Check out all of my spring profiles here.
9/1 – vs Auburn (in Atlanta, GA)
9/8 – vs North Dakota
9/15 – @ Utah
9/22 – vs Arizona State
9/29 – vs BYU
10/6 – @ UCLA
10/13 – @ Oregon
10/20 – vs Colorado
10/27 – @ California
11/3 – vs Stanford
11/17 – vs Oregon State
11/23 – @ Washington State
Washington will travel to Atlanta to take on Auburn in what may be the most interesting matchup of week one for the 2018 college football season. Conference play kicks off just two weeks later with a road game against always-solid Utah. The schedule shapes up rather nicely for UW after that as the Huskies avoid USC and Washington from the South and will get Stanford at home. A Friday night road game against Washington State to end the year has spoiler game written all over it.
In his three years as the starting quarterback for Washington, Jake Browning has thrown for 9,104 yards and 78 touchdowns, and if you take out his freshman year where he was certainly turnover prone, he has a touchdown to interception ratio at over 4-1. His production dipped a little last year as he went from 8.8 yards per attempt to 8.1, but his completion percentage went up over six percent up to 68.5, and he threw just five interceptions the entire year. If Browning can just put all the pieces together, he has all the makings of a Heisman contender.
After racking up over 4,400 yards from scrimmage and 49 touchdowns in his three years as the starting running back for the Huskies, I expected Myles Gaskin to turn to the pros, but he decided to return along with his quarterback for one last run at a College Football Playoff National Championship. He will be backed up by former four-star prospect Salvon Ahmed who averaged 6.4 yards per carry as a true freshman last year.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
With Dante Pettis moving on to the NFL, juniors Aaron Fuller and Andre Baccellia will step into bigger roles. The two have combined for just 65 catches over the past two years, but they will be called on to step up and play big roles in the offense over the course of the season. Speedy sophomore Ty Jones is likely to start in the slot. Chico McClatcher and Quinten Pounds, who both missed much of last season with leg injuries, both did not play in spring practice but are expected to be ready for the season and challenge for starting roles if healthy. Hunter Bryant is likely to make the start at tight end after coming up with 331 yards on just 22 catches as a true freshman last year.
Washington returns both tackles as seniors Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary have each been in their respective roles for four years now and are expected to contend for All-Pac 12 honors. The only other returning starter is junior Nick Harris, who will slide over from right guard to center. Senior Jesse Sosebee, who has made starts in the past, is expected to be the guy at the left guard spot, and the right guard spot is likely to be occupied by Luke Wattenberg, who made an impact as a freshman last year when Trey Adams was dealing with an injury.
Vita Vea is now going to be playing on the other side of the country in Tampa for the Buccaneers, but Washington still might have the best defensive line in the Pac-12 as all three expected starters are upperclassmen with tons of experience. 322 pounder Greg Gaines, who has racked up over 90 tackles in his career as a backup to Vea, will plug up the middle. Jaylen Johnson, Shane Bowman, and Jared Pulu, all of whom played reserve roles last year, rotating on the edges. Former four-star sophomore Levi Onwuzurike will back up Gaines at the nose spot.
Senior Tevis Bartlett (48 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four sacks in 2017) returns as the starting Sam Linebacker, as does junior Benning Potoa’e as the Jack and All-Pac 12 contender Ben Burr-Kirven in the middle. Sophomore Ryan Bowman, who led the team in sacks in 2017 will step into the weak-side spot. Sophomore Amandre Williams will also compete for playing time on the outside.
Washington struggled with injuries in the secondary last year, but both Byron Murphy and Joran Miller return to the group after missing meaningful portions of last season with injuries. Myles Bryant is back as the starting nickel back and former four-star junior Austin Joyner will compete for playing time as well. Both Taylor Rapp and JoJo McIntosh are back in the safety spots after each has an incredible 2017, combining for over 100 tackles.
Four-year recruiting rankings
2015: #26 Nationally, #6 in Pac-12
2016: #29 Nationally, #6 in Pac-12
2017: #22 Nationally, #5 in Pac-12
2018: #13 Nationally, #2 in Pac-12
With Jonathan Smith stepping into the head coaching role for Pac-12 foe Oregon State, Chris Petersen and company had to go find a new OC, and they got a good one. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan will take over play-calling duties, he will also be the QB coach for Jake Browning’s senior season.
The schedule starts out with a blockbuster matchup in Atlanta as the Huskies travel to Atlanta to face another preseason top ten team, the Auburn Tigers. After a game against FCS North Dakota, UW kicks off conference play with a road game against the likely #2 in the Pac-12 South, Utah. Washington avoids my #1 and #3 teams from the South in USC and Arizona. After the Utah game, the Huskies finish off the first half of the season with winnable games against Arizona State, BYU, and UCLA. A road game against Oregon kicks off the back half of the year, followed by what should be cakewalks against Colorado and California. Luckily for Washington, they get Stanford at home, and get a home game against Oregon State before having to travel to play a weekday game to end the season @ Washington State.
Once again, I need to state that these are not my final predictions, just a spring look ahead.
WIN – vs Auburn (in Atlanta, GA)
WIN – vs North Dakota
WIN – @ Utah
WIN – vs Arizona State
WIN – vs BYU
WIN – @ UCLA
LOSS – @ Oregon
WIN – vs Colorado
WIN – @ California
WIN – vs Stanford
WIN – vs Oregon State
WIN – @ Washington State
Projected Record: 11-1 (8-1 Pac-12)