The Boise State Broncos will be heading over to Puget Sound to take on the Washington Huskies, when the season opens for both teams. The game will kick off on Saturday, August 31, at 7 PM PT (8 PM MT), on Fox Sports 1. Here's a look at the 2013 Huskies program.
Coach: Steve Sarkisian (26-25, four years)
2012 record: (7-6, 5-4 in PAC-12)
2012 season in review: Washington opened last season with a win over San Diego State (21-12), then suffered a humiliating 3-41 loss on a road trip to LSU. That led to more inconsistency throughout the season: after crushing Portland State and a win over #8 Stanford, the Huskies dropped three straight to #3 Oregon, #11 USC and Arizona. Washington then defeated four in a row, starting with #7 Oregon State before closing out their regular season with a 31-28 OT loss to rival Washington State in the Apple Cup. Washington actually reached a top-23 ranking in 2012 before their loss at Oregon that culminated with a drop in the polls.
Returning Offensive Starters: 10
Returning Defensive Starters: 8
Returning Special Teams: 2
Key Returning Starters: The offense returns QB Kieth Price, WR Kasen Williams, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, LG Dexter Charles, LT Micah Hatchie, RB Jesse Callier, and RB Bishop Sankey. On defense the Huskies have returning standout LB Shaq Thompson and DE Josh Shirley, along with S Sean Parker and CB Marcus Peters in the secondary. K Travis Coons returns on special teams.
2013 Strengths: Just playing in newly remodeled Husky Stadium is one strength. Having 20 experienced starters for a home opener against a top-25 ranked Boise State team is another. The Washington coaches are coming off a narrow 28-26 loss to the Broncos at the end of last season in the 2012 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, and that should give the Husky coaches an idea of what they can expect from the Broncos. The Huskies will also be bringing in a high-tempo, no-huddle offense to the field this year. The idea is it should help junior QB Kieth Price stabilize when he is under pressure. Price threw for 2,728 yards last season, including 19 TDs. But he also tossed 13 INTs and was sacked a whopping 37 times. That was one reason why Sarkinsian brought in quarterback coach Marques Tuiasosopo to help out his QB.
Sarkinsian also hired new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox to beef up a struggling defense. Wilcox, you might remember, was the former Boise State DC from 2006-2009. In Wilcox’s four years at Boise, his teams lost only four games and he ended his career there with a 49-4 record and his defenses at BSU were among the highest-rated in the nation. The Huskies are hoping he can do a repeat performance in Seattle.
2013 Weaknesses: The biggest obstacle that could prevent Washington from having a standout season will be at quarterback. If Keith Price continues to struggle it could be a long season for the Huskies. The Huskies have taken a page out of the Oregon and Stanford playbook with a new no huddle offensive strategy. That may or may not work for them. If it allows Price to do his thing, then Washington could be on their road to something big. But if it should backfire it could create even more uncertainty and turmoil in the offensive ranks. Sarkisian is optimistic about the direction his team is going and says this team is the "best football team that we’ve had since I’ve been here." That’s a bold statement for a defense that finished last in the PAC-12 in tackles for loss and struggled with the pass rush. Special teams could use some improvement as well. The Washington punting game was the worst in the PAC with K Travis Coons averaging under 40 yards per kick and the team netting just 34.8 yards per punt.