ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31: Myles Gaskin #9 of the Washington Huskies runs the ball against Jonathan Allen #93 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

BEVO BEAT

The American-Statesman’s Top 25 countdown: No. 8 Washington

Are the Huskies the real thing or were they a 2016 one-shot wonder?

Posted July 22nd, 2017

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Sure, it’s July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last year’s CFP semifinalists were ranked Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 17 on our 2016 list.

Today’s team: No. 8 Washington (Related coverage: Two top quarterbacks puts Huskies’ recruiting class in rare territory)

Best-case scenario: The Huskies make a return trip to the College Football Playoff behind quarterback Jake Browning, the 2016 Pac-12 offensive player of the year, and arguably the best running back duo in college football — Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman.

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Worst-case scenario: Browning, who had shoulder surgery during the offseason, struggles to return to form after throwing for 3,430 yards a year ago, and Washington becomes a Pac-12 also-ran again.

The key game: Nov. 10, at Stanford. Most of Washington’s critical Pac-12 contests are at home, but this game in Palo Alto could be a troublesome matchup.

 

INSIDE THE HUSKIES

Coach: Chris Petersen (fourth year, 27-14; 119-26 overall at Boise State and Washington)

2016: 12-2, 8-1 in the Pac-12 (lost to Alabama 24-7 in CFP semifinals)

Returning starters: 8 offense, 7 defense

Goodbye: WR John Ross (Bengals, 1st round); S Bubba Baker (Cardinals, 2nd round); CB Sidney Jones (Eagles, 2nd round); CB Kevin King (Packers, 2nd round)

Spring cleaning: Washington welcomes two new position coaches after the departures of receivers coach Bush Hamden and offensive line coach Chris Strausser, who joined NFL staffs. … Petersen’s prize recruits were four-star athlete Salvon Ahmed (6-0, 185 pounds) and four-star TE Hunter Bryant (6-2, 238). Both grew up in the Seattle area.

SANTA CLARA, CA – DECEMBER 02: Jake Browning #3 of the Washington Huskies is congratulated by teammates after they beat the Colorado Buffaloes in the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium on December 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)

RETURNING LEADERS

Passing: Jake Browning, 243-391-3,430, 43/9

Rushing: Myles Gaskin, 237-1,373-10 (1st); Lavon Coleman, 114-852-7 (2nd)

Receiving: Dante Pettis, 53-822-15 (2nd)

Tackles: LB Keishawn Bierria, 70 (2nd); LB Azeem Victor, 67 (T-3rd); DB Jojo McIntosh, 67 (T-3rd)

Sacks: DL Vita Vea, 5 (T-2nd)

 

RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS (11)

Offense: QB Jake Browning (offensive player of the year), RB Myles Gaskin (1st team), OL Trey Adams (1st), OL Coleman Shelton (2nd), RS Dante Pettis (2nd), TE Drew Sample (hon. men.)

Defense: DB Taylor Rapp (freshman defensive player of the year), LB Azeem Victor (1st), DL Vita Vea (2nd), LB Keishawn Bierria (2nd), DL Greg Gaines (hon. men.)

SEATTLE, WA – OCTOBER 22: Members of the Washington Huskies celebrate after defeating the Oregon State Beavers 41-17 on October 22, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON: FYI

Bring on the Trojans: The Huskies’ regular-season schedule has one glaring omission, but USC likely will be waiting in the Pac-12 championship game come December. Washington gets a slew of conference games in Seattle, including one against rival Oregon. The Huskies defeated the Ducks in Eugene last year, their first victory over Oregon in 13 years.

Powered by the run: Washington will rely heavily on its running game, and with good reason. Gaskin, a Doak Walker Award candidate, ranked third in the conference in rushing yards and seventh in rushing touchdowns. Coleman, whose 852 yards ranked him seventh in the Pac-12 in 2016, complements Gaskin and gives the Huskies a formidable 1-2 backfield punch. With Ross leaving early for the NFL, the duo may need to carry the load early in the season as the new receivers settle into the offense.

A new-look secondary: The secondary was wiped clean with the exception of Rapp, who led the team with four interceptions as a freshman. He’s a potential All-American, but the Huskies will miss Baker, Jones and King. The foursome formed arguably one of the top secondaries in college football. DT Vita Vea (6-5, 334) was a projected second-round pick but decided to stay in school. He and DT Greg Gaines (6-2, 321) provide a solid wall to stop the run. Washington also returns three starting linebackers.

Washington's schedule

DATEOPPONENTLAST YR'S RESULT (IF PLAYED)
Sept. 1at RutgersW, 48-13
Sept. 9Montana
Sept. 16Fresno State
Sept. 23at Colorado*W, 41-10
Sept. 30at Oregon State*W, 41-17
Oct. 7Cal*W, 66-27
Oct. 14at Arizona State*W, 44-18
Oct. 28UCLA*
Nov. 4Oregon*W, 70-21
Nov. 10at Stanford*W, 70-21
Nov. 18Utah*W, 31-24
Nov. 25Washington State*W, 45-17
* Pac-12 game

The last 5 years

YEARW-L (CONF.)RANKINGBOWL GAME
TOTAL43-24 (26-19)1-4 in bowls
20127-6 (5-4)NR/NRL Las Vegas
20139-4 (5-4)NR/25thW Fight Hunger
20148-6 (4-5)25th/NRL Cactus
20157-6 (4-5)NR/NRL Heart of Texas
201612-2 (8-1)14th/4thL CFP semifinal

Note: Ranks are that year’s preseason/final ranking

 

2016 NATIONAL STAT RANKS

Scoring: 8th (41.8 ppg)

Points allowed: 8th (17.7 ppg)

Passing: 41st (258.8 ypg)

Rushing: 44th (198.1 ypg)

Total off.: 32nd (456.9 ypg)

Total def.: 12th (316.9 ypg)

 

OUR TOP 25 SO FAR

No. 25: Boise State

No. 24: Oregon

No. 23: Tennessee

No. 22: Texas

No. 21: Kansas State

No. 20: Miami

No. 19: West Virginia

No. 18: South Florida

No. 17: Florida

No. 16: Stanford

No. 15: Louisville

No. 14: Georgia

No. 13: Wisconsin

No. 12: LSU

No. 11: Auburn

No. 10: Michigan

No. 9: Oklahoma State

No. 8: Washington

No. 7: Coming Sunday. Want a hint? This school can claim Darrell Royal as a former quarterback and Mack Brown as a former offensive coordinator.

 

BY CONFERENCE

5 schools:

SEC (11-Auburn, 12-LSU, 14-Georgia, 17-Florida, 23-Tennessee)

4 schools:

Big 12 (9-Oklahoma State, 19-West Virginia, 21-Kansas State, 22-Texas)

3 schools:

Pac-12 (8-Washington, 16-Stanford, 24-Oregon)

2 schools:

ACC (15-Louisville, 20-Miami)

Big Ten (10-Michigan, 13-Wisconsin)

Pac-12 (16-Stanford, 24-Oregon)

1 school:

AAC (18-South Florida)

Mountain West (25-Boise State)

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