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2011 College Football Season Preview: Washington Huskies

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2010 Record: (7-6, 5-4 in Pac-10)

Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian (12-13 All-Time, 9-9 in Pac-10)

Last Bowl Game: 2010 Holiday (beat Nebraska 19-7)

2010 Preview

CFBZ Washington Links

Pre-Spring All Pac-12 Team

Returning Pac-12 Offensive Firepower

Schedule

9/3: Eastern Washington

9/10: Hawaii

9/17: at Nebraska (2010 result: lost 56-21)

9/24: California (2010 result: won 16-13)

10/1: at Utah

10/15: Colorado

10/22: at Stanford (2010 result: lost 41-0)

10/29: Arizona (2010 result: lost 44-14)

11/5: Oregon (2010 result: lost 53-16)

11/12: at USC (2010 result: won 32-31)

11/19: at Oregon State (2010 result: won 35-34 2OT)

11/26: Washington State (2010 result: won 35-28)

2010 Offensive Statistics:

Scoring: 21.8 ppg (8th in Pac-10, 96th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 172.15 yds/game (5th in Pac-10, 38th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 190.4 yds/game (8th in Pac-10, 83rd in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 362.5 yds/game (6th in Pac-10, 76th in Nation)

2010 Defensive Statistics:

Scoring: 29.3 ppg (8th in Pac-10, 79th in Nation)

Rushing Yds/Game: 190.46 yds/game (8th in Pac-10, 97th in Nation)

Passing Yds/Game: 194.4 yds/game (2nd in Pac-10, 27th in Nation)

Total Yds/Game: 384.8 yds/game (6th in Pac-10, 70th in Nation)

2010 Misc Stats:

Turnover Margin: +0.15 per game (6th in Pac-10, 47th in Nation)

Penalties: 56.2 yds/game (3rd in Pac-10, 79th in Nation)

Returning Starters:

Offense: 7

Defense: 8

Kicker/Punter: 2

Top Returning Statistical Leaders:

Passing: QB Keith Price, Soph (19 of 37 for 164 yds, 9 TD)

Rushing: RB Chris Polk, Jr (260 for 1415 yds, 5.4 ypc, 2 TD)

Receiving: WR Jermaine Kearse, Sr (63 rec for 1005 yds, 12 TD)

Tackles: LB Cort Dennison, Sr (92)

Sacks: DE Hau'oli Jamora, Sr (2.5)

Interceptions: S Nate Fellner, Jr (5)

Bowl Predictions:

Athlon Sports: Sun Bowl (vs North Carolina)

Phil Steele: New Mexico Bowl (vs Colorado State)

Jake Locker's senior season didn't turn out quite the way he had probably hoped but at the end of the season the Huskies ended up about where we thought. In our Pac-10 preview last year we picked the Huskies to finish in 5th place and they actually finished in a tie for 3rd (although technically they won the tie-breaker game over USC). 2010 was really a roller-coaster ride for the Huskies as they didn't have any "easy games" on the schedule. Washington started out just 3-6 but they also played a schedule where 6 of their first 9 games came against opponents who were ranked in the Top 25 when they played them. The Huskies beat two ranked teams in USC and Oregon State but also fell to a couple of unranked teams in BYU and Arizona State.

The most positive thing to come out of the season had to be how the team finished as they won their final four games including an upset of Nebraska (a team that had handled the Huskies 56-21 earlier in the season) in the Holiday Bowl. As Steve Sarkisian enters his third year as Head Coach he will be coaching for the first time without QB Jake Locker. The schedule this year sets up a bit easier at the start although there still aren't any "free ones" (even Eastern Washington went 13-2 last year and won the FCS Championship). To find out more about the 2011 version of the Washington Huskies we turned to Seattle Times reporter Bob Condotta. Make sure to visit his Husky Football Blog for the latest on the Pac-12 and Washington Huskies football.

Steve Sarkisian is in his third year, what do you think about the job he's done so far with this team?

I prefer not to state my own preferences all that much since I'm a beat writer for the team, so will speak more generally about what I think the mood is around the program. I think most fans are happy with the progress so far, getting UW back to a bowl game last year and winning it and appearing to improve the recruiting. UW has gotten some significant commits the last few years, notably signing each of what the Seattle Times considered the top five players in the state last year.

I think there was some nervousness about the direction of the program when UW was 3-6 last year. But the finish calmed a lot of nerves. Still, UW is a program with high expectations and a rich history and fans will be eager to see if the team this year can overcome the loss of Jake Locker and again make some strides.

Keith Price has been named the starting QB over Nick Montana and has some pretty big shoes to fill replacing Jake Locker. Tell us a little bit about what Price brings to the Huskies offense.

Price is another dual-threat type, who had offers from the likes of Arizona State and serious interest from Oregon before committing to UW. He is pretty happy-go-lucky off the field, but showed in the spring that he can lead the team, winning the QB battle --- for the moment, anyway --- with Nick Montana, both with his running and his accurate passing. We'll see if he proves to have the big arm necessary to make the deep throws, but he showed a nice touch on the short-to-intermediate stuff in the spring, and as noted, has good running ability so that part of the offense doesn't have to change much.

Washington gave up 29.3 points per game last year and finished 8th in the Conference in rushing defense. Who needs to step up this year on defense?

The hope for improvement rests on the return of most of the key players on the front four and in the secondary. UW needs tackle Alameda Ta'amu to continue to play with the dominance he showed in the Holiday Bowl, and end Hau'oli Jamora to continue the play-making he displayed off the edge late in the season. Newcomer DE Josh Shirley was a revelation in the spring and should also improve the pass-rushing. Three of four starters return in the secondary, including veteran CBs Desmond Trufant and Quinton Richardson. If they can prove to handle consistent one-on-one coverage that could go a long way to freeing up more players up front to rush the passer and handle run defense duties.

Who are some newcomers that you think could make an immediate impact for the Huskies this year?

I mentioned DE Josh Shirley above. Two on offense who should play key roles immediately are TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and WR Kasen Williams, each local players who were the crown jewels of the Class of 2011. Redshirt frosh TE Michael Hartvigson also had a solid spring and that position should be hugely upgraded from 2010, when for a variety off reasons it was pretty much non-existent by the end of the year.

Redshirt frosh RB Deontae Cooper could also be a huge addition on offense if he proves able to fully recover from the ACL injury he suffered in camp last year. He was on track to be a key part of the offense last year before being injured.

What do you see as the most pivotal games on the schedule?

The key game could simply be the first Pac-12 home game against Cal on Sept. 24. It's a winnable game against a team that seems pretty comparable on paper. UW has four of its first six conference games at home, so a win against Cal would put UW in a good spot to stay in the hunt for a while. But lose that one and UW would be up against it pretty quickly with a trip to Utah the following week and then another to Stanford a couple weeks later.

What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?

I've said all along I think this team can again win the six or seven games necessary to get back to a bowl. And given the loss of Jake Locker and that this is still a young team overall, I think most fans would regard that as successful and another step in the right direction.

Next Preview: Ole Miss

Coming in August: Pac-12 Preview

Coming in August: CFBZ Top 25 Countdown

2011 Team Previews

ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Wake Forest

Big 12- Baylor , Kansas St, Texas Tech

Big East- Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, USF

Big Ten- Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota , Northwestern, Penn St, Purdue

C-USA- East Carolina, Houston , Marshall, SMU, Southern Mississippi, UAB, UCF

Independent- Army

MAC- Akron, Ball St, Bowling Green, Buffalo ,Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Temple, Toledo, Western Michigan

MWC- Air Force, New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming

Pac-12- Arizona , Oregon St, UCLA

Sun Belt- FAU, FIU, Louisiana, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy , ULM, Western Kentucky

WAC- Fresno St, Idaho, San Jose St

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