The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the 24th of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover the no. 2 Washington Huskies.
Washington lost two games in the regular season last year and qualified for the Fiesta Bowl. They lost that game to Penn State. With a lot of key players back, and a schedule of winnable games could get Washington back into the College Football Playoff.
The offense ranked 17th in points per game, 44th in rushing and 72nd in passing last season. With six returning starters and a bevy of talent back, this offense could be even better in 2018.
Jake Browning will operate the offense for one last season as one of the best to ever do it in a Huskies uniform. Last season, he threw for 2,719 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions on 68.5% completion. His game is predicated on accuracy and short throws, which helps the team pick up first downs and keep the offense on the field.
Drew Sample returns at tight end, but only had 84 receiving yards last season. Dante Pettis is now in the NFL, so Browning will have to find some new targets. Aaron Fuller is the leading returning receiver with 291 yards. Ty Jones will be expected to increase his production this season.
Running back Myles Gaskin came back to school to team with Browning for one more year. He rushed for 1,380 yards and 21 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry in 2017. With another solid season, he can crack the career rushing leaders top 20 for the FBS. The Huskies will feed Gaskin the ball heavily in 2018.
Three offensive linemen are back from the starting lineup last season. Left tackle Trey Adams is a star and will be playing in the NFL next season.
The receivers are the biggest question mark, but Washington has a lot to build off of on this side of the ball.
Washington had an elite defense last year and has nine starters returning. They ranked fifth in points per game allowed, fourth against the run and 32nd against the pass. Vita Vea is now in the NFL, but the Huskies will be great on defense again.
Greg Gaines will play the nose tackle position now. He did a good job against the run last season and will need to play bigger and stronger than last season. Jaylen Johnson and Levi Onwuzurike will play the end positions and had 5.5 sacks between them last season.
Ben Burr-Kirven led the team in tackles at linebacker last season with 84. He will be rejoined by Tevis Bartlett who had 12 tackles for loss and two interceptions in 2017.
Washington’s secondary will be one of the best in the country. Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh are an elite safety duo. Rapp was third on the team with 59 total tackles. Jordan Miller and Myles Bryant started last year and did well, giving Huskies’ fans optimism that no one will be able to throw on them.
This defense will not only be the best in the Pac-12, but will be one of the best in the country in 2018.
The non-conference schedule will include games against Auburn (Atlanta, GA), North Dakota (home) and BYU (home). Playing Auburn will be tough and could go either way, but Washington should be able to win the other two games without too much trouble.
For the Pac-12, Washington plays hard games against Utah (away), Oregon (away) and Stanford (home). They are susceptible to losing games they shouldn’t, as they lost to Arizona State last year.
All in all, this is an easy schedule that should allow the Huskies to win 10-12 regular season games given their players and coaching.
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