Nine regular starters are back from an offense that set a school record with 41.8 points per game last season.

Share story

On offense, Washington returns nine starters from their playoff loss to Alabama that ended the Huskies’ 2016 breakout season.

Star quarterback Jake Browning, sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, again leads an offense that set a UW record in averaging 41.8 points per game last season. Also back are running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, wide receivers Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher and an offensive line that is one of the most experienced in the nation.

One week before the Huskies open fall camp next Monday, here is a position-by-position preview of the offense:

QUARTERBACK

Reason for optimism: Jake Browning.

Cause for concern: Jake Browning’s right shoulder.

Key stat: 43 — touchdown passes thrown by Browning in 2016, tying the Pac-12 record and shattering the UW record. The reigning Pac-12 offensive player of the year enters his junior season with 59 career touchdown passes, needing just 16 more to match Keith Price’s school record. Browning had surgery on his throwing shoulder in January, but by mid-April said the shoulder “feels exactly how it’s supposed to.” If the Huskies are to make another run at the College Football Playoff, Browning has to stay healthy.

Wild card: With good depth behind Browning, the Huskies will have freshman Jake Haener redshirt this season. Still, it will be important for Haener to make a positive first impression while running the scout-team offense. Come January, the Huskies are scheduled to welcome two touted QB recruits — Jacob Sirmon and Colson Yankoff — and Haener ought to take advantage of the time before they arrive on campus.

Projected depth chart:

Jake Browning, 6-2, 205, jr.
K.J. Carta-Samuels, 6-2, 219, rs-jr.
Tony Rodriguez, 6-3, 188, sr.
Daniel Bridge-Gadd, 6-2, 210, rs-fr.
Jake Haener, fr., 6-0, 196
Blake Gregory, 6-2, 180, rs-fr.*

RUNNING BACK

Reason for optimism: Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman are back after combining to rush for 2,225 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

Cause for concern: The quality and depth — and quality of depth — makes running back perhaps the Huskies’ greatest position of strength. It is instructive, however, to note how ineffective the run game was during UW’s two losses in 2016. Against USC, the Huskies managed 17 net yards on 27 attempts (including three sacks); against Alabama, they had 44 yards on 29 carries (including sacks).

Key stat: 7.47 — yards per carry for Coleman, which ranked second in the Pac-12.

Wild cards: Redshirt freshmen Sean McGrew, the former California state player of the year, and Kamari Pleasant both showed enough in the spring to think they could provide some help in limited roles this fall. True freshman Salvon Ahmed, the Juanita High graduate, is an intriguing addition. The Huskies have the luxury of redshirting Ahmed, if they choose, but much like it was with Gaskin two years ago, Ahmed could prove to be too good to keep off the field.

Projected depth chart:

Myles Gaskin, jr., 5-10, 191
Lavon Coleman, sr., 5-11, 223
Sean McGrew, rs-fr., 5-7, 177
Kamari Pleasant, rs-fr., 6-0, 191
Salvon Ahmed, 5-11, 189
Ralph Kinne, sr., 5-10, 220*
Paul Wells, so., 5-9, 170*

WIDE RECEIVERS

Reason for optimism: Two big ones: Dante Pettis and Chico McClatcher. Pettis had 15 touchdown receptions last season and McClatcher (31 receptions, 574 yards, 5 TDs) led the Pac-12 with 18.5 yards per catch. Then there’s Aaron Fuller, who as a true freshmen emerged late last season as a viable threat, plus Andre Baccellia and Quinten Pounds. And Ty Jones, Terrell Bynum and Alex Cook are three of the more intriguing freshmen entering fall camp.

Cause for concern: John Ross III made life easier for everyone. Defenses had to account for him on every snap, had to have a safety helping his side of the field, which opened things up for Pettis, opened things up for the running game, and so on. With Ross now in a Cincinnati Bengals’ uniform, Pettis figures to get extra looks from Browning — and the extra attention from defenses.

Key stat: 1 — number of dropped passes by Pettis in 2016, on 72 targets, according to Pro Football Focus.

Wild card: Brayden Lenius. The 6-foot-5 junior was a part-time starter in 2015, then redshirted in 2016 after serving a three-game suspension to start the season. By the end of spring ball this year, he was contributing with the first-team offense again.

Projected depth chart:

Outside
Dante Pettis, sr., 6-1, 192
Brayden Lenius, jr., 6-5, 234
Terrell Bynum, fr., 6-0, 184
K.J. Young, sr., 6-0, 188
John Gardner, jr., 6-3, 187*
Josh Rasmussen, so., 5-11, 182*

Outside
Andre Baccellia, so., 5-10, 173
Quinten Pounds, so., 5-11, 183
Ty Jones, fr., 6-4, 206
Alex Cook, fr., 6-1, 186
Forrest Dunivin, sr., 6-4, 200*
Nik Little, sr., 6-5, 207

Slot
Chico McClatcher, jr., 5-7, 179
Aaron Fuller, so., 5-10, 186
Max Richmond, jr., 5-9, 181*
Jordan Chin, rs-fr., 6-0, 165

OFFENSIVE LINE

Reason for optimism: Four of five starters from the Peach Bowl return, led by senior center Coleman Shelton and tackles Trey Adams and Kaleb McGary. Nick Harris, as a true freshman, started vs. Alabama, and veteran Andrew Kirkland has experience throughout the line.

Cause for concern: Depth is a question mark, particularly at the tackle spots, so keeping Adams and McGary healthy and fresh into November has to be a priority.

Key stat: 97 — combined starts for UW’s linemen, the most in the Pac-12 and ninth-most in the FBS, according to research done by college football analyst Phil Steele.

Wild card: Redshirt freshman Luke Wattenberg was the Huskies’ highest-ranked offensive line recruit a year ago. But an illness last fall sapped his strength and caused him to lose weight. He gained back the weight, and then some, by this spring. Wattenberg profiles as a tackle long-term, but for now he should factor into the competition for the starting guard jobs that are up for grabs.

Projected depth chart:

Left tackle
Trey Adams, jr., 6-8, 320
Jared Hilbers, so., 6-7, 302

Left guard
Andrew Kirkland, sr., 6-4, 316
Jesse Sosebee, jr., 6-5, 310
Jaxson Kirkland, fr., 6-6, 325
Duke Clinch, rs-fr., 6-2, 303*

Center
Coleman Shelton, sr., 6-4, 297
Matt James, jr., 6-5, 285

Right guard
Nick Harris, so., 6-1, 287
Henry Roberts, so., 6-6, 295
Luke Wattenberg, rs-fr., 6-4, 291
John Turner, jr., 6-4, 290
Cole Norgaard, fr., 6-4, 277
A.J. Kneip, so., 6-2, 285*

Right tackle
Kaleb McGary, jr., 6-7, 310
Devin Burleson, so., 6-8, 321
Henry Bainivalu, fr., 6-5, 285

TIGHT ENDS

Reason for optimism: Drew Sample and Will Dissly return as the tough, reliable, block-first tight ends that Chris Petersen loves to deploy in numerous ways in his myriad offensive sets. What should have Husky fans especially excited is the potential of freshman Hunter Bryant, the Eastside Catholic product whose pass-catching ability has already drawn comparisons to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Bryant figures to help the offense immediately.

Cause for concern: Not much. The Huskies have talent, experience and depth at tight end, and Bryant should be able to replace the production lost by the graduation of Darrell Daniels (17 catches, 307 yards, 3 TDs).

Key stat: 14 — number of combined receptions last season for Sample (9), Dissly (4) and David Ajamu (1), the Huskies’ top three returning tight ends.

Wild card: Now a senior, Ajamu has battled injuries throughout his career, but he looked strong in the spring and could be a viable contributor this fall.

Projected depth chart:

Drew Sample, jr., 6-5, 259
Will Dissly, sr., 6-4, 269
David Ajamu, sr., 6-5, 251
Hunter Bryant, fr., 6-2, 241
Michael Neal, so., 6-4, 246
Jacob Kizer, rs-fr., 6-4, 241
Cade Otton, fr., 6-5, 222
Derek Hunter, sr., 6-2, 235*
Mike Petroff, rs-fr., 6-0, 228*

Note: Heights and weights have not been updated since the spring.
*walk-on