Pac-12 preview: Washington Huskies eager to take the next step
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
CULVER CITY, Calif. — Since going 5-7 in his first season at the helm, former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian has led the Washington Huskies to their first three winning seasons since 2002.
The consistency, however, has been marked with consistency — and a lot of it. They’ve gone 7-6 each year.
A golden chance to change that was squandered last season with a 31-28 overtime loss to Washington State in the Apple Cup.
“In our heart of hearts we were better than 7-6, but we didn’t get it done. In turn, it’s left a bad taste in our mouths and it’s been an offseason where these guys, our coaching staff and our entire team couldn’t wait to get back on the field,” Sarkisian said. “I feel confident we can get over that hump. But, until we do it, we’re a 7-6 football team and that’s what we have to change.”
Despite returning 10 starters on offense and eight on defense, Washington was picked to finish fourth in the North Division by the Pac-12 media.
“The reality is we are a better football team. We were a better football team last year and unfortunately the record isn’t indicative of how good that football team was,” Sarkisian said. “Ultimately we’re judged on our final outcome and record. You can look at stats and the different things. The one that matters is the wins and the losses.”
OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Keith Price leads an offense that returns 10 starters, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (69 catches for 852 yards), running back Bishop Sankey (1,688 all-purpose yards) and wide receiver Kasen Williams (77 receptions for 878 yards). The Huskies installed a no-huddle scheme during spring ball.
DEFENSE: Eight starters are back, including top tacklers John Timu and Sean Parker. Timu, a junior linebacker, and Parker, a senior defensive back, had 91 and 77 stops, respectively. Defensive ends Andrew Hudson and Josh Shirley each had 6 1/2 sacks in 2012. Nose tackle Danny Shelton and linebacker Shaq Thompson are others to watch.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior Travis Coons made all 39 of his PAT attempts last season, but was 9 of 14 when kicking field goals. The Huskies were last in the Pac-12 in punting with a net average of 34.8 yards.
EXTRA POINTS: Washington will open its renovated Husky Stadium Aug. 31 against Boise State. ... Seferian-Jenkins, who pled guilty to an offseason drunk driving charge, was cleared for camp by Sarkisian. The coach said any team-imposed penalty will be dealt with internally. ... The Huskies haven’t won eight games in a season since 2001.
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