Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Washington Huskies football 2012 season preview
The Washington Huskies enter the 2012 season under fourth year head coach Steve Sarkisian looking to take the next step as a program. The Huskies are coming off another bowl season which saw the team go 7-6 while bringing in yet another ranked recruiting class. Unlike previous years this Huskies team made some coaching changes particularly on the defensive side. This team also lost quite a bit of talent from last year in Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, Alameda Ta'amu and Senio Kelemete. The Huskies also two-year starter offensive lineman Colin Porter due to injury. Don't let that fool you though as this team returns plenty of talent headlined by quarterback Keith Price. Sarkisian who is also in his fourth season has stock piled the talent so the Huskies will be replacing those talented players with new talented players.
He was at his best in the 67-56 Alamo Bowl loss to Baylor. Going up against heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III it was Price who stood out that day despite the loss. Price was 23-37(62.2%) passing for 438 yards(11.8 YPA) with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 39 yards with three touchdowns. Price was banged up most of the year and was only healthy in the bowl game. Look for him to be more active this year in the running game. Price set the single season record for completion percentage, TD to INT ratio, touchdowns passing in a season and total touchdowns in a game has a chance to start setting career records. He was also second in passing yards for a single season behind only Cody Pickett who threw for over 4,000 yards as a junior in 2002. He threw two touchdown passes in 2010 which gives him 35 for his career while the school record is 53 set by Jake Locker and Cody Pickett which Price should be able to shatter when it is all said and done. The school passing yards record is 9,916 set by Cody Pickett while Price has two more years left he is sitting at 3,227 yards which isn't that far fetched that he could pass up Pickett. At the very least Price when all said and done will be all-time in passing touchdowns while being top two in passing yards.
Backing up Price will be redshirt freshman Derrick Brown, true freshmen and four star recruits in Jeff Lindquist and Cyler Miles. The Huskies are also bringing in another four star recruit at quarterback next season in Troy Williams. The quarterback position appears bright for a long time under the former quarterback himself Steve Sarkisian. Price who was only a three star recruit himself last year went from possible weakness to now he is the smiling face of the program for the next two years. Don't be surprised if Price starts getting some Heisman talk this year and will receive some going into his senior year of 2013.
Callier is a junior now who has spelled Polk the last two years. Callier came in as a three star recruit in the 2010 class and produced right off the bat as a freshman. Callier as a freshman had 413 yards rushing (5.4 YPC) with 18 catches with 98 yards (5.4 YPC). Callier ran for a career high 107 yards against UCLA in a 24-7 win on a special ESPN thursday night game.
Callier also started off the Holiday Bowl upset with a 16 yard pass to Jake Locker. Callier also had 733 kickoff return yards. As a sophomore Callier battled injuries and thus his production fell off. Callier had just 260 yards rushing (5.5 YPC) with a touchdown. He had seven receptions for 65 yards and had 576 kickoff return yards.
Callier I believe doesn’t have the build to be an everydown back but he is versatile, as he has proven his first two years at Washington.
While Bishop Sankey is a four star running back and 17th rated back in the 2011 class. Sankey committed early to the Washington State Cougars but decided he wanted to play in some bowl games and went to Washington. In his first season with the Huskies Sankey ran for 187 yards (6.7 YPC) with a touchdown.
He also added six receptions and 134 yards in kickoff yards. Sankey runs like a young Polk and I think Sankey will eventually be the starter but at first him and Callier will split carries.
I think the Huskies with the combination of Sankey and Callier will be just fine this year at running back. I also look for Sarkisian to use talented true freshman Jaydon Mickens who is a wide receiver on fly sweeps as Mickens ran for 13 touchdowns last season in high school. I also think Sarkisian will use 5 star safety Shaq Thompson for some carries as Thompson was also an excellent running back in high school. Thompson as a senior ran for 1,134 yards with 15 touchdowns on only 120 carries. As a junior he ran for 1,882 yards with 25 touchdowns on 164 carries. I think the Huskies running game will be more than fine and look for Sankey to emerge like Price did last year in replacing Locker.
I think this unit is actually in great hands led by sophomore wide receiver Kasen Williams. Williams was a five star recruit, parade magazine player of the year and #2 receiver in the nation coming out of high school. He didn't disappoint either last year catching 36 passes for 427 yards(11.9 YPC) with six touchdowns which put him in a three-way tie for second place. Williams who is entering his true sophomore season is poised for a breakout season with Aguilar and Kearse graduated plus the injuries to Johnson and Smith. The Huskies are in good hands with Williams who showed flashes of what could be especially against both rivals. In a 34-17 loss to the Oregon Ducks, Williams caught a career high six passes for a career high 79 yards with a touchdown. In the 38-21 win over the Washington State Cougars, Williams was a star with his famous leap over the Cougar defender. He also had five receptions for 74 yards with a career high two touchdowns. He caught a touchdown in the first ever game he played in when the Huskies defeated Eastern Washington 30-27. Look for Williams to have a monster season.
Williams isn't the only talented Huskies wide receiver. James Johnson will come back eventually and when he does look out. As a freshman Johnson caught 39 passes for 422 yards(10.8 YPC) with three touchdowns including a touchdown on his very first catch in his first game against #11 LSU Tigers. As a sophomore he struggled catching only one pass for three yards. Then as a Junior he emerged again catching 28 passes for 366 yards(13.1 YPC) with four touchdowns. His breakout game was at Nebraska where he caught six passes for 108 yards with two touchdowns. Johnson will be going into his senior year and will bring much needed experience to an inexperienced group.
Another wide out looking to have a big year is junior Kevin Smith the former four-star recruit. Smith as a true freshman had just one catch for 18 yards as he was mainly used for kickoffs. Last year he was terrific on kickoffs again and added to the offense. He caught 15 passes for 208 yards(13.9 YPC) including a 53 yarder at USC. He also rushed for 71 yards with a touchdown vs Colorado. Senior Cody Bruns is returning after redshirting last season as he is also a former four-star recruit. Bruns in 2010 had seven receptions for 102 yards including a 43 yarder at Arizona. He also had a career high three receptions in the opening game at BYU. Junior DiAndre Campbell is there as well and last year he had two receptions for eight yards.
The Huskies are also bringing in talented receivers including four-star recruit Jaydon Mickens, three-star recruits Dwayne Washington, and Kendyl Taylor(who is starting this Saturday due to injuries). Plus the Huskies redshirted three-star recruits Jamaal Jones, Josh Perkins and Marvin Hall who will all be redshirt freshman this year. So the Huskies receiving position looks to be in good shape. They also signed the two best receivers on the west coast in Demorea Stringfellow and Darrell Daniels.
This position may have lost some talent but there is plenty of talent left on this roster. If not already I look for Kasen Williams to be a household name by the end of the season. Price loves to spread the ball around too so there will be games where Johnson, Smith, Mickens and Bruns will have their opportunity to shine for the Huskies.
Last year the Huskies were returning zero tight ends from their roster. Now this position has three guys they like quite a bit headlined by future NFL tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins who also played basketball came in with plenty of hype. He was a five-star recruit and the #2 tight end in the nation. He like Kasen Willliams didn't disappoint as he was all pac-12 honorable mention for tight end. Seferian-Jenkins this past season caught 41 passes for 544 yards(13.3 YPC) with six touchdowns. Did I mention that he was only a true freshman last year?
Seferian-Jenkins last year in his second career game made a name for himself with three receptions for 91 yards with a touchdown against Hawaii. Twice he caught multiple touchdowns in a game and in the bowl game snatched five passes for 59 yards. Seferian-Jenkins is 6'6" 266 lbs and is athletic enough to be in the rotation on a Pac-12 championship team in basketball. Last season as only a freshman Seferian-Jenkins caught the 4th most passes by a tight end in Huskies history and with the career record being 95 receptions there is an outside chance he could break that record this year. If not he will surely break it as a junior as he is going to re-write the record books. His season also ranked 3rd all-time in school history for a tight end in receiving yards while ranking 2nd in a season for touchdowns. In fact Seferian-Jenkins already ranks 4th all-time in career touchdowns and with the record being at 10 good chance he breaks that this year. Seferian-Jenkins will probably be named first-team all conference this year and gives the Huskies a mismatch every week as they can line him up on the outside or in the slot as he will be an impossible match up.
If not for Seferian-Jenkins Huskies fans would be excited about redshirt sophomore 6'6" 255 lb tight end Michael Hartvigson who many are saying had the best offseason. Last year Hartvigson caught eight passes for 30 yards with a touchdown against the Oregon Ducks. He also had a 31 yard reception taken away due to a horrific call last year against Arizona. Hartvigson was a three-star recruit and #20 tight end in the nation when he came to the Huskies. He is a great blocker and due to that he will play plenty. He might even start as the Huskies look to go with the two tight end set. Another guy the Huskies are high on is redshirt sophomore Evan Hudson who is 6'5" 262 lbs who caught a touchdown last season against Stanford.
The Huskies have three tall tight ends who will be in the program for this year and the 2013 season so the position of weakness as recently as 2010 is now a position of strength. Every program in the nation would kill to have a Seferian-Jenkins who appears destined to be an NFL first round draft pick after the 2013 season. For now look for Price to exploit plenty of match ups as he looks to his big athletic tight end Seferian-Jenkins on key third downs and in the red zone.
At center the Huskies will return redshirt senior captain Drew Schaefer at center. In 2009 as a freshman Schaefer started the final four games of the season at left tackle and played in all 12 games. In 2010 he switched to center starting 11 games at center while starting the other two at tackle. Then in 2011 he started all 13 games at center. Schaefer the former three-star recruit and #32 tackle in the nation has started 30 games in his career at Washington while starting 24 at center. He has played in all 38 games he has suited up in so far.
The Huskies are now moving true junior Erik Kohler back to guard as he'll start at right guard. Kohler came in as a four-star recruit and 5th rated tackle in the nation. As a true freshman he played in 11 games while starting four games at guard and another as a tackle. He made his first career start at home against the Nebraska Cornhuskers and also started the Apple Cup win. Then in 2011 he started all 13 games at right tackle. Kohler just like that has 18 career starts under his belt. On the other side of him is redshirt sophomore Colin Tanigawa who started the first 11 games last year at left guard where he'll be again this year. He was injured in the Oregon State game but has since recovered meaning he should be ready to go week one.
The question mark will come at the tackle positions as the Huskies will be starting two guys who have never started before. Starting at left tackle is redshirt sophomore Micah Hatchie who was a four-star recruit and #25 tackle in the nation in the 2010 class. Hatchie played in all 13 games last year including seeing some significant time during some games. The other tackle will be redshirt sophomore right tackle Ben Riva out of O'Dea who was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He is the biggest mystery of the group as he only played on the field goal team last year. Redshirt sophomore James Atoe and redshirt freshman Dexter Charles appear to be the main backups in case of an injury.
This unit has the most question marks as they lost two starters while only having one senior. This unit has a combined zero career starts from both their tackles combined which can be a recipe for a disaster. The good news is on paper four of these five guys should be returning for the 2013 season while three should be starting for their third straight year plus in 2014. The line has some talent but it's just a matter of how quickly can they grow up and come together as a group which will ultimately determine how far the Huskies go this season.
At defensive end the Huskies will start redshirt sophomore Andrew Hudson who was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. Last year as a redshirt freshman Hudson played in all 13 games including starting two games. He recorded four sacks last year but 2.5 game in the last two games. He had 1.5 sacks against the Cougars in the Apple Cup and sacked Heisman trophy winner RGIII while forcing a fumble in the Alamo Bowl. Starting opposite of Hudson the Huskies are hoping is medical redshirt sophomore Hau'oli Jamora who had a great freshman season can return. In 2010 Jamora played in all 13 games while starting the final seven games. He recorded four sacks and in the Holiday Bowl upset over Nebraska had three tackles for loss including a sack. Last season he only played in four games recording a sack before tearing his ACL missing the entire season. If Jamora can return him and Hudson can form a great pass rush plus with Wilcox blitzing more the Huskies could actually create some sacks.
If Jamora can't go look for senior Talia Crichton to start in his place. As a freshman Crichton played in nine games including making four starts. In 2010 he started the first six games of the year recording two sacks before injuries to his knee finished his season. In 2011 he started the first three games while playing in 11 games. Another guy who could fill the void is junior Sione Potoa'e who came in as a four-star recruit and #4 defensive tackle in the nation. Potoa'e as a true freshman played in 11 games while starting two against BCS teams Oregon and Stanford. He recorded two sacks that season. In 2011 he played in 11 games including making a start against California.
The big question with this unit is the health of Jamora. If he is healthy the Huskies rush ends can make some noise this year. They have the big guys up the middle headline by Shelton and I think their ends will create some pressure this year. If the Huskies wish to be elite they need to get better in the trenches so this unit will be under the microscope as they were the huge let down last season.
With the new 3-4 look and being loaded at safety the Huskies are moving former safety Nate Fellner to outside linebacker. Fellner has been an off and on starter for the past two seasons for the Huskies. In 2009 as a true freshman he played in nine games including making three starts while recording a sack. In 2010 as a sophomore was a break out season for Fellner as he started all 13 games at free safety where he made 79 tackles and led the team with five interceptions. In 2011 he missed four games due to injury as he played in nine games, making four starts including a key interception against the Arizona Wildcats. Fellner, however broke his foot and will miss the first three games at least. Starting in his place is redshirt freshman Travis Feeney who like Fellner came to the Huskies as a safety. In the 3-4 you typically have one outside linebacker rush the quarterback which is what Shirley will do while the other is out in pass coverage which is what Fellner is more than capable of doing.
In the middle will be true sophomore captain John Timu who played in 12 games last year while making eight starts. Timu has bulked up to 231 lbs which will help him being in the middle. Last season Timu recorded 52 tackles, including seven for loss while forcing two fumbles and recovering a fumble. The other linebacker will be junior Princeton Fuimaono. Fuimaono as a freshman played in all 13 games while making a start at #1 Oregon. Then in 2011 as a sophomore Fuimaono started all 13 games. In the Apple Cup Fuimaono recorded nine tackles, four for loss while recording a sack and forcing a fumble. Fuimaono had 64 tackles last year with three sacks while having nine tackles for loss.
The Huskies four linebackers have combined started 42 games in their collegiate careers. Last year I felt the weakness of the entire football team was the linebackers. With the switch to the 3-4 and returning four guys who have starting experience the Huskies should be in good shape. The #2's who will be tested early since Fellner will miss the first three games have experience as well which is good to see. Just like with every other unit the Huskies have they have some experience and some talent. This particular unit if Justin Wilcox can turn it around will buy the Huskies an extra win or two.
The secondary will be led by senior captain Desmond Trufant who will be entering his fourth season as a starter for the Huskies. As a freshman in 2009 he played in all 12 games starting the final nine games. He recorded 47 tackles, two interceptions and recovered a fumble for a 17 yard touchdown at Notre Dame. He earned honorable mention all Pac-10. As a sophomore in 2010 he started all 13 games recording 48 tackles. He had one interception and one sack as a sophomore. In 2011 he once again started all 13 games recording 64 tackles, two interceptions, one sack. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles as he was named once again all Pac-12 honorable mention. He was named Pac-12 defensive player of the week in week one win over Eastern Washington where he had 11 tackles, forced a fumble and had the game clinching interception. Trufant has played in 38 career games while starting in 35 games. He brings a ton of experience to the Huskies secondary.
Another player in the secondary expected to do big things is junior captain strong safety Sean Parker. Parker was a big land for Sarkisian on signing day as he was a 4-star recruit who was the 6th ranked safety in the nation. As a true freshman he played in nine games as the Huskies nickel back and even recorded an interception. The last year as a sophomore he started all 13 games making 91 tackles while intercepting four passes. With Parker the Huskies have a guy who has 13 starts under his belt and 22 games while also being a talented player. Parker is the type of safety who will play in the NFL someday and look for him to have a break out season this year.
The other safety spot has two veterans in senior Justin Glenn and junior Will Shamburger. For Glenn as a freshman in 2009 he started four of the first fives games before being out for the season due to injury. He had two fumble recoveries that season including a touchdown at Stanford. As a sophomore played in eight games after recovering from the broken leg. Then last year in 2011, as a junior he played in all 13 games including five starts. He recorded 52 tackles including three for loss. Shamburger who is a junior, played in 10 games as a freshman in 2010 mostly on special teams. Then last year as a sophomore in 2011 he played in 11 games making four starts. He had 36 tackles while forcing a fumble. Both these guys bring experience to the safety position.
There is a good chance those two are backups to true freshman Shaq Thompson who will start the opening game at free safety. Thompson is a great athlete as you read earlier with his rushing stats and will play some offense. However, he will make his money on defense as he was the consensus #1 safety in the entire nation coming out of high school. Thompson the five-star recruit from Sacramento, California was regarded in some rankings as either the 3rd or 4th best player overall in the entire country when he signed with the Huskies. Thompson is 6'2" 215 lbs and very versatile. He will play some corner for the Huskies, he will play some outside linebacker even and he will contribute on offense. Thompson is the most talented safety the Huskies have had since Lawyer Milloy.
The Huskies are also gaining back another talented safety in James Sample who played in only two games last year before being hurt. The former 4-star recruit and #22 safety in the nation in the class of 2011 brings more talent to the secondary. Sample is another big guy at 6'2" that the Huskies can put out there and he also played in the U.S. Army All-American game for the top high schoolers. Sample along with Thompson are two freshman who will make an impact this season.
Starting at the other corner spot could be redshirt freshman Marcus Peters who was a 3-star recruit in 2011. The Huskies beat out nine schools for him including seven Pac-12 schools. The Huskies beat out Oregon and Boise State for him as he has shown he has talent. Peters will be battling Gregory Ducre who came into Washington as a three-star corner in the 2010 class. As a freshman he played in all 13 games intercepting a pass even. Then in 2011 as a sophomore he played in all 13 games making six starts where he recorded 37 tackles, a sack and an interception. Another corner who looks to factor in is true freshman Brandon Beaver who was a 3-star recruit on scout.com and a 4-star recruit on rivals.com .
For now redshirt junior Tre Watson will start at corner for the Huskies. Watson who was a walk-on last year was rewarded a scholarship as he sat out due to transfer rules. He played in 2010 at Central Washington University where he played in all 11 games making 10 starts. Watson recorded 28 tackles while recording an interception. The previous year as a freshman he played at West Hills College where he played in all 10 games while making two interceptions. This is a surprising move for Sarkisian but he'll get the start.
The Huskies secondary has experience and talent. Wilcox looks to be more aggressive than previous coordinator Nick Holt was so look for the secondary to be put on an island more often. I think the secondary will rise up and make some plays this year. They return five guys who have made starts along with two high profile recruits coming in. If this group can play up to their potential then the Huskies defense can blitz more which should make for a special season at Montlake.
For Coons he kicked the last two years at Mt. San Antonio College. He will be a junior and was the #3 ranked field goal kicker. Then the Huskies signed out of Gig Harbor 3-star punter Korey Durkee. Durkee was all-state in high school averaging 45.9 yards per punt. The Huskies for the first time since Sarkisian got here won't be having Folk. So far under Sarkisian's watch the kicking game both sides has been pretty reliable. As of right now this could be a huge question mark heading into the season. These kickers will be tested early as the Huskies face four ranked opponents in their first six games.
Sarkisian, as you read in this preview you can tell has built up the talent level. He has posted three straight ranked recruiting classes while currently having the Huskies ranked yet again this year in recruiting. His specialty is offense, which appears to be thriving and only getting better under his watch. Sarkisian has made winning at home a tough challenge for visitors as he is 13-6 at home with five of those losses coming to ranked opponents. If he is to grow as a coach he must improve on the road where he is only 5-12 as a head coach beating only two teams with a winning record. If the Huskies plan on taking the next step with him as head coach they must win games on the road.
The Tyrone Willingham dark cloud over this program is finally over and Sarkisian should receive all the credit for that. The Huskies have gone to back to back bowl games under his watch while producing a winning conference record the last two seasons. Sarkisian has addressed the problems of the team and hired some top notch defensive coaches. The talent is their with the players and I believe in the coaching staff. I don't think this is the best coaching staff in the conference but I'd rank it in the top four which can be good enough to win a Rose Bowl once in a while. Sarkisian has acknowledge to grow as a program you must beat those elite teams. There will be no excuses from him which I like and I do believe the program is moving in the right direction.
The Huskies will once again for the third straight season go to a bowl game. The early schedule is tough and already having injuries doesn't help with that. I think this team survives that six game stretch to go 3-3 as they upset Stanford at home who has lost quite a bit of talent themselves. I think this team will be very strong on offense led by Keith Price who will have plenty of weapons when this team is healthy. I think the offensive line will grow and become a good unit especially up the middle where they appear the strongest. I see the Huskies having plenty of difference makers on offense which they haven't had a few years back. Price is the straw that stirs the drink but he has plenty of offensive help as well.
I think the talent on defense is there, they just underachieved last year. I think Wilcox will have some growing pains but the defense has quite a bit of returning talent not to mention some impact freshman. I think the defense will create more big plays whether that be sacks, forced fumbles or interceptions. I think this team due to their youth at certain spots will struggled early but grow as the season progresses.
For now I'll say this Huskies team goes 8-4 and 6-3 in conference which is good for second place in the north division. I think they start off 3-3 then finished 5-1 before going to a bowl game for the third straight year under Sarkisian. This team returns plenty of talent while bringing in some impact freshman. Not to mention Sarkisian redshirted 19 guys and will probably redshirt plenty in this class as well. The Huskies for the most part are a deep team. Even now with injuries at the wide receiver position plus graduation nobody is pressing the panic button due to the depth created. This is a rising program who takes that next step and wins eight regular season games something this program hasn't done since 2001. That should be good momentum heading into 2013 which could be a big year for this program on paper.
As you've read in this preview the future appears to be bright for the Huskies. I feel like all the talk of 2013 is under selling this team which has a chance to make a name for themselves. This team can change the identity and return the Huskies to a solid defensive program once again. This team hasn't won eight games since 2001 and has only done it four times since Don James retired in August of 1993. If the Huskies had a healthy Price last year vs Oregon State or an average defense vs Baylor or Nebraska the Huskies could have won eight or nine games last season. I think this team is deeper and more talented than any team Sarkisian has had so far. I'm very excited for this season to finally begin and I can't wait until Saturday's to cheer on my Huskies! I think 2012 is the year the Huskies make some progress as they build momentum in what could be a very huge 2013 season.