The truth is, this is one of the most talented rosters Washington has ever assembled. The Huskies have a senior quarterback who won conference player of the year two seasons ago, a senior running back who scored 21 touchdowns last year and one of the best defenses in college football.
Wednesday, Huskies football coach Chris Petersen is going to stand in front of cameras and douse every flame of hype he can. He will spend most of the Pac-12 Media Day tempering expectations, as has been his M.O. since he showed up in Seattle.
This might not be fun for the guys holding microphones and tape recorders, but we all know he’s just doing his job as a coach. As for your job as a football fan? Ignore every word he says.
The truth is, this is one of the most talented rosters Washington has ever assembled. The Huskies have a senior quarterback who won conference player of the year two seasons ago, a senior running back who scored 21 touchdowns last year, a likely first-round-pick of a left tackle, and one of the best defenses in college football.
Obviously, sports history is littered with gifted teams who stumbled early, then tumbled out of control. Petersen’s players should absolutely heed his words. But among UW fans, I don’t know the last time the anticipation for a season was this robust. No need to downplay it — just embrace it.
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Boosting this anticipation, of course, is that the Huskies open their season against Auburn in Atlanta. USA Today ranked the Tigers as the 11th best team in the country after spring practice, which was seven spots below Washington.
Since hype has already been established as a theme here, we can go ahead and say that this might be the biggest opener in Huskies’ football history. And though these Huskies aren’t used to starting their season on this kind of a stage — they certainly aren’t strangers to the spotlight.
Quarterback Jake Browning helped lead Washington to the Pac-12 title and the College Football Playoff semifinals his sophomore season, and just like the start of last year, is among the quarterbacks on the Davey O’Brien Award watch list. Joining him in the backfield is Myles Gaskin, who gained 6.2 yards per carry en route to amassing 1,380 yards last season.
At left tackle is Trey Adams, who’s a top-10 pick in some 2019 mock drafts. At right tackle is Kaleb McGary, who was a first-team all-conference selection in 2017.
There is projected pro Greg Gaines on the D-Line, projected pro Taylor Rapp in the secondary, and well … you get it. The names are there. There is proven production all around. Perhaps that’s why South Coast Casino projected UW to win 10.5 games this season — two more than any other team in the Pac-12.
This is the power Petersen has been meticulously building since he arrived. It is the byproduct of precision, both in coach and recruiting, that is turning UW into one of the surer bets in college sports.
Is there any indication this is going to slow down sometime soon? At Boise State, Petersen’s recruiting classes often didn’t crack the top 75, yet the Broncos repeatedly finished among the nation’s top 10. Now, Petersen is getting top-25 classes and turning them into national-title contenders. In fact, his last class was the best of his career, and he has former Georgia star Jacob Eason, who transferred to UW after last season, primed to take over at QB when Browning graduates.
It appears as though it’s going to be a good time to be a Husky fan for a while. But it seems an especially good time to be a Husky fan now.
Petersen is going to do whatever he must to keep his players and staff focused on the task at hand, meaning he likely won’t want to talk about anything beyond the next workout. But don’t let anything he says Wednesday fool you.
Petersen won’t feed into the hype, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give in to it.