2016 Washington Huskies Football Preview

Team Info
Washington Huskies
Head Coach: Chris Petersen
2015 record: 7-6 overall, 4-5 Pac 12 North
2015 Postseason results: Beat Southern Miss 44-31 in Heart of Dallas Bowl
2015 returning starters: 9 offense, 7 defense

Betting Info
Odds to win 2017 College Football  Championship game: 45/1
Odds to win 2016 Pac 12 Championship Game: +320
Odds to Win 2016 Pac 12 North Division: +208
Regular season wins: under 9 1/2 -160 / over 9 1/2 +130
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Washington looks to make the leap to Pac 12 contender in 2016.
Washington looks to make the leap to Pac 12 contender in 2016.

Washington hired Chris Petersen away from Boise State hoping he would work the same magic he did for the Broncos. Washington has gone a very mediocre 15-12 in Petersen’s two years in Seattle. However, this season the Huskies are loaded with 16 starters returning. In fact, they are a slight favorite to win the Pac 12, even over Stanford, Oregon, USC and UCLA.

Last year, Washington opened the season with a loss to Petersen’s former school Boise State. It would begin an up and down season where they would start 3-2 including an upset of USC. They would then lose four of their next five games, before winning their last three games all by double digits. Washington won their bowl game with a 44-31 win over Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl to finish 7-6 on the season. Strangely, Washington won seven games by an average margin of just under 30 points but lost six games by an average of 9 points per game.

Here is a deeper look at Washington on offense, defense, and special teams plus a look at the schedule.

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Washington started a slew of talented  freshmen at important positions last year, like quarterback, running back and two offensive linemen. The kids suffered some growing pains but the experience will make them better as sophomores. Nine starters are back for offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith. The offense averaged over 400 yards 31 points a game last year.

True freshman quarterback Jake Browning started 12 of 13 games last year. He threw for 2,955 yards with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. He threw four touchdown passes in routs of Arizona and Oregon State. The worst loss of the season came in the only game Browning missed against Stanford by 17 points. Redshirt sophomore K.J. Carta-Samuels will be the back-up again in 2016.

Freshman running back Myles Gaskin started only six games but still rushed for 1,302 yards on 227 yards with 14 touchdowns. Lavon Coleman will be the back-up after rushing for 176 yards last year. Wide receiver Chico McClatcher had 3 touchdowns last year and only caught 8 passes with a touchdown.  Dwayne Washington is now with the Detroit Lions after he had 4 rushing touchdowns and also caught 25 passes with 3 touchdowns.

Receiver Jaydon Mickens is now with the Oakland Raiders. He had 58 catches for 692 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver John Ross is back though after missing all of last year with a knee injury. He should be the go-to receiver, and has 8 career touchdowns of 55 yards or more. Juniors Dante Pettis (30 catches, 414 yards and a touchdown) and Brayden Lenius (26 catches, 307 yards and 3 touchdowns) are both back as well. The Huskies added former Oklahoma receiver K.J. Young who was kicked off the Sooners for some off the field issues. McClatcher could be a larger part of the passing game than he was in 2015.  Tight end Joshua Perkins is now with the Atlanta Falcons after making 36 catches for 539 yards and 3 touchdowns last year. Darrell Daniels takes over as the starting tight end after making 19 catches and a touchdown last year.

Two talented freshmen started at the two tackle positions last year for the Huskies in Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary. Right guard Jesse Sosebee is also a sophomore. The only two upperclassmen are left guard Jake Eldenkramp and center Coleman Shelton.


Washington had the #1 defense in the Pac 12 last year allowing 352 yards and 19 points a game. The Huskies did not allow more than 34 points in any game. Seven starters are back for co-coordinators Pete Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake.

Although Washington uses a 3-4 alignment, they list Elijah Qualls and Greg Gaines as starting tackles on the depth chart. Qualls has the potential to be a star at nose tackle after recording 4.5 sacks last year. Jaylen johnson will start at defensive end.

Azeem Victor and Keishawn Bierria are back at the inside linebacker positions but Washington must replace two star outside backers in Cory Littleton and Travis Feeney. Littleton and Feeney combined for 28.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks last year. Both are in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers respectively.  Victor and Bierria were the two leading tacklers last year and combined for 172 tackles including 16.5 for loss. Joe Mathis and Trevis Bartlett are slated to start on the outside but don’t be surprised if highly touted recruit Camilo Eifler starts sooner rather than later.

Free safety Budda Baker and cornerback Sidney Jones were both first team All-Pac 12 last year. Jones had 45 tackles and 4 interceptions and Baker had 49 tackles and 2 interceptions. Kevin King is also back at cornerback and was Pac 12 honorable mention last year. Strong safety JoJo McIntosh is the only new starter in a talented secondary that can rival almost any team in the country.

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Special Teams

Punt returner Dante Pettis took two to the house last year and averaged just under 17 yards per return. Ross has three kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career. Kicker Cameron Van Winkle is reliable making 16 of 20 field goals and all 49 extra points last year. Trevor Vizcaino takes over as the punter and will also handle kickoffs.

Schedule and Outlook

Washington has a soft non-conference schedule with home games against Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. The Huskies make up for it though with a tough three game slate to open the Pac 12 schedule with road games against Arizona and Oregon sandwiched around a showdown against Stanford in Seattle. Washington hosts Oregon State before road games at Utah and California. The Huskies host USC and Arizona State before their annual Apple Cup battle at Washington State to close out the season.

I get Washington returns 16 starters but I am just not sure this team is quite ready to make the leap to play with the big boys of the Pac 12 and compete for a playoff spot or a Rose Bowl berth. This team lost many close games last year, it is hard to see them just all of a sudden becoming an elite team. I think they win 9 games but it is my opinion that they are a notch below Stanford. I could be wrong.

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