and was out played by Dennision. Mason Foster is an All PAC-10 playmaker and the Logan/Aieywa tandem will provide speed and athleticism to the group.
6. Excitement around the program
The buzz is alive and once again, Husky fans are dreaming of winning the Rose Bowl and beating the Ducks. This team is focused on winning and is exciting to watch, which has renewed the interest in the program and brought fans back to the games. Additionally, a Heisman race for Jake doesn't hurt the buzz at all.
7. USC and Oregon's misfortune
You won't see any tears shed for either of these teams by Husky fans, because they have been through the same problems.
USC will be down for a few years, which opens the door to SoCal, a hotbed of talent which could become even more of a pipeline to the Huskies. If Oregon falls, Washington could once again regain dominance in the Northwest and control the region with an iron fist.
8. Incoming freshman
Deontae Cooper and Jessie Callier are the top recruits and excelled during spring practice, which could translate into playing time this fall.
These two head a class that ranked in the middle of the top 25 classes in the nation. A true football fan will tell you that it all begins and ends with the lines on offense and defense, and this class delivered. With seven offensive lineman and three to four defensive lineman, the foundation is set for years to come.
9. Going Bowling!
Barring a setback with key injuries, this team should be playing in a bowl come the holiday season. The UW saw an increase of five victories during the 2009 season and they should make another step this year into a mid-level bowl.
This would not have the same excited Husky fans of the past, but the last few years have made fans thankful for everything that comes our way. This season should serve as a stepping stone for a major bowl in 2011 or 2012.
10. A packed Husky Stadium once again intimidating opponents
Husky stadium has a natural energy about it when the place is packed to the brim. In addition, it is the best home field in the PAC-10 and possibly the nation.
When the energy is flowing, it makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck and intimidates opponents to a great degree. The buzz and optimism around the program will help ensure that Huskies stadium is once again electric.