Five keys to the Huskies’ season
A closer look at what the Huskies need to be successful.
Who’s the UW Quarterback?
Quarterback is the most obvious concern heading into Chris Petersen’s first season. Known as a QB guru, Petersen (along with new offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith) might be facing his biggest challenge in trying to whip one of the young QBs into shape by the time the Huskies arrive in Honolulu — and, more importantly, by the time Stanford rolls into Seattle on Sept. 27. Certainly, there is potential among UW’s top three arms — Cyler Miles, Troy Williams and Jeff Lindquist — but all three are raw. Miles, suspended for the season opener, remains the favorite to take over as the starter in Week 2. How quickly the quarterback comes of age will be the No. 1 factor in determining how successful Petersen’s first season is on Montlake.
Building a culture
Creating more discipline and building team camaraderie have been two priorities for Petersen in taking over at UW after his 13 years at Boise State. Naturally, there was some reluctance among UW players initially, and the few who didn’t come around are no longer with the program. Gradually, players have accepted the new expectations and they say they’ve established better trust among themselves. Whether that emphasis on discipline and unity immediately translates to the field remains to be seen.
The ‘back’-up plan
Last season, Bishop Sankey established his place among the Huskies’ all-time greats with a school-record 1,870 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. He then left after his junior season and became the first running back selected in May’s NFL draft. To replace Sankey, the Huskies have turned to a quartet of running backs — Deontae Cooper, Dwayne Washington, Lavon Coleman and Jesse Callier. They’re all in the running for playing time early in the season, with one intriguing option — Shaq Thompson — looming as a strong possibility, too.
There’s Marcus Peters, who you know. And then there’s three new faces in UW’s young defensive secondary. Redshirt freshman cornerback Jermaine Kelly, free safety Brandon Beaver and rover Trevor Walker will likely start at Hawaii, but seven true freshmen are also pushing for playing time — notably, free safety Budda Baker and cornerback Naijiel Hale. In a conference with 10 returning quarterback — only UW and Arizona will have a new starting quarterback among Pac-12 teams — the UW secondary will have to grow up in a hurry.
Road to redemption
Over the past three seasons, UW has a 4-9 record in Pac-12 road games. If the Huskies hope to be in the mix among the Pac-12’s elite, that’s a trend that has to be reversed.