It has been a tough first two games of the 2008 football season for the Washington Huskies. Between being blown out at perhaps their biggest rivals, and losing a nail-biter that was affected by a questionable call at the end of the game, the Huskies have to be frustrated. Obviously, through these last weeks Jake Locker has been at the center of almost all media and fan attention. But there is another factor that has had a major impact on Washington: their team, overall, is very young.
Many of their players have played in their first college games these last two weeks. Some of them have had a huge impact, be it negatively or positively. One true freshman, Kavario Middleton, has been the Huskies starting tight end, and had four receptions for 30 yards against BYU, and very nearly caught the tying touchdown for the Huskies on their final drive. Jordan Polk, another freshman, is returning kicks, and had four kickoff returns for 83 yards on Saturday. Jermaine Kearse caught a 48 yard touchdown pass from Locker in the second quarter, positioning himself perfecly between the BYU defender and the ball. Freshmen Chris Polk and David Freeman have handled the vast majority of the running back duties for the Huskies, and there are many more young men getting playing time for Washington that are true or red-shirt freshmen, or sophomores.
But it has not all been good for these young players. The skill position players on offense, almost all of which are freshmen and sophomores, have already had the same trouble catching passes that the senior-laden receiving corps had last year for the Huskies. Jake Locker has not been the most consistent passer, but many of his "incompletions" are due his well-placed passes being dropped, or the recievers cutting off their routes too early. Also, starting tailback Chris Polk, perhaps the Huskies' most highly-regarded recruit this past year, has had trouble carrying the ball (14 yards on six carries against BYU, and 19 yards on 14 carries against Oregon). Part of this can be blamed on questionable blocking from Washingtons' highly-regarded offensive line, but he also appears to be uncomfortable with the ball in his hands, which a running back cannot do and be successful.
It is obvious that Washington's young team is extremely talented, and have huge amounts of potential. They have already shown flashes of brilliance, but have also made many costly mistakes. If they can cut down on their mental mistakes, they have the potential to help lead the Huskies to a successful season; but if they don't grow up quickly, Washington fans will continue to be dissapointed this season. It will be very interesting to see how this group develops over the next weeks, months, and years, as they hold the future of Husky football in their hands.