2014 Washington Huskies Odds to Win the Pac-12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/4/2014
Chris Petersen has been a top coaching candidate for many big-name openings the past few years, but until Washington came around no one was able to get him away from Boise State. Petersen compiled a 92-12 record in eight years as head coach at Boise State. This is a man who is an extremely good football coach. While he was tested at Boise State, the Pac-12 is a huge step up from the Mountain West, and he knows that.
Steve Sarkisian put this Huskies program on the right track the last few years, and now it's Petersen's job to try to get them to take the next step. After three consecutive 7-6 seasons, Washington jumped up to 9-4 last year. They still haven't been particularly close to a Pac-12 Championship, and that is the goal for Petersen and his staff.
Seven starters return on each side of the ball for Washington. There are some key guys gone from last year, but the Huskies should be strong in the trenches in 2014. The Pac-12 as a whole is much improved. Can Washington make noise in this difficult conference?
2014 Washington Offense
The Washington offense must replace their top quarterback, top running back, top tight end, and top wide receiver from a year ago. Keith Price set multiple school records, including best completion percentage, during his time at quarterback for the Huskies. Bishop Sankey ran for 1,870 yards in a mammoth 2013 season. Sankey was one of the top running backs in the nation a year ago. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses at the tight end spot, but he is now in the NFL. Kevin Smith led the team in receiving yards last year, but he's gone. This offense returns seven starters, but their top skill position players are new to the job.
Cyler Miles will start at quarterback for Washington. Miles has an enormous amount of potential, but there are plenty of question marks about him as well. Everyone knows he can run, but can he throw it effectively? He's also had some off-the-field trouble, so Washington fans are a bit concerned here. Miles will miss the team's opener due to a suspension, but he'll be back for their Week 2 contest.
Washington will likely go with a tailback-by-committee approach this year. Look for Cooper, Washington, and Callier to all get some carries. None of these guys are game-changers, which means they are a big step down from Sankey. Jaydon Mickens and Kasen Williams are both high-quality receivers for the Huskies, but depth could be a problem at this spot.
The clear strength of this offense is the offensive line. This group returns 124 career starts, which is fifth best in the nation. There are five fifth-year seniors that will see playing time here. The Huskies have a great starting five on the line, and the second group is almost as good. They are the best offensive line in the Pac-12.
2014 Washington Defense
Washington returns their entire defensive line from last year. A few years ago, the glaring weakness at Washington was their defensive front. Opposing teams could just line up and run it right down their throat. It has gotten to the point now that the strength of this defense is their interior push and stopping the run. At the same time, Washington's defensive line excels at rushing the passer. Hau'oli Kikaha had 13 sacks from his end spot last year, and he's back for his senior season. Cory Littleton is a high-quality player from the other end as well. This defensive front is among the best in the nation.
The Huskies linebackers are very good too. Shaq Thompson and John Timu had 78 and 77 tackles, respectively, last year, and they'll lead the way for this group in 2014. Travis Feeney is a talented starter at outside linebacker as well. This is another area where the Huskies have a great second unit, too. The entire Washington front seven on defense is excellent.
The problem area for Washington's defense is their secondary, and it could be a big problem. Three of last year's starters are gone. Sean Parker and Will Shamburger were team leaders. Tre Watson and Gregory Ducre are gone as well. Marcus Peters is the main man left in the secondary, and redshirt freshman Jermaine Kelly will be thrown into the fire at the other corner spot. The safety spots are a major concern. This unit is the definite weak link of the defense.
2014 Washington Huskies Odds to Win Pac-12
The Washington Huskies are listed at 14/1 to win the Pac-12, according to odds from Bovada. The Huskies are 6/1 to win the Pac-12 North Division. Washington is 100/1 to win the FBS Championship this season. The oddsmakers have put Washington's season win total at 9 games.
2014 Washington Huskies Picks & Predictions
Washington's schedule is very friendly considering how difficult the Pac-12 is. The Huskies get UCLA at home, and they avoid playing USC. Their nonconference schedule is full of total cupcakes. There's a good chance that Washington will start at least 5-0 this year. By that time, the youngsters should have matured a bit. I think with Petersen at the helm this team will be dangerous by later in the year. They won't win the Pac-12, but I like them to go "over" nine wins.
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