2015 Washington Huskies Football Preview

Team Info
Washington Huskies
Head Coach: Chris Petersen
2014 record: 8-6 overall, 4-5 Pac 12 North
2014 Postseason results: Lost to Oklahoma State 30-22 in the Cactus Bowl
2015 returning starters: 5 offense, 4 defense

Betting Info
Odds to win 2016 College Football  Championship game: 450/1
Odds to win 2015 Pac 12 Championship Game: 55/1
Odds to Win 2015 Pac 12 North Division: 29/2
Regular season wins: over 4 -160 / under 4 +130
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Washington looks to go to a bowl for a sixth straight season.

Washington looks to go to a bowl for a sixth straight season.

The Washington Huskies have qualified for a bowl in five straight seasons. That streak could be in jeopardy as only 9 starters are back for second year coach Chris Petersen.

Last season, the Huskies had an up and down 8-5 campaign in the regular season. Washington did not beat one team who had a winning record last year. Washington would end up losing to Oklahoma State 30-22 in the Cactus Bowl to fall to 8-6 on the season.

Offense

Last season, the offense wasn’t spectacular by any means. The Huskies averaged 389 yards and 30 points per game. The passing game ranked 11th in the Pac 12 at 200 yards per game. Five starters are back for offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith.

The Huskies will have to break in a new starter at quarterback because last year’s quarterback Cyler Miles had to end his football career because of a hip injury. Miles threw for 2,367 yards with 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and also rushed for 307 yards with 4 touchdowns. Three players were competing in the spring, including junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning. However, none really have a firm grasp on the job. In June, Washington signed JUCO transfer Tony Rodriguez to add even more juice to the competition. Lindquist started the season opener at Hawaii last year and is the only quarterback on the roster with FBS game experience. Rodriguez threw for 2,382 yards with 18 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and also rushed for 3 touchdowns last year for City College of San Francisco.

Regardless of who the quarterback is, the Huskies will lean heavily on the running game with a pair of talented running backs. Dwayne Washington had 132 carries for 697 yards and 9 touchdowns, plus 15 catches. Washington has breakaway speed and had four touchdown runs of 51 yards or more in the second half of the season when he took over as the starter.  Lavon Coleman had 138 carries for 565 yards and a touchdown, along with 9 catches. Look for Washington to get most of the carries if he can stay healthy.

Jaydon Mickens will be the go-to receiver again after making 60 catches for 617 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, the receiving unit took a hit when John Ross III suffered a leg injury in May and will miss the 2015 season. He had 17 catches for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns, and also rushed for a touchdown. He was expected to move to wide receiver full time after starting at cornerback last season. Tight end Joshua Perkins had 25 catches for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns last year and is back for his senior season. Dante Pettis had 17 catches for 259 yards and a touchdown, and also returned a punt for a touchdown. DiAndre Campbell (San Francisco 49ers) and Kasen Williams (Seattle Seahawks) are both in the NFL now.

Four year starter at left guard Dexter Charles will anchor the line and provide veteran leadership. Sophomore Coleman Shelton is also rack at right tackle after starting as a freshman.

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Defense

Washington gave up 411 yards per game on defense last year. The Huskies were #123 out of 128 FBS teams in pass defense allowing 287 yards per game but #22 in rush defense at 124 yards per game. Washington allowed only 25 points a game because they forced 29 turnovers last year. Only four starters are back for coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski.

The Huskies lose all four starters on the defensive line and will actually move to a 3-4 defense in 2015. Look for redshirt freshman Jaylen Johnson, sophomore Elijah Qualls and senior Taniela Tupou to claim the starting spots.

The linebackers also lose a lot of talent with the departure of All-American Shaq Thompson and four year starter John Timu. The only returning starter is three year starter Travis Freeney on the outside. He will be joined by sophomores Keishawn Bierra and Azeem Victor on the inside and junior Joe Mathis at the other outside linebacker.

Three of the four returning starters are in the secondary. Safeties Budda Baker and Kevin King are back as well as cornerback Sidney Jones. The secondary struggled last year but could be the strength of a young defense in 2015.

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Special Teams

Kicker Cameron Van Winkle made 20 of 24 field goals last year. Punter Korey Durkee averaged 42.5 yards per punt in 2014. Ross was supposed to return kicks after two touchdown returns last year. However, Pettis might do both jobs with the injury to Ross.

Schedule

Washington opens the  season at Petersen’s old school Boise State. The Huskies then host Sacramento State and Utah State. Washington opens Pac 12 play at home against California. In October, the Huskies have road games at USC and Stanford and home games against Oregon and Arizona. November brings home games against Utah and Washington State and road games at Arizona State and Oregon State.

Outlook

With so many questions at quarterback and in the front 7, I think this team takes a step back in 2015. I think Husky fans would be overjoyed with 7 wins, but I think six wins is more realistic.

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Special Teams

Kicker Cameron Van Winkle made 20 24 field goals last year. Punter Korey Durkee averaged 42.5 yards per punt last year. Ross was supposed to be the kick returner and he ahs 3 career kick returns for touchdowns. However, Pettis might perform both return jobs after the injury to Ross.

Schedule

Washington opens at Chris Petersen’s old school Boise State. The Huskies then host Sacramento State, Utah State and California to close out September. October brings road games at Oregon and Stanford and home games against USC and Arizona. In November, Washington hosts Utah and Washington State and travels to Arizona State and Oregon State.

Outlook

There are a lot of questions at quarterback and in the front seven on defense. I think Husky fans would be overjoyed with 7 wins, but 5 or 6 wins seems more realistic. This team had three players that were first round picks in the NFL draft and that kind of talent is difficult to replace.

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Posted by on Jul 20 2015. Filed under College Football, Headlines. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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