2010 Record: 7-6
2010 Bowl Result: Beat Nebraska 19-7 in Holiday Bowl
2010 Against the spread: 6-6-1
2010 over/under: 7-6
Returning starters: 13 (7 offense, 6 defense)
Throughout August we are releasing pre-season previews for all the major college teams. Our College Football Handicappers are doing plenty of research to make sure we release winners every week during the upcoming season.
The Washington Huskies finished last season at 7-6 under coach Steve Sarkisian. They beat Nebraska 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl. Nebraska had beaten Washington in Seattle earlier in the season 56-21. Washington also upset USC 32-31 for teh second year in a row. That was with quarterback Jake Locker, a first round pick of the Tennessee Titans. This season the Huskies return 13 starters.
Here is a look at Washington’s offense, defense, special teams, and schedule.
Despite having one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Locker, the Huskies relied on the rushing game for most of their offense. The rushing game was ranked #40 in the country with 172.5 a game but overall the offense wasn’t spectacular by any means averaging only 362.9 total yards a game. Surprisingly, the passing game struggled with Locker at the helm, with only 190.4 yards a game. The Huskies averaged only 21.8 points a game which was ranked 96th out of 120 teams.
This year the Huskies hope sophomore Keith Price is the right fit for the offense as he takes over for Locker. He threw 37 passes last year, with two of them going for touchdowns. He started and played well against Oregon last year when Locker was hurt. Price also came into the USC game late and threw the game winning 2 point conversion when Locker left due to injury. He does love to run but he is 6-1 and 192 pounds and taking so many hits might no be a good thing. He does know to slide though, so injuries could be prevented. Redshirt Freshman Nick Montana, son of Joe, is the back-up. Expect Montana to see some snaps this season as well.
Junior Chris Polk returns to Huskies, but he could have gone to the NFL draft. He will be a first rounder, barring injury, whenever he comes out either after this season or next season. Polk had 260 carries for 1,415 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also had 22 catches but didn’t catch any touchdowns. Polk had more carries than all the other players on the team combined. Locker was the closest with 114 carries, which will go to Price this year. My point is the back-up running back isn’t very significant unless Polk gets hurt. Sophomore Jesse Callier had 77 carries for 433 yards last year with no touchdowns. Redshirt Freshman Deontae Cooper tore his ACL last August, but is healthy now. He will get some carries as well. Former walk-on Jonathan Amosa is the fullback and is an excellent blocker. He might get a few carries as well.
Senior Jermaine Kearse returns after he had 63 catches, 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns. Despite that some called his season a failure because he dropped so many passes. He just needs to work on being more consistent and he could be one of the best receivers in the Pac 12. Senior Devin Aguilar had 28 catches, 352 yards, and 2 touchdowns and also returns. Like Kearse, he struggled with drops as well. Sophomore Kevin Smith, freshman Austin Seferian-Jackson, junior James Johnson, and redshirt freshman DiAndre Campbell will also get some targets by Price. Washington has two young but very talented tight ends. True freshman Kasen Williams was the Parade Magazine national player of the year last year. Redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson played in four games last year before being injured. Both will see action at tight end this season.
Despite having Locker, Polk, and Kearse, the offense underachieved. A large part of that was the offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback and open holes for Polk. They return 3 starters this year, led by senior LT Senio Kelemete. The line still has a lot of work to do to improve.
Despite a 27th ranked pass defense that only gave up 194.4 yards a game, the defense was ranked 70th in total yards allowing 387 yards a game. This was mainly due to a horrendous rush defense that was ranked 98th in the country giving up 192.7 yards a game. The Huskies gave up 29.3 points a game which was 80th in the country. The defense returns 6 starters from that unit.
Though the defense struggled last season, there were signs of life near the end of the season, like holding Nebraska to 7 points in the holiday Bowl. However, take that with a grain of salt as Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had injured his ankle in the middle of the season. Martinez led a Nebraska offense that hung 56 on Washington a few months earlier when he was healthy.
The defense must replace linebackers Mason Foster and Victor Aiyewa who were both all conference last year. Senior DT Alameda Ta’amu leads a much improved pass rush, and will be the leader on defense. The secondary returns two starters, corner Desmond Trufant, (brother of Seahawks corner Marcus) and Safety Nate Fellner.
Senior Erik Folk returns. He has never missed an extra point in his career hitting all 68. He regressed a little last year as he missed 7 out of 20 field goals. He needs to be more consistent but could join his brother Nick (kicker for the Jets), in the NFL.
Senior Will Mahan missed all but one game last season and was granted an extra year of eligibility as the punter. However, senior Kyle Rasp took over as the punter when Mahan was injured and set a school record for punt average at 43.7 yards per punt. The two are expected to compete for the punting job.
Kevin Smith and Callier will return kicks, and Aguliar will return punts.
Washington opens the season at home against Eastern Washington. Though the Eagles play at the FCS level, they are no pushover, as they won the FCS National Championship last year. The Huskies then host Hawaii before traveling to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers for the third time in a year. In conference, Washington has home games against Cal, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington St. They have road games at Utah, Stanford, USC, and Oregon St. I don’t see any more than 7 wins for this team, and only if Price picks up the offense quickly.
Washington was 6-6-1 against the spread including 2-4 at home and 4-2-1 on the road. The over under was 7-6 including 3-3 at home and 4-3 on the road.
Game to Play Washington
October 15, Washington hosts Colorado for the first time as conference rivals as the Buffaloes move over from the Big 12. Colorado will be one of the worst teams in the Pac 12 along with Washington St. The Huskies should win at home.
Game to bet against Washington
Last season Washington lost 41-0 at home to Stanford, part of an ugly three game losing streak that also included games against Arizona and Oregon. The Huskies were outscored 138-30 in those three games. This year Washington travels to Stanford and it could be another brutal game. I like the Cardinal in that game.
Check out our college football odds page for the best lines on every game.