Sure, it’s just July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our eighth annual countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last season’s four College Football Playoff semifinalists were rated Nos. 3, 6, 13 and 24 on our 2015 list.
Today’s team: No. 17 Washington (Related coverage: Petersen trying his best to ignore the hype on his Washington Huskies)
The Huskies will contend if … their young offense matured a lot in the offseason. Washington flatlined last year in the red zone, ranking 79th in red zone touchdowns. Maybe that wasn’t that surprising since they were starting a true freshman at quarterback. The upside, though, is that nine starters are back on offense, including running back Myles Gaskin, who rushed for at least 100 yards in eight of the last 12 games.
INSIDE THE HUSKIES
Coach: Chris Petersen (third year, 15-12; 107-24 overall at Boise State and Washington)
2015: 7-6, 4-5 in the Pac-12; beat Southern Miss in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, 44-31
Returning starters: 9 offense, 7 defense
The key game: Oct. 8, at Oregon
Hello: DE Levi Onwuzurike, DB Byron Murphy, OLB Cameron Eifler, RB Isaiah Gilchrist, QB Daniel Bridge-Gadd
Goodbye: LB Travis Feeney (Steelers); Dwayne Washington (Lions)
Spring cleaning: The Huskies’ recruiting class ranked 29th nationally by 247Sports’ composite ratings, highlighted by seven players with four-star rankings or better. It also included two signees from Texas — Onwuzurike (Allen) and WR Aaron Fuller (Lucas Lovejoy). … U-Dub, as it’s called by Seattleites, welcomes a familiar face to its coaching staff. New defensive line coach Ikaika Mallow was a standout for the Huskies from 1993-96.
Passing: Jake Browning, 233-368-2,955 yards, 16/10 (1st)
Rushing: Myles Gaskin, 227-1,302-14 (1st)
Receiving: Dante Pettis, 30-414-1 (3rd); Brayden Lenius, 26-307-3 (4th)
Tackles: LB Azeem Victor, 95 (1st)
Sacks: DL Elijah Qualls, 4.5 (3rd)
RETURNING ALL CONFERENCE (6)
Offense: RB Myles Gaskin (honorable mention)
Defense: DB Budda Baker (1st), DB Sidney Jones (1st), DL Greg Gaines (honorable mention), DB Kevin King (honorable mention), LB Azeem Victor (honorable mention)
- The Oct. 8 game at Oregon will show just how far Petersen has come in his first two years. Last season, the Ducks won their 12th straight game at Husky Stadium. If UW wants to make a play in the Pac-12 North Division, it will have to end that streak.
- Washington has won only nine games in a season twice since 2000 (2000, 2013). Since Petersen’s arrival after the 2012 season, the Huskies have lost six games each year. This could be the year, though — a relatively weak non-conference schedule could have Washington headed into conference play with a 3-0 record.
- Defensively, Washington will have to work to reload at linebacker. The Huskies were the top-ranked defense in the Pac-12, but they are most talented in the secondary. Junior safety Budda Baker and junior cornerback Sidney Jones, both first-team all-conference picks and two-year starters, are the center of arguably the best secondary in the conference. Senior cornerback Kevin King will likely be picked on; opponents steered clear of Baker’s side of the field much of last year.
Washington's 2016 schedule
|Date||Opponent||Last yr's result (if played)|
|Sept. 17||Portland State|
|Sept. 24||at Arizona*||W, 49-3|
|Sept. 30||Stanford*||L, 31-14|
|Oct. 8||at Oregon*||L, 26-20|
|Oct. 22||Oregon State*||W, 52-7|
|Oct. 29||at Utah*||L, 34-23|
|Nov. 5||at Cal*||L, 30-24|
|Nov. 12||USC*||W, 17-12|
|Nov. 19||Arizona State*||L, 27-17|
|Nov. 25||at Washington State*||W, 45-10|
|* Pac-12 game|
Washington: The last 5 years
|2015||7-6 / 4-5||— / —||Heart of Texas Bowl, L|
|2014||8-6 / 4-5||25th / —||Cactus Bowl, L|
|2013||9-4 / 5-4||— / 25th||Fight Hunger Bowl, W|
|2012||7-6 / 5-4||— / —||Las Vegas Bowl, L|
|2011||7-6 / 5-4||— / —||Alamo Bowl, L|
|Total||38-28, 23-22||5 bowl games (1-4)|
2015 NATIONAL RANKS
Scoring: 55th (30.6 ppg)
Scoring defense: 13th (18 .8 ppg)
Passing yards: 50th (239.2 ypg)
Rushing yards: 76th (163.8 ypg)
TOP 25 SO FAR …
No. 17: Coming Friday. Want a hint? Here’s two — (1) It’s the first SEC school on our Top 25, and (2) Pop Warner coached this school for two seasons in the late 1890s.
3 schools: Pac-12 (17-Washington, 21-Oregon, 25-Washington State)
2 schools: ACC (20-North Carolina, 23-Louisville); Big 12 (19-Baylor, 22-Oklahoma State)
1 school: Big Ten (18-Iowa); Mountain West (24-Boise State)