2011 Record: 7-6; 5-4 Pac 12
2011 Bowl: 56-67 L to Baylor @ Alamo Bowl
Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian
Odds to win Pac-12: 20/1
Odds to win Pac-12 North Division: 7/1
O/U Wins: 7; Over (EVEN) Under (-130)
Odds from Bovada
QB Keith Price is coming off one of the best years at quarterback in Huskies history. He threw for 3,063 yards and a school record 33 TDs. He’s innovative in the pockets and versatile, not to mention very tough. Price is the key to the Huskies attack and their passing offense ranked 35th in the nation with 255.5 yards per game.
At RB, they lost three-year starter Chris Polk to the NFL, which left them scrambling for an answer as to who could carry the ball. The solution was found in the form of Jr. Jesse Callier, who backed Polk for two seasons. He’s not quite as quick afoot as Polk, but he has experience and should be able to step in and help keep the Huskies good on the ground. In terms of skill set, Soph. Bishop Sankey will be a good fit for the Huskies as well and JUCO transfer Antavius Sims will help a lot as well, making the move to RB after having been a QB at the JUCO level.
TE Austin Seferian Jenkins caught for 538 yards per game last year and WR Kasen Williams accounted for 427 ypg. Both were freshman and will be making big strides this year, giving Price two excellent targets to keep the Huskies pass attack top notch. Seferian Jenkins has an All-America upside almost as big as his 6’6″ 258 pound frame.
Up front, it hurts to lose Colin Porter, who ended up having degenerative arthritis in both of his shoulders. Still, the Huskies have the basis of a strong unit because they return three very good starters from last year in C Drew Schaefer, T Erik Kohler, and G Colin Tanigawa.
Defense was what kept the offensively high powered Huskies from doing much better than their piddling 7-6 record. They gave up 453.3 yards per game, second worst in the Pac 12. The DL was below average after losing their best player Hau’oli Jamora, who went down with a season ending knee injury. He will be the best defensive player on the team when he recovers and returns.
The DL returns two starters in John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono, but the defensive staff is toying a lot with the lineup, so their clutches on a starting role remains tenuous. The secondary is the key to making the Huskies a better defensive team, though. They’ve rebuilt with a five star recruit in Shaq Thompson, who will likely be the starter at free safety. The only two returning starters, however, are Sr. CB Desmond Trufant and Jr. SS Sean Parker.
The Huskies will need to replace their kickers this season. Freshman Korey Durkee will handle the punting, while JUCO transfer Travis Coons will be the place kicker.
Steve Sarkisian has made the Huskies a formidable program once again, and Athlon magazine predicts an 8-4 record with a 6-3 Pac 12 record. In his 38 games as coach, they have gone .500, and this year could be a step up from that according to many analysts. If their defense improves, that is an absolute certainty.
The poor defense was the reason they gave up 67 points in the loss to Baylor at the Rose Bowl. Winning that bowl gas would have been huge for the Huskies, but they’ll find their way to another bowl this year in all likelihood, which could prove as a benchmark for a team that is only getting better. After all, they did face Robert Griffin III that game, and not every team has a QB of that caliber.
Nonetheless, without a marked improvement in defense, this team can’t really contend for a Pac 12 championship, and even with one, it’s a long shot against juggernauts Oregon and USC, with USC the odds on favorite to win the BCS championship.